How to Upgrade Your French
So you’re in France talking to real french people. You think you’re prepared with all your years of classes at school, but soon you realize you sound like a textbook robot. Here are some ways to upgrade your french and sound a little more fluent. In the words of the great Beyonce:
1. Instead of Comment ça va?, Try ça va?
I’ve already talked about why ça va is a great expression. It’s all encompassing, you can take it in several different ways. It literally translates as “It’s going?”. French people tend to lean towards this relaxed, familiar expression than its more formal counterpart.
*Bonus points: Try ça y est?
2. Instead of Qu’est-ce que c’est?, Try C’est quoi ça?
In general, it is more common in spoken french to form a question like this. “Qu’est-ce que”, “Est-ce que” “Qui est-ce qui” and all of its other cousins are said more for formality or politeness. You wouldn’t use them around your friends. So next time form your question like this: Subject + Verb + Question Word.
Qu’est-ce que tu aimes faire? —–>Tu aimes faire quoi?
Où est-ce qu’elle travaille? ——> Elle travaille où?
3.Instead of ici,Try là
Technically, là means there. But in spoken french, it often substitutes ici to mean here. It’s a nuance in proximity, which makes a huge difference in english, but doesn’t at all in french.
Personne 1:“[Au Téléphone] Bonjour. Je pourrais parler à Pierre?”
Personne 2: “Désolé, mais il n’est pas là”
4. Instead of mes amis, Try mes copains/mes potes
I rarely hear french people refer to a friend as un ami. Copain or copine is the most supported by all ages and pote is usually reserved for young people. Be careful with copain/copine for it can have a more boyfriend/girlfriend connotation.
Funny Sidestory: I once told this random guy hitting on me that I was waiting for my copine. He immediately asked if I was a lesbian. Whoops.
5.Instead of Allons-y,Try On y va
Despite what your textbook taught you, Allons-y is a lame thing to say. For starters, no one uses the subject “nous” and allons-y is the imperative form of “nous”. If someone says it, they’re probably saying it ironically. Instead of “nous”, people say “on” so naturally On y va is a much cooler way to say “lets go!”.
“On est prêt de partir? On y va alors!”