Learning spoken French fluently – words and little phrases

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How to Speak French More Fluently ?

How to sound a bit more French ?

First, we are going to talk about three basics that everyone can implement, no matter your level. And then we are going to talk about conversations fillers to sound more French.

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The 3 basics of modern spoken French

 1 – Drop the « ne »

You might have hear that before, or not, even if you are very advanced you might sound a bit like a textbook. That are really change lots of things for you. For example, instead of saying s « je m’aime pas les carottes » (I don’t like carots), we say « j’aime pas les carottes ». Ou « je ne veux pas aller à dîner », we say « je veux pas aller dîner ». As you can see, we drop the « ne » and that makes a big difference.

2 – Use « on » instead of « nous »

Instead of saying « nous voulons des carottes » (We want carots), we say « On veut des carottes ». That is how we conjugated it as well. Instead of using « nous », which is the first person of plural, we use « on » which the third person of singular, and you conjugated this way.

If you are a bit more advanced and you want to know about spoken French. We happen to make the adjective and the past participle agree with the subject. So if it three women, you will have to agree with three women even if « on » is supposed to be neutral. But that is a detail and it is for if you are more advanced.

But, what you have to remember as a second basic of spoken French is to drop « nous » and use « on » instead. Maybe this is what you have heard at school, but that is how we actually speak French : use « on » instead of « nous ».  

3 – Do not use inversions in questions

We do not use inversions in questions very often. We use it when we want to be more formal or more direct in a very special way. Most of the time, 99% we do not use it. We just put the question mark at he end of the question. Instead of saying « veux-tu de la glace ? » (Do you want some ice cream ?) we say « tu veux de la glace ? ». As you can hear in my voice, the voice goes up at the end of the question, to make the difference between a question and not a question.

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Conversations fillers to sound more French than textbook

Now, we have to talk about talk fillers to sound more French than textbooks. When you are speaking your own language : English, Spanish, Portuguese,… you speak it in a way that is not the way I would speak it. If I learnt your language I would be very much like a textbook. When I speak French with my friends and my family, my French, my sentences, my questions are not that perfect. I hesitate, and that makes the language real. So, for example, we do not use « mmm » in French, we use the sound « euh ». It is a tricky sound but that is how we say it. If you are not sure about what you are saying, instead of saying « mmm »  which is in English, you can say « euh » which is French. You can use it very often as a filler.

Then, the second thing is that we change the words, little bit. Instead of saying « oui » whicj is the proper way to say « yes », we say « ouais ». It is kind of a slang French. We can also say « mouais » to say  « I am not really sure ». It is a matter of ton of voice and the intention you put into it.

Also, if you want to be a bit ironic you can say « ouais, ouais » which means « I do not really believe you ». It is just one word that we change a little bit to give more meaning to our sentence.

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« Pardon » in French is « I am sorry, excuse me ». That what your French teachers told you, but in French we sometimes tend to say « hein » which mean « what ? / excuse me ». Also you can say « comment ? ». « Pardon » and « comment » are polite and « hein » is a bit more familiar. You can try using them to sound more French, but do not use them in French exam because I do not want you to loose any points for being to modern.

There is one you should probably heard is « voilà ». It si a funny one because it has different meanings depending on the context. You can use it to say « ok, c’est ça » (that’s it), that’s the end you have everything here. You can also say voilà to mean « here, comes », you can see it coming : « voilà nos desserts » (here comes our desserts) if you are at the restaurant. Voilà ma mère (here comes my mother), voilà mon chien (here comes my dog), and then you can put whatever you want after that. You can also use it when you want to change the subject Et puis…voilà (tht’s the end of it). It is a bit difficult for me to explain this to you, you can see it in my face and you can hear it in my voice as well, I want to say « I don’t want to talk about that anymore », « that’s the end of the story ».

One last thing I want to tell you about is Eh bas dis donc. You can have this et puis voilà meaning. If you want  to sound more French and you are a bit more advanced, you can feel and understand the nuance of French, you can say « Ouah ! Eh ben dis donc ». You are very impressed and that what you really want to say. Maybe you already heard « Dis donc » before, it means like you see, you mean that’s is huge, I am surprised, I am impressed. And « Eh bah » comes from « Eh bien »….

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Thomas 😀

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