French has been ranked as one of the most useful languages for business globally. It’s the official language of 27 countries and has more than 68 million native speakers.
If you will be taking an international assignment to a French-speaking country, or even if you collaborate virtually with French-speaking colleagues, studying French with a native speaker will help you communicate more effectively and be more productive.
But while it takes time to achieve a high level of fluency in French, you can start feeling more at ease in this language and building camaraderie with French-speaking colleagues right away by mastering the essential French phrases we’ll share with you today.
Before we get started, it’s worth noting that French can be difficult to pronounce for native English speakers. So be sure to pay close attention to the pronunciation notes we offer here.
Common Greetings in French
Salut, ca va. – Hey, how’s it going? Hello, how goes it?
IPA: /sa va/
“Ca va” is what you’ll hear from morning until night. The response to this is also “Ca va.” That’s right: You respond with the same words as the question. Think of the exchange like this:
Ca va? – It’s going?
Ca va. – It’s going.
“Salut!” can also be used to mean “Bye!”
Another response to “Ca va?” is “Ouais ça comme un lundi.” But this response can only be used on a Monday. Basically, you’re saying, “Yeah, as good as a Monday can be.”
IPA: /wɛ/ /sa /kɔm/ /œ̃/ /ˈlʊntɪ/
Comment était ton week-end? – How was your weekend?
/kɔ.mɑ̃/ /e.tɛ/ /tɔ̃/ (weekend is 99% the same)
Yes! You read correctly. The French often use the phrase “week-end.” So you already understand part of this sentence.
Talking About Work in French
Je pars en réunion. – I’m going to a meeting.
/ʒə/ /paʁ/ /ɑ̃/ /ʁe.y.njɔ̃/
J’ai une conférence télephonique. – I have a conference call.
/ʒe/ /yn/ /kɔ̃.fe.ʁɑ̃s/ /te.le.fɔ.nik/
Je te rappelle après ma réunion. – I’ll call you after my meeting.
/ʒə/ /tə/ /ʁa.pel/ /aˈprɛs/ /ma/ /ʁe.y.njɔ̃/
Je dois partir tôt ce soir. – I have to leave early today.
/ʒə/ /dwa/ /paʁ.tiʁ/ /to/ /sə/ /swaʁ/
Où est-ce qu’on va manger? – Where shall we eat?
/u/ /ɛs.kə/ /k‿ɔ̃/ /va/ /mɑ̃.ʒe/
Vous venez manger avec nous? – Will you come eat with us? (This is to address a group of people or a boss or coworker you don’t know well.)
/vu/ /və.ne/ /mɑ̃.ʒe/ /a.vɛk/ /nu/
On part manger là. – We’re going out to eat over there.
Ɔ̃ /paʁ/ /mɑ̃.ʒe/ la
Petite pause café ca te dit? – How about a coffee break?
/pə.tit/ /poz/ /ka.fe/ /sa /tə/ /di/
Attends 2 minutes, je dois me concentrer là. – Two minutes please. I need to concentrate on this.
/a.tɑ̃/ /dø/ /mi.nyt/, /ʒə/ /dwa/ /mə/ /kɔ̃.sɑ̃.tʁe/ la
We hope this crash course in French will be useful to you at work. If you would like to keep building your Fluency in French, please contact us at [email protected] or (800) 401-3159.