Informal French Language

Learn to understand colloquial and familiar French

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Informal ways of speaking and writing in French, with free audio recordings by a native speaker.


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For more French learning through authentic videos, I recommend Yabla French and FluentU. For audiobooks and lessons of modern French, try French Today. I've recommended some French books at Amazon, and Interlinear books are great for learning French by reading literal translations in English. Need even more French? Try the French courses at Udemy

Informal French Language

Similar to the reduced forms in English (wanna, gonna, doncha, etc.), there are several informal ways of speaking in French. You will hear these forms very often, but you do not have to speak this way if you don't want to. However, you must be able to understand reduced forms in order to understand real spoken French. You may see these forms in informal written French (such as on blogs or in chat rooms), but you should still write the formal way.

  1. Tu + verb beginning with a vowel
  2. The most common contractions with tu are t'as and t'es, which replace tu as and tu es. You can also contract tu + other verbs that begin with a vowel, such as t'aimes or t'ouvres, which replace tu aimes and tu ouvres.

    T'as fini de manger ? Have you finished eating?
    T'es fatigué ou quoi ? Are you tired or what?
    T'as beau essayer, t'y arrives pas. No matter how much you try, you won't succeed.
    T'as rien compris ! Laisse-moi t'expliquer. You didn't understand! Let me explain it to you.

  3. Unstressed e
  4. The letter e is often dropped between two consonants (e caduc) if it is unstressed, such as in samedi, and also at the end of short words, such as ce, de, je, le, me, que, se, te. It's also common in future and conditional tenses of verbs: donnerai = donn'rai; aimerais = aim'rais

    Il s'lève de bonne heure. He gets up early.
    C'est c'que je veux. That's what I want.
    Faut que j'parte maintenant. I have to leave now.
    Avec ce travail, je ne manqu'rai pas d'argent. With this job, I won't lack money.

  5. Reduced forms: il(s), elle(s), puis, parce que, quelque
  6. The pronouns il and ils reduce to y, while elle and elles reduce to è when followed by a consonant. When followed by a vowel, il and elle reduce to l' whereas ils becomes y z' or just z' and elles becomes è'z'. The word puis is more commonly pronounced pis, parce que is pronounced pasque, and quelque is pronounced quèque.

    Y pense qu'elle l'aime, mais c'est pas le cas. He thinks that she loves him, but that's not the case.
    On va aller au restaurant, et pis après on se fera un ciné. We'll go to the restaurant, and then after we'll go to the movies.
    Pourquoi tu dois m'obéir ? Pasque je suis ton père ! Why must you obey me? Because I'm your father!
    Y a quèque chose la-dessous ! Regarde voir ! There's something down there! Look!

  7. Use on instead of nous
  8. The pronoun on is used much more often to mean we than nous. It always take the third person singular form of the verb even though it's always plural in English.

    On peut y aller ? Tout le monde est là ? Can we go ? Is everybody here ?
    C'est pasqu'on est frères que je te fais confiance. It's because we are brothers that I trust you.
    Pourrait-on accélérer ? On va pas assez vite ! Could we speed it up? We're not going fast enough!

  9. Drop ne in negatives
  10. Although the ne in negatives should always be written, it is very rarely used in informal speech.

    Ça va pas ! C'est nul ! That doesn't work! That's stupid!
    Si tu veux pas voir ce film, lequel veux-tu voir ? If you don't want to see this movie, which one do you want to see?
    Je peux pas m'acheter cette voiture. C'est pas possible. I can't buy myself this car. It's not possible.

  11. Drop -re at end of words
  12. You usually do not pronounce -re at the end of a word, whether it's a verb (mettre) or adjective (notre).

    Allez, à bientôt ! A un de ces quat' ! See you soon one of these days!
    C'est pas vot' problème, c'est not' problème. It's not your problem, it's our problem.
    Y faut pas êt' si bête. You shouldn't be so stupid.

  13. Word order in questions
  14. Word order in questions is less difficult to master in informal spoken French. Inversion and est-ce que are generally not used, and word order is simply subject - verb - question word OR question word - subject - verb.

    Tu fais quoi ? What are you doing?
    On va où ? Where are we going?
    Il parle de quoi ? What's he talking about?

    Pourquoi t'as dit ça ? Why did you say that?
    Quand elle va arriver ? When is she going to arrive?
    Quelle heure il est ? What time is it?

    In addition, ça frequently follows an interrogative to add emphasis, such as in qui ça ? or c'est quoi, ça ?

  15. Forget grammatical rules
  16. Sometimes you can forget the grammar rules that you have learned when speaking informally. An example of this is using à to show possession (in grammatically correct French, you should use de).

    On est dans la chambre à Cyril. We are in Cyril's room.

    Another example is using (r)amener to mean to bring things (back) to some place. In grammatically correct French, you should only use (r)amener with people, and (r)apporter with things.

    J'ai ramené les livres à la médiathèque. I brought the books back to the library.

     


 

Informal French Slang with free audio and exercises

 



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