So you need to learn some French for a shopping trip in France.
This quick and easy guide tells you some essential French language vocabulary to help you to learn how to communicate quickly and effectively in French shops.
1. Je voudrais (“I would like”)
A lot of people know “Je voudrais” means “I would like” in French, but don´t know this easy phrase can be used in many ways.
It could be followed by an object (e.g. Je voudrais un café au lait – I would like a coffee with milk).
It can also be used to say that you would like to do something. For example:
Je voudrais payer. (I would like to pay)
Je voudrais regarder ça. (I would like to look at that)
Je voudrais acheter ça. (I would like to buy that)
Essentially you put a second verb after the first verb to say what you want to do, for example:
If you look up “pay” you will see “payer” which means “to pay”
Looking up “look at” you will see “regarder” which means “to look at”
If you look up “buy” you will see “acheter” which means “to buy”
Some useful verbs to use with "je voudrais" include:
- Acheter (To buy)
- Aller (To go)
- Boire (To drink)
- Changer (To change)
- Envoyer (To send)
- Louer (To hire)
- Manger (To eat)
- Payer (To pay/To pay for)
- Regarder (To look at/To watch)
2. Puis-je....? (“May I…?”/”Can I….?”)
You can use “Puis-je?” meaning “May I?” or “Can I?” in French in the same way as “Je voudrais” above. It can be used to ask permission to do something in a similar way to English, for example:
Puis-je payer? (May I pay?)
Puis je regarder ça? (May I look at that?)
3. Je regarde (I´m just looking)
Shop assistants may ask you at some point “Puis-je vous aider?” meaning “Can I help you?”.
Upon hearing this, most non-French speakers immediately freeze and don´t know what to say. If you´re just browsing in French you can simply say “Je regarde” meaning “I´m just looking”.
4. C´est combien? (“How much is it?”)
The simple phrase “C´est combien?” meaning “How much is it?” when asking the price for something is invaliable.
One tip is if you don´t know your French numbers, you could always ask the French speaker “Écrivez le prix, s´il vous plaît” (meaning “Write the price, please”)
5. Où est…? (“Where is…?”)
If you find yourself lost in a French speaking country, just ask someone “Où est…?” (“Where is…?”) plus the name of your place.
You could alternatively ask “Il y a….?” which means “Is there…?/Are there….?”
Some useful places to use with these French phrases are:
- L’/Un aéroport (the/an airport)
- La/Une banque (the/a bank)
- La/Une boulangerie (the/a baker’s)
- Le/un café (the/a café)
- Le/un cinéma (the/a cinema)
- La/une gare (the/a railway station)
- La/une gare routière (the/a bus station)
- L’/un hôtel (the/a hotel)
- Le/un marché (the/a market)
- Le/un parking (the/a car park)
- La/une patisserie (the/a cake shop or baker´s)
- La/une pharmacie (the/a pharmacy)
- La poste (the post office)
- Le/un restaurant (the/a restaurant)
- La/une station d'essence (the/a petrol station)
- Le/un supermarché (the/a supermarket)
- Le/un théâtre (the/a theatre)
6. L´addition, s´il vous plaît (“The bill, please”)
This one is easy to forget, but essential in French restaurants.
7. De rien (”No problem”)
Most people learning to speak French know “Merci” means “Thanks” or “Thank you”, but don´t know what to say when someone says it to you.
In short, you say “De rien” which means “No problem”. (Literally it means “Of nothing”).
8. C´est trop grand/petit/cher (“It´s too big/small/expensive”)
These phrases are self-explanatory, but are especially useful for any shopping trip.
Improve your French with French lessons
Now that you have learnt some simple French shopping phrases, why not start taking your French to the next stage by taking French tuition? French tuition is typically £23 for a hour on a one-to-one basis and no prior knowledge is required to start. More details on French tuition offered can be seen here.