You want to start learning French and have no idea where to search? Here’s the most useful guide for absolute beginners. Learn these basic French sentences to impress native speakers and check out the audio recordings to make sure your pronunciation is on point! These are the 20 sentences I would give anyone who wants to survive in France with the absolute minimum. 

Should you learn full sentences when learning a language?

Learning entire sentences, as opposed to simple vocabulary acquisition, can be extremely beneficial. While you shouldn’t memorize sentences and expect to speak a language, starting out with formed expressions can help you not only speaking faster but also improve your listening and overall comprehension. 

Where to start when learning a language?

1. Hello in French

Good morning/good afternoon 

I mean.. duh! Of course, knowing this in any language is important. But knowing how to greet in French is specifically important because of the cultural expectation to greet everyone. If you enter a shop, for example, you must say bonjour, and if you don’t, you’ll be perceived as impolite. 

What about Salut

Your French teacher or textbook might have taught you salut as the translation for hello. Although that is technically true, we rarely use salut when greeting someone we don’t know. It is a casual word French natives only use with friends or family. 

2. Good Bye in French

Au revoir.
Good bye.

Similarly, as you leave a place, you must say a farewell. If you don’t want to be hated by French people, this is a must. 

3. Thank You in French

Again, politeness and French culture go together. It is so ingrained in French speakers that you will often hear them say the French word for thank you, merci, even when speaking English. Just a simple merci will get you a long way in France. 


Thank you

4. Asking For Help in French 


Now let’s get into the real stuff. Here are simple French sentences that you will need to survive. In the unfortunate event that you are lost, need directions, or just need help for anything, these few sentences will come in handy. 


Excusez-moi, vous pouvez m’aider? 
Excuse-me, can you help me?


Où est le restau le plus proche? 
Where is the nearest restaurant? 

Of course you can replace restaurant by whatever it is you are looking for. Here is a list of places in the city. 


Quel bus/metro va jusqu’à l’aéroport? 
Which bus/underground goes to the airport? 

Now, I know it’s 2023 and people don’t really ask this anymore, they just look it up on google maps. But if you’re in a situation of emergency, and don’t have data or your phone dies, it’s good to know how to ask which bus you must take towards your destination. 


Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire?
What does it mean?


Pardon, j(e n’)ai pas bien entendu. Vous pouvez répéter?
Sorry, I didn’t hear properly. Can you repeat?


C’est où?
Where is it?


C’est par où? 
It’s in which direction? 


Je suis perdu(e)
I’m lost


C’est à gauche. 
It’s on the left.


Tournez à droite. 
Turn right. 

5. Ordering Food in French / At a Shop

I would like…


Est-ce que vous avez…?
Do you have…? 


C’est quoi ça?
What is this?

Questions at the Airport/Customs. 

Je suis ici pour les vacances. 
I’m here for the holidays. 


Je reste une semaine.
Il staying for one week. 


Did you like this post? Consider leaving a comment or pinning it ❤️

Want to learn French and speak like a native? Book a free trial class with me (Use my link to get $10 off, scroll down a bit to see my profile) 


Scroll to Top