November 13, 2023

The Power Of Small Words

If you've ever found yourself hesitating in a French conversation, unsure of the right words to use, or longing for a more natural flow, you're not alone. Interacting in French goes beyond grammar rules; it's about embracing expressions that add color and authenticity to your communication.

Day to day conversations are punctuated with small, yet very important expressions. They provide a more flowing and natural interaction with native speakers.

Here are 5 expressions to better interact in a French conversation!

1. Bon, alors, donc

These three small words are very often used to introduce a new thought.

  • Bon / Alors / Donc, tu es prêt? (So, are you ready?)
  • Bon / Alors / Donc, qu'est-ce qu'on fait? (So, what are we doing?)

Donc and alors also connect the cause to the consequence.

  • Je n'ai pas d'argent donc / alors je ne peux pas acheter de café aujourd'hui. (I don't have any money, so / therefore I can't buy a coffee. today)
  • Il n'entend pas bien alors / donc il me demande souvent de répéter. (He doesn't hear well, so he often asks me to repeat.)

Click below to listen to the pronunciation of these examples.

2. C'est exact!  Tout à fait!  Voilà!

These are very useful sentences which you will most probably use every day. There are several ways to confirm what someone says in French:

  • Vous vous appelez Isabelle?  C'est exact. (Your name is Isabelle? That's correct.)
  • Est-ce que cette table est libre? Tout à fait. (Is this table free? It is, indeed. / Yes, it is.)
  • Le magasin est ouvert de 9h00 à 17h00, n'est-ce pas / c'est bien ça / ou bien? Tout à fait / Voilà / Ouais!  (The shop is opened from 9 AM to 5 PM, isn't it / that's correct / eh? It is, indeed. / Yes, it is. / Yup!)

3. Volontiers!  Bien sûr!  Avec plaisir!

You now manage ''oui'' and ''non''? Bravo! Now let's find other ways to answer positively to a question in a more elegant, oh-so-French way!

  • Est-ce que vous aimeriez une tasse de thé? Volontiers! (Would you like a cup of tea? Yes, please = gladly!)
  • Est-ce que vous parlez français? Bien sûr! (Do you speak French? But of course! / I certainly do!)
  • Merci beaucoup pour votre aide.  Je vous en prie / Avec plaisir! (Thank you so much for your help. You're very welcome! / With pleasure!)

4. (Pas) Vraiment

Vraiment is an exclamation used to express interest, surprise, or doubt. The negative form, pas vraiment, shows that you do not fully like or feel up to something. 

  • Elle a bu toute la bouteille de champagne!  Vraiment?! (She drank the entire bottle of champagne! Seriously / Really?!)
  • Vous aimez le foie gras? Pas vraiment. (Do you like foie gras? Not really.)
  • Tu as envie de voir un film? Pas vraiment. (Do you feel like watching a movie? Not really.)

5. C'est + adjectif

If you feel that you understand French better than you speak, make sure to use these expressions to comment on the stories your French speaking friends will share with you. Add a little tellement / vraiment here and there et voilà! Best way to interact with minimum intervention!

  • C'est génial! (That's brilliant!)
  • C'est dégoûtant! (That's disgusting!)
  • C'est tellement déprimant! (That's so depressing!)
  • C'est incroyable! (That's incredible!)
  • C'est terrible! (No translation needed here, n'est-ce pas?!)

Small words, but one giant leap towards the improvement of your day to day conversation in French!

I hope you now have more tools to boost your confidence and better interact in a French conversation!


As a native Québécoise, born to a Franco-Belgian family, now living in Nyon with her two children, Isabelle is no stranger to the expat reality! Trained as a professional opera singer, her passion for arts and languages led her to become an ambassador of the French language & francophone culture, i.e. a French Teacher!

She founded Prêt à Parler in January 2015. Since then she's been hard at work helping native and non-native English-speaking expats make French part of their everyday life! Prêt à Parler's mission is based on what Isabelle does best: helping busy professionals and parents improve their French language skills by providing a high quality, eco-friendly, fun, no-nonsense approach to learning French online!

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