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The 10 English words that will really make you sound cool in France

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The 10 English words that will really make you sound cool in France
Life in France? C'est trop fun. Photo: AFP

Just as some English people like to toss the odd French phrase into conversation to give themselves a certain je ne sais quoi, so the French are quite fond of an English word or two. Here are some you can use to best effect.


As an English speaker in France, you will find yourself at a disadvantage plenty of times when you misunderstand people or unintentionally say something extremely rude to your boss, but being an Anglophone does give you one advantage.

Just as certain English speakers believe that a mélange is more sophisticated than a mixture, so in France sometimes using an English word will make you appear cooler or more sophisticated.

READ ALSO The nine French words you need to be very, very careful when pronouncing

But beware - just because someone has thrown a random English word into conversation, don't assume this means they speak English. They are likely to be confused and frightened if you take their use of one English word to start a lengthy technical conversation in English with them.

And in bad news, you can't just toss in a random English word when you've forgotten what it is in French.

Saying "Bonjour, pouvez-vous m'aider? J'essaie de trouver le . . . er, doctor's surgery" is unlikely to make you sound cool.

But if you're chatting with French people, especially younger ones, you will notice that some English words are used a lot. Here are some of the most common.


Cool - yes, to sound cool, you say cool. Throwing in a casual c'est cool or il est si cool will really make you fit in with the cool crowd.

Job - not sure how this one came about, but you will frequently hear younger French people say je cherche un job if they are job hunting.

Bye bye - if you're saying farewell you can of course stick to the French Au revoir, but if you want a foreign alternative you could go Italian with ciao or ciao ciao or English with 'bye bye'.

Buzz - if you want to explain that a person or product is generating a lot of hype and chatter, you can use 'buzz'. This is used a lot in marketing or advertising, but it's increasingly slipping in to everyday conversation too. Il y a un vrai buzz autour de ce nouveau site de rencontre  - There's a real buzz around that new dating site.

Too much - Just as certain types of English speakers like to slip in a du trop to describe something that is over the top and simply too much, so in France you can use the English phrase. Une robe, des talons hauts et un maquillage complet juste pour aller au cinéma? C'est too much. - A dress, high heels and full make-up just  for the cinema? It's too much.


Fake - another language swap is fake. Where the English like to talk about faux fur or faux leather, France has incorporated 'fake' into everyday use. The phrase 'fake news' is often heard (despite the Academie française coming up with a French alternative - infox) but it's also used more generally.  Je la déteste, elle est trop fake - I hate her, she's so fake.

Happy hour - The English tradition of drinks discounts at a certain time, usually in the early evening straight after work, has very much taken off in France, especially in the cities. So much so that people might now ask you Tu veux qu'on se retrouve pour un Happy Hour ce soir? - Do you want to meet for a drink this evening?

Guess what - if you want to add a sarcastic 'guess what' into conversation, you can use the English phrase to give it a bit of extra punch. Guess what, le bus est encore en retard - Guess what, the bus is late again.


Fun - There's even a French radio station called Radio Fun and the phrase has well and truly penetrated into everyday use. On a été patiner sous la Tour Eiffel, c'était trop fun - We went ice skating under the Eiffel Tower - it was so fun.

Fuck - Inexplicably, despite having their own excellent swearword (Putain) the French do love a good fuck and casually pepper their conversations with it. In fact it's very casually used, as some of its impact in English seems to be lost when it's used in France. You will frequently see it in newspaper headlines and French TV station Canal Plus once ran a popular section called What the Fuck, France? So you could say J'en ai marre de cette fucking confinement - I'm sick of this fucking lockdown.

This is just a short selection, feel free to get in touch with suggestions for additions to the list - [email protected].






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Anonymous 2020/06/18 17:51
I hear Le challenge<br />Un boost also!
Anonymous 2020/06/18 17:32
I find the increasing number of anglicisms being absorbed into the American language depressing too.
Anonymous 2020/05/12 09:04
It isn't compulsory. If you want to speak and write, in what in your eyes is correct, do that. The reason English has dominated the planet linguistically for so long is its fluidity to adopt new usages and foreign terms. It's evolved, that's all. Resistance to change is common among the old and British, unlike their language ironically....
Anonymous 2020/05/05 18:34
I find that the increasing number of Americanisms being enthusiastically absorbed by the English language is just as sad.
Anonymous 2020/05/05 17:24
The direction the French language is going is very very sad.
Anonymous 2019/12/11 15:36
'bicoz' used to be cool

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