Common French Idioms In Conversation
Think of it like the English “Salutations", except with a more informal connotation—a simple “Hi!" or “Hello!"
It sounds strange to the ear of many English speakers, but the French tend to say their “Good morning/evening/night"s when meeting someone, not necessarily just when departing each other.
Comment vas-tu? (informal), Comment allez-vous? (formal)
The French version of “How are you?", translating literally as “How goes it?" Not all English speakers are accustomed to this change in verb for expressing wellness in a person, though it varies by region. Many of the infinite possible responses also use “aller" instead of what we'd assume, “être", like “Je vais bien", literally “I go well" but more like, “I'm good."
Et toi? (informal), Et vous? (formal)
“And you?", can be used to reflect many questions. This one gets a lot of use, especially when you're getting to know someone.
Literally “Like this, like that", this phrase is equivalent to our “so-so", in response to a question like the above.
Il n'y a pas de quoi, (De) rien
Ever modest, the French version of “You're welcome" would literally translate as “It's nothing". While phrases like “ça fait mon plaisir (literally “That does my pleasure", equivalent to “It's my pleasure") exist, it's more common for the French to receive a merci, no matter how deserved, with a deflection of the act.
Quoi de neuf?
Literally “What of [the] new?", this one sounds fairly similar to the English equivalent, “What's new?", just without the verb.
Pas grand chose.
A possible response to the above question, literally “Not [a] big thing". Think of it like our “Nothing much."
Pardon, Pardonne-moi (informal), Pardonnez-moi (formal), Excuse-moi (informal), Excusez-moi (formal)
Exactly what they sound like. “Pardonner" and “excuser" can be used more or less interchangeably, though the subtle difference between them is that the former is used more to apologize for the bump in the crowd, while the latter is more for an interruption to begin a conversation.
À plus tard!
Literally, “To later!", matching our English, “See you later!"
One of the most recognizably French phrases out there, literally translating to, “To the re-see", or more close to the original meaning, “Until we see each other again" or “Until next time!"