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Useful French Business Phrases

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 4/5/2012

French is an important global language. It is considered the world’s second international language; and the power to communicate in French in daily life or in the world of business, travel or academics, is a very valuable skill. In this article, you can learn how to speak business French.

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    French for Business

    As the world changes rapidly these days, so too does language. In order to communicate effectively, precise vocabulary is essential in order to convey clear messages, and to understand. This article aims at extending your knowledge of French with some terms associated with business, so you can communicate competently.

    There are certain words related to business which crop up quite often in any language. Whether it is a business report on the airwaves, or an article online, in the newspaper or magazine, a newsletter, or in a telephone conversation. The word ‘company 'or ‘firm’ for example, (la compagnie/l'entreprise); or the word ‘General Manager’ (le PDG/président-directeur-général) are almost unavoidable.

    For easy reference the vocabulary in this article is divided under three different headings. Let’s start with some general expressions.

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    General Terms Found in Different Media

    une entreprise/sociéte - company

    une filiale - a subsidiary or branch

    la gestion/direction - management

    les honoraires - fees

    la marque déposée - registered trademark

    les matières premières - raw materials

    sans but lucrative - not profit-making

    le siège social - head office

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    The Telephone

    Next, let’s look at words used in business conversations over the telephone:

    Most often when you dial the number of a business, and the person at the other end announces the name of the company, if you know the extension of the person you would like to speak to, you may ask for it. The word for extension in French is le poste. You would probably say:

    -Bonjour, je voudrais le poste 152, s’il vous plaît

    Here are some expressions:

    Ne quittez pas - Hold the line

    Je vous le (la) passe - I’ll put you through to him (her)

    C’est (la ligne est) occupe(é-) The line's busy

    Est-ce que vous voulez patienter - Would you mind holding a moment

    ou rappeler plus tard? - or would you like to call back later?

    Est-ce que je peux prendre (laisser) - Could I take (leave) a message ?

    un message?

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    Business Correspondence

    A Qui De Droit- To Whom it may Concern

    une announce - an advertisement

    un entretien - an interview

    demande de renseignements - request for information

    Divers- Other Information

    Formation- Training

    Lettre de Recommandation - Reference Letter

    un poste - a post

    candidature spontanée - unsolicited application

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    Additional information

    Common Formulas for Beginning and Ending French Letters has a section on writing French business letters.