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.
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
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 ?
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
Lettre de Recommandation – Reference Letter
un poste – a post
candidature spontanée – unsolicited application
Common Formulas for Beginning and Ending French Letters has a section on writing French business letters.