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5 filler words to improve your Frenchness.

If you visit France often or made already moved there you will know that grammar books French is a long way from the real-life spoken French.

Listen into conversations among French people in shops, cafés and see if you can hear any of these filler words. .

Filler words are meaningless little words to fill in gaps or silences and are used to:

- Give you a bit of time to think about what you are going to say next

- Add emphasis to something you have just said

- Indicate to others that you haven’t finished what you were going to say.

Whilst I am not suggesting that you should use loads of them – they can get quite annoying – using them sparingly will make you sound more French. Give it a try next time you are at the boulangerie or another shop where you get served. Best place to start as they always say “et avec ceci?” once you have said the first thing you wanted so use a euh…” and then say what else you wish to get. Note: The last one is very casual, so be careful with whom you use them!

1. Euh… (Uh…)

No doubt you have heard that one before – It’s one of the most used ones and is the one the French will use to mark a little pause or show some hesitation.

Et avec ceci? => Euh, 3 croissants svp (well, 3 croissants please) Où est la gare ? => Euh… tout droit et à droite je crois. (Well, straight on and then right, I think)

2. Bah / ben / beh … (well)

Very similar to « euh » which means « bien» and can also be used in a “duh” to state the obvious or “well” to show indecision.

Tu veux un autre verre de vin? => Bah oui ! (of course) Tu vas chez Thomas demain soir ? => Ben, je sais pas. J’ai du boulot en retard. (well, not sure)

3. Enfin (Finally, at last or literally, in the end) - Enfin bref (together: “to cut a long story short)

Je suis enfin propriétaire => I am finally a homeowner

Enfin bref, on ira en vacances à Bordeaux => Enfin + bref are often used together, and could be translated as “to cut a long story short”.

4. Alors (so, then) A good way to start a sentence if you want to get people’s attention on what you are about to say.

Alors, qui va au restau ce soir ? => So, who’se going to the restaurant tonight?

Alors, vous pensez quoi de ce film ? => So, what do you think of that film ?

5. Hein? (what? / Ins’t it?) This is the most informal one, so use carefully, but one you will hear a lot amongst friends / families.

-Qu’est ce que tu veux manger ce soir ? - Hein ? (What do you fancy eating tonight? What?) or Il était génial ce film, hein ? => That film was fab, wasn’t it ?

Give it a try in shops or with French friends or families and let me know how you got on and if people noticed your Frenchness. Just don’t overdo it. A bientôt! Sophie

PS: For those of you who haven’t tried Fitting in with the French’s programme yet, give us a go for a FREE trial! One week to read, write, listen and speak French with the support of myself, a native French tutor. Sign up here for your trial – places are limited.

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