Whether you are planning to vacation in or move to a French country, or you would like to communicate better with French-speaking friends and family members, it is essential that you learn some basic questions. French is a beautiful language of romance. While there is a learning curve, it will not take long before you take command of the language.
French is the official language in 29 countries. Roughly 12 percent of the European Union’s population speak this language as its native tongue. On the American continent in Canada, most of the population speaks both English and French. In fact, when visiting Canada, store products list information in English on one side of the packaging and in French on the other side.
Overall, French is the fourth-most widely spoken language throughout Europe. That means that when traveling or moving to a country where this is the primary language, you will find it handy in virtually every situation. Whether you are buying groceries or clothes, dining out, or asking for directions, you can rely on many of the questions provided.
French Question Words
Below are single words that you can use to start learning how to ask for something. These are the most basic question words in French.
- Où? – Where?
- Pourquoi? – Why?
- Comment? – How?
- Qui? – Who?
- Quelle? – What?
- Quand? – When?
Once you learn these, learning complete question sentences becomes easier.
Emergency Question Phrases
The following are questions in the form of sentences that you can use for different scenarios:
- Comment contacter la police? – How can I contact the police?
- Quelqu’un peut appeler s’il vous plaît une ambulance? – Can someone please call an ambulance?
- Où est un endroit sûr où aller? – Where is a safe place to go?
- Y a-t-il un docteur à proximité? – Is there a doctor nearby?
- Quelqu’un peut-il s’il vous plaît m’aider à trouver mon chemin à (place)? – Can someone please help me find my way to (place)?
General Conversation Question Phrases
For general conversations, the following represent some of the most commonly asked questions.
- Comment allez-vous? – How are you?
- Passes tu une bonne journée? – Are you having a good day?
- Comment vous appelez-vous? – What is your name?
- D’où êtes-vous? – Where are you from?
- Vivez-vous ici? – Do you live here?
- Quels sites touristiques recommandez-vous? – What tourist sites do you recommend?
- Où puis-je héler un taxi? – Where can I hail a cab?
- Où est la station de bus la plus proche? – Where is the nearest bus station?
- Quel est le restaurant préféré du coin? – What is the locals’ favorite restaurant?
Shopping Question Phrases
People love shopping. Before traveling to a French-speaking country, it will help to learn some basic questions, such as those listed below.
- Où se trouve l’épicerie la plus proche? – Where is the nearest grocery store?
- Quel magasin de vêtements recommandez-vous? – What clothing store do you recommend?
- Puis-je essayer ceci, s’il vous plaît? – May I try this on, please?
- Avez-vous cela dans une taille différente? – Do you have this in a different size?
- Acceptez-vous la monnaie américaine? – Do you accept American currency?
- Acceptez-vous les cartes de crédit? – Do you accept credit cards?
- Où puis-je trouver du pain frais? – Where can I find fresh bread?
- Quel marché devrais-je visiter pour les fruits et légumes frais? – What market do you recommend for fresh fruits and vegetables?
Dining Question Phrases
For one of the best meals of your life, make sure you visit a local restaurant when visiting a French-speaking country. No matter which café or restaurant you go to, it is nearly impossible to have a bad meal. Although there are endless possibilities, the following are some of the top choices in France.
- Bœuf bourguignon – Beef stewed in red wine
- Coq au vin – Chicken braised in red wine, mushrooms, and lardons
- Escargots de Bourgogne – Snails baked in their shells with parsley butter
- Gougère – Cheese in choux pastry
- Jambon persillé – Marbled ham with parsley, also called Jambon de Pâques
- Pain au chocolat – Exquisite chocolate rolled inside a flaky pastry
- Religieuse – Choux pastry filled with cream pastry, covered in a ganache of the same flavor and piped whipped cream
- Crème brulee – Rich custard topped with a hard layer of caramel
Additional questions for a remarkable dining experience include:
- Prenez-vous des réservations? – Do you take reservations?
- Pouvons-nous avoir une table pour deux, s’il vous plaît? – May we have a table for two, please? (For more people, swap out “deux,” which is “two,” for a different number).
- Puis-je voir un menu? – May I see a menu?
- Quel vin suggérez-vous? – What wine do you suggest?
- Avez-vous une spécialité de la maison? – Do you have a house specialty?
- Offrez-vous des sièges à l’extérieur? – Do you offer outside seating?
- Pouvons-nous avoir une table avec une vue? – Can we have a table with a view?
- Pouvons-nous avoir le chèque, s’il vous plaît? – May we have the check, please?
Sightseeing Question Phrases
Many French-speaking countries have incredible sightseeing opportunities. For instance, in France, you can visit the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, the Notre-Dame, and the French Riviera, among many others. In Canada, consider places like Niagara Falls, Banff National Park, the CN Tower in Toronto, and Old Montreal. When in Belgium, the best tourist sites include La Grande Place, the Battlefields of Flanders, Ghent’s Gravensteen, Old Town, and the Horta Museum.
Regardless of your destination, the following French question words and phrases will help you with your sightseeing adventures.
- Comment puis-je aller à (place)? – How do I get to (place)?
- Combien ça coûte de voir (site)? – How much does it cost to see (site)?
- Quelles heures êtes-vous ouvert? – What hours are you open?
- Où puis-je obtenir les directions à votre emplacement? – Where can I get directions to your location?
- Quelles sont vos heures d’opérations? – What are your hours of operation?
- Adaptez-vous aux personnes handicapées? – Do you accommodate people with disabilities?
- Y a-t-il une limite d’âge? – Is there an age restriction?
- Y at-il quelque chose de spécial que je devrais savoir? – Is there anything special I should know?
- Avez-vous un parking à proximité? – Do you have parking nearby?
- Combien ça coûte de visiter? – How much does it cost to visit?
As you hone your skills in French, you will become increasingly excited. Along with French question words and phrases, you will need to focus on pronunciation and, eventually, accent. Before long, you will fit right in with the locals in French-speaking countries.