What you should avoid saying in French
Outdated expressions that make you sound less proficient
I’m introducing a new grammar series, sent every Wednesday. Hope you like it! You’ll always receive the main article. My paid subscribers will also have access to bonus material and exercises.
There are certain words and expression learned from books, websites or apps that are outdated.
You should stop using them and replace them with more modern equivalents.
There are also expressions that might work well in other languages, but don’t work in French. Here’s a list of words and expression you should (mostly) ban from your vocabulary!
Comme ci, comme ça
Stop saying comme-ci, comme ça. No one actually says this anymore. Instead, you say:
Comment ça va?
Don’t ask a native French speaker: comment dit-on?
Using inverted questions sounds outdated.
Comment on dit ça?
Comment ça se dit?
Comment est-ce qu’on dit?
Stop saying c’est bon to mean the English “it’s okay” or “I’m good.”
Comment ça va au travail?
C’est bon!Ça va bien!
However, you can use c’est bon to mean “that works for me.”
Peux-tu venir jeudi prochain?
Oui, jeudi, c’est bon
Never use mon ami alone, even though you might have heard it in a Disney movie. Saying mon ami can also make you sound like a sleazy salesperson…
You can of course say mon ami in the context of a sentence.
Je suis contente que tu sois mon amie
I’m happy that you are my friend.
But don’t say:
Bonjour mon ami!
Monsieur Brad, Madame Angelina
If you say monsieur or madame, it must be said alone, or accompanied by a last name. It cannot be accompanied by a first name.
Bonjour monsieur Brad! Bonjour monsieur Pitt! Bonjour madame Angelina! Bonjour madame Jolie!
Never say garçon in a restaurant or café.
Garçon means “boy” but in France, also meant garçon de café. Nowadays, a waiter is called un serveur/une serveuse.
You can simply raise your hand, make eye contact and say s’il vous plait or pardon.
Likewise, mademoiselle is not a good word to use anymore, as it might be considered sexist and outdated. It’s still used, but its usage is falling.
Madame is best, for most women of all ages. But you can simply drop the madame altogether for a young woman.
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Bonus: Outdated Quebecois Expressions
Here are 12 outdated words and expressions that are no longer popular in Quebec.
Bonjour, to mean “Au Revoir”
Bonjour used to mean “Hello” but also “Have a good day!” I kind of miss that people don’t use Bonjour in that way anymore. Nowadays, it’s more common to say bonne journée.