1. “Bon Ben”
Meaning: Absolutely nothing. Seriously. It’s really just filer and indicates a shift, like “Ok well” or “alright then” or “welp.”
You might say: “Bon ben, it was lovely seeing you, gurl, but I gotta bounce!”
2. “C’est pas vrai”
Pronunciation: say pah vray
Meaning: “You’re kidding! No way!” Used as a reply to mark your surprise at something just said.
Someone says to you: “I finally banged my professor.” Then you are all: “(gasp) C’est pas vrai!!! Yaaaaaass.” And then they are like: “Oh yes, girl. It is totally vrai! Get into how vrai it is!”
Meaning: A lot! Very!
You might say: “We went out dancing last night and it was hyper fun ya’ll.”
You might say: (stubbing your toe) Merde!
5. “Non mais allo quoi”
Pronunciation: No may aloe qwah.
Meaning: This was made popular by the Kim Kardashian of France, so you know it’s excellent French. In order these words spell out “No but hello what.” Which means nothing. I’d put it as…”Hello? Is anybody there?” and I’d liken this to the way we use hi in English. “It’s like hi, are you just going to sit there and watch me do the dishes?”
You might say: Did she think I was seriously going to let her borrow my Saint Laurent pumps? Non mais allo quoi.
6. “C’est too much/c’est un peu too much”
Pronunciation: Don’t be silly, you can do it! KEY: the “too much” must be pronounced in French.
Meaning: Demonstration of a surplus of something, particularly as related to fashion. Example: Oh really? You’re taking it there? That’s where we’re going? This one’s great because everyone can use it, right now.
You might say: Child, her look was un peu too much.
7. “C’est pas possible”
Meaning: This is not working. I can’t believe this. This can’t be happening. Also: REALLY right now? I don’t know why but this is my favorite French-ism. Call me a nerd/weird but it’s kind of hilarious. You use this in situations of protest. Once I was arguing with a French man about a service issue and I said “C’est pas possible” and then he was like, “Ben si, Monsieur. C’est possible.” (Translation: Actually yes, sir, this is happening/is real/deal with it). #DEAD.
You might say: UGH the Internet in this cafe isn’t working AGAIN. C’est pas possible. Or: I hope you’re planning on changing before we go to this club, because this, what you’re wearing right now? C’est pas possible.
8. “Quelle Surprise!”
Pronunciation: Kelle sur preeze!
Meaning: Wow! How nice! What a surprise!
You might say: I didn’t know you were coming over. Quelle surprise!
Meaning: The word itself means “what,” but when most people use it it means absolutely nothing. Feel free to toss this bad boy in wherever you feel like it, especially at the end of your sentences if you really want to sound like a Francophile.
You might say: And then I told him that I couldn’t be with him anymore quoi.
Pronunciation: Okay so this one is spelled online and in text messages, so don’t go around saying “mdr” at people…though I do say LOL aloud sometimes.
Meaning: MDR = Mort de rire = LOL = Laugh out loud.
You might say: Just use MDR in place of LOL.
11. “C’est ouf”
Pronunciation: Say OOOOOOF.
Meaning: The literal inverse of “c’est fou,” which means “That’s cray cray.”
You might say: (Confronted with strange situation) C’est ouf, ca!
12. “(gasp) Qu’est-ce que c’est?”
Pronunciation: Khes kuh sey.
Meaning: Don’t be silly! We all know what this means, as it’s the first thing you learn in French class. But the real way to usher this French phrase into English is to use it to add a splash of drama when you are faced with something amazing.
You might say: Someone approaches you in a ridiculously amazing outfit, all you have to say is “Ooooooooh, qu’est-ce que c’est?” And then POOF: they know you think it’s fabulous.
Meaning: Serving a look, standing out through fashion. Like, wow.
You might say: I LOVE the way you look in those pants, you are sooo looké, bitch. Yaaas. Work.