Can You Pass This French Phrases Practice Test?


By: Laura DeFazio

7 Min Quiz

Image: Unsplash by MR WONG

About This Quiz

French — like Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian and the 18 or so other Romance languages — is descended from Vulgar Latin, a form of everyday Latin spoken during the time the Roman Empire ruled over much of Europe. Various regional dialects began splitting off from Vulgar Latin and turning into their own languages once the Western Roman Empire fell in the fifth century. The Latin dialect spoken in Gaul, a region encompassing modern-day France, evolved into the Gallo-Romance language group.

Old French developed out of the Gallo-Romance languages, followed by Middle and then Modern French. French replaced Latin as the official administrative language of France in 1539. In the 17th century, it replaced Latin as the "lingua franca" (that's where the phrase comes from, although these days it's English) used in international diplomacy.

Today, French is an official national language of 29 different countries. It's the sole official language of 13 different countries: France, Benin, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Mali, Monaco, Niger, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Togo. Its prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa, where the population is skyrocketing, it's making French one of the fastest-growing languages today, if not the fastest-growing. The International Organization of the Francophonie projects that there'll be over 700 million French speakers on the planet by 2050, up from 275 million today.

French has always been a popular second-language choice, but these days it's looking like it will be a major player in the global market of the future. Do yourself a favor and start learning it today, or brushing up on what you learned in school. This quiz is a good place to start. Bonne chance!

You want to ask a French-speaking person how they're doing. Which of the following is a good way to do it?

"Comment allez-vous?" is the correct way to ask someone how they are in French. Word for word, it translates to "How go you?" This is the more formal version of the inquiry. If you're speaking to a friend or family member, you might want to ask "Comment tu vas?" instead. "Tu" is the more casual version of the second person pronoun.


You're introduced to somebody new. How do you ask them their name in French?

"Comment tu t'appelles?" or "How are you called?" is the correct way to ask someone their name is in an informal way. In many cases, upon first meeting someone, it would be more appropriate to use the formal "Comment vous appelez-vous?"


One of the most handy phrases for a traveler abroad who's new to the language is, "I don't speak much French." How do you say it?

"Le français" is the name for the French language. "Je" is the first-person subject pronoun, "parler" is the verb "to speak" and "beaucoup" means much. The word "pas" makes the sentence negative, along with "ne." Voilà! "Je ne parle pas beaucoup le français."


Do you the meaning of the phrase, "Je ne me sens pas bien"?

"Je ne me sens pas bien" is how you tell someone you don't feel well. The verb "sentir" is used here as "to feel," but it can also mean "to smell" or sometimes "to taste." So, don't mix this phrase up with "Je ne sens pas bon," because that means that you don't smell good.


"S'il te plaît" is a handy phrase when speaking French. Do you know what it means?

Word for word, this translates to "if it pleases you," using the verb "plaire" (to please). The English translation may sound stuffy or old-timey, but it's normal in French. The term "s'il vous plaît" is probably better known globally, which means the same thing but makes use of the more formal second-person subject pronoun, "vous."


The question "Ça va?" is heard all the time in French-speaking parts of the world. Do you know what it means?

"Ça va" is a versatile little phrase that can serve as both the question "How's it going?" and the catch-all answer "It goes." It can be a vague pleasantry or a concerned response to a specific occurrence (for example, someone falls down) to say, "Hey, are you good? Is everything okay?" It is also correct to put "comment," the French word for "how" in front of the phrase.


Let's say your name is Ben. How do you let somebody know that, in French?

Both answers are correct, and both are commonly used. "Je m'appelles Ben" translates to "I call myself Ben." (This sounds oddly formal in English, but is perfectly everyday in French.) "Mon nom est Ben" translates to "My name is Ben."


You get a little lost on a French sightseeing tour. How do you ask where the church is?

Without the accent on the U, the phrase becomes "Or is the church," which doesn't make sense as a standalone statement. "Qui est l'èglise?" means "Who is the church?", and "Pourquoi y-a-t-il un èglise?" means "Why is there a church?" (And, well, both of which are perhaps a bit much to ask of one's tour guide!)


You're running late to meet some French friends for dinner, and they call to ask what the hold-up is. How do you tell them that you're still looking for the restaurant?

In French, the verber "chercher" translates to "to search" but is used colloquially like the term "to look for." Somewhat confusingly, "toujours" can mean either "always" or "still," but context usually provides the answer.


Your dinner companion tells the waiter, "Je voudrais le poulet et les pommes de terre avec une verre du vin." What are they asking for?

"Je voudrais" means "I would like." ("Je veux" for "I want" would be correct too, although not as polite.) "Poulet" is chicken, and "pommes de terre" (which word for word says "apples of the earth") are potatoes. If your friend had wanted a glass of water instead of wine, they would have ordered "un verre d'eau."


Upon detecting your English accent, a French speaker might ask where you're from. How might they say that?

"D'où êtes-vous?" Translates directly to "From (de) where (où) are (êtes) you (vous)?" and is one of the most common ways to ask this question. Beginning a sentence with "Est-ce que ..." is another common way to structure certain questions, but none of the examples here are grammatically correct.


Can you determine the correct translation for "I am from Louisiana"?

Translated literally, this says "I come from Louisiana." There is an alternative, "Je suis de la Louisiane," with the verb "to be," that is correct as well. Louisiana is one of 13 states that has a slightly different spelling in French than in English. Historically, "la Lousiane" was an 827,000-square-mile tract of North American land sold by France to the U.S. in 1803.


Can you translate the phrase, "Je suis desolé" to English?

"Je suis desolé" is the masculine form of the phrase. Women use "desolée" instead, which is pronounced the same way. In many contexts, this phrase is interchangeable with "Pardon" and "Excusez-moi" ("Pardon" and "Excuse me.") Those terms, although perfectly adequate for accidentally bumping into someone on the subway or forgetting a loose acquaintance's name, might not carry enough weight in cases where one wants to sincerely express regret or sorrow.


Do you know which of the following phrases means "I love you" in French?

The verb "to love" in French is "aimer." Conjugated for the first-person pronoun, it's "j'aime" (I love). To tell someone you love them, you add the second-person direct-object pronoun, "te." Since the verb begins with a vowel, you drop the E and attach the T to the subsequent word with an apostrophe. Voilà: "Je t'aime."


The question, "C'est combien, ça?" is one you might use while out and about in a city or a town. What does it mean?

"Combien" means "how much" in French. "C'est" means "it is," and "ça" means "that," so the literal translation is "It is how much, that?" This is a somewhat conversational way to phrase the question; a slightly more by-the-book version would be "Combien ça coûte?" or, "How much does that cost?"


Even though everyone carries cell phones these day, you might still find yourself needing to ask someone what time it is. Do you know how you would do this in French?

This translates literally to "What hour is it?" The second option translates to "What is time?" (As in, the concept of time. A little bit too deep for beginning conversational French.) The third option asks what the weather is (yes, "temps" can mean mean either), and the last option asks "who" the hour is.


You're on vacation in France and head over to a shop in search of souvenirs. The shopkeeper opens the door only to tell you that the store opens at noon. How might they phrase this?

The word for "store" in French is "magasin." (The word for "magazine" is "magazine.") The French word for "noon" is "midi. ("Minuit" means "midnight.") The verb to open is "ouvrir," which becomes "ouvre" when conjugated to the third-person singular.


Your French-Morroccan pen pal writes you asking, "Quel est votre travail?" What might an appropriate response be?

The question means, "What is your job?" so an appropriate response would be "Je suis professeur," or, "I am a professor." The first option means that you're thirty years old, the third means that you're doing well and the final option means that you are from the United States.


A new acquaintance from Québec asks you, "Quel âge as-tu?" What does this mean?

The phrase technically translates to "Which age do you have?" If you want to pose the question a bit more politely, you'd use "vous," the formal version of the second-person singular subject pronoun, and say "Quel âge avez-vous?" ("Vous" also serves as the second-person plural subject pronoun, i.e. "you all.")


If someone asks you a question about yourself, you might want to ask them "And you?" after answering. How would you say this?

The French word for "and" is "et," pronounced "ey." The form of "you" employed in this context is one of the stress pronouns, which are used after certain prepositions. If you wanted to be more polite about it, or if you were speaking to multiple people, you'd say "Et vous?"


Can you pick the French term from the following that would not typically be used as a greeting?

"Bonne chance" is used when wishing somebody good luck, not as a way to greet them. "Bonjour" (literally, "good day") is the most well-known French way to say hello. "Salut" is a more casual version of the same, and it can also be used to say goodbye. "Bonsoir" translates to "good evening" and can likewise be used as either a greeting or a salutation.


Good manners are important when speaking any language. Can you tell which of the following phrases is not an expression of courtesy?

"Au secours!" is a cry for help. It's not actually rude; it's just not specifically a term of courtesy. "Merci beaucoup" means "thank you very much," and both "il n'ya pas de quoi" and "de rien" are ways to say "you're welcome."


A French-speaking person you're having a conversation with asks, "Est-ce que tu comprends?" What does this mean?

This expression means "Do you understand?" It uses the verb "comprendre," which translates to "to understand or to comprehend." An appropriate response might be "Oui, je comprends bien le français" (Yes, I understand French well) or perhaps "Non, tu parles trop vite" (No, you speak too fast.)


Can you translate the French phrase, "Je voudrais manger quelquechose"?

"Je voudrais" means "I would like," which is more polite than saying "I want" if you're ordering in a restaurant. If you wanted to drink something, you'd use the verb "boire" instead. "Quelquechose" means "something." If you'd like to order a meal, that's "un repas." Breakfast is "le petit déjeuner," lunch is "le déjeuner" and dinner is "le dîner." These are the terms used in France; bear in mind that other French-speaking regions might have different regional nomenclature.


One of the first phrases novice language-learners and travellers should learn is, "Where is the bathroom?" Do you know which of the following is *not* a way to ask this in French?

Les toilettes, les W.C., les cabinets ... These are all names for the rooms with toilets in them in France. (Keep in mind that other French-speaking places have their own colloquialisms.) "La chambre" refers to the bedroom. One common confusion centers around the term "la salle de bains." This directly translates to "the bathroom," but in France, they usually mean that literally. Historically, toilets and bathtubs were found in separate rooms. So if you, say, ask a waiter where the "salle de bains is," they might wonder why you're trying to take a bath in the restaurant.


"Le chèque, s'il vous plaît" is a handy phrase to know when travelling. Do you know what it means?

The word for "check" is similar in both languages. Other French restaurant terms that come in handy include "le menu" (the menu), "fourchette" (fork), "cuillère" (spoon), "couteau" (knife), "le carte des vins" (the wine list) and "dessert" (dessert).


You're out shopping for a new outfit. How do you tell the store clerk that you need to buy a new shirt and a pair of shoes?

To express that you need to buy something in French, you say "J'ai besoin de acheter ..." or when translated literally, "I have need of to buy ..." The word "neçois," although it looks awfully French, doesn't exist. Neither do "compre" or "zapates," although they look like French-ified equivalents of the Spanish words for "to buy" and "shoes." The word "chemise" is feminine, so we use the feminine "nouvelle" to describe it as new, rather than the masculine "nouveaux."


You're visiting family in Haiti and need to buy a round trip bus ticket. You don't know any Haitian Creole, but the French of France is the country's other official language, so you can definitely use it to get your point across. You walk up to the counter and say:

"Un billet" is, in fact, a ticket in French, but the term is usually used for pricier things such as a concert. "Un ticket" is more commonly used for things like bus tickets. "Billet" would be comprehensible probably too, but each of those options has additional errors. The term for "roundtrip," for instance, doesn't exist; it's "d'aller-retour" ("go and return"). "Un char" is a car, but that's in French Canada.


What does is mean if someone asks, "Préférez-vous la ville ou la plage?"

Two very different vibes. Here are some other places you might want to take a trip to: the desert (le desért), the mountains (les montagnes), the countryside (la campagne) and the coast (la côte). You might stay at a hotel (un hôtel), a campround (un terrain de camping) or the house of a friend (la maison d'un ami).


You say to your professor, "J'ai appris à parler français quand j'étais jeune." What does this mean?

The phrase "J'ai appris à parler ..." means "I learned to speak ..." This form of past tense, the past perfect, is used to describe discrete events in the past with distinct starting and ending points. The phrase "Quand j'étais jeune ..." ("When I was young ..."), on the other hand, is the past imperfect. This is used for ongoing actions in the past that have nebulous starts and endings, if any at all.


Do you know the meaning of the phrase, "Elle est blessée"?

"Elle" means "she." (And "il" means "he.") Despite the fact that it looks like the English word "blessed," "blessée" is the feminine form of the adjective "injured." ("Blessé" is the masculine form.) The word for "sick" is "malade" (for both males and females) and French for "the hospital" is "l'hôpital."


Can you tell which of the following terms is not generally used upon bidding someone farewell?

"Je vais bien" translates word for word to "I go well," which is how you say you're doing a-OK when someone asks how you are. The other three options are all things you might say just before parting ways. "Au revoir" is the standard French equivalent for "goodbye" (although "ciao" is very common as well, especially in casual conversation.) "Bonne nuit" means "goodnight," and "à bientôt" means "see you soon."


Can you determine the phrase from below that would be most appropriate to say upon being introduced to a French person?

"Enchanté/enchantée" (masculine/feminine respectively) means "Enchanted" or "Nice to meet you." The first answer option, "Mucho gusto," means approximately the same thing, but in Spanish. "À la prochaine fois" means "until the next time," and "ni l'un ni l'autre" means "neither one nor the other."


How would you tell a French person that you're 15 years old?

In French, the verb "avoir" (to have) is used to express age. Thus, the expression "J'ai quinze ans" (or, "I have 15 years") is correct. "Je tiens" means "I hold" and "je vois" means "I see," neither of which are particulary useful when telling somebody your age.


Do know how you'd say, "We drink coffee every morning" in French?

The verb "boire" means "to drink." Conjugated for the first-person plural, it becomes "buvons." The word for "we" (nous) can be used as in the above example, although with the conjugated verb it's not necessary. The other subject pronouns used in the answer choices (ouin, noù and ouette) are all nonsense words. That being said, the subject pronoun "on" can be used as a substitute for "nous" in many cases. Therefore, the phrase "On boit du café tous les matins" would be correct as well.


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