Welcome! Today, we’re going to let you in on a few “secrets” about how to speak like a native French speaker! The French that we learn in the classroom and read in books is very different from most spoken French. Even if you are an expert in French vocabulary, if you don’t want to talk like a grammar textbook, keep reading for our advice on how to sound more French.
Declarative sentences are very simple: subject – verb – object. What does that mean? Have a look:
Je vais au cinéma (I go to the movies)
- “je” is the subject, the one performing the action
- “aller” is the verb/action
- “au cinéma” is the object, which specifies the action.
And it’s almost always in that order! In the beginning, just stick with this order to sound like a native speaker. Don’t translate complex sentences from your native language word for word – it just won’t work.
You’ve probably learned to say “ne pas / ne plus / ne jamais” in French. Forget these constructions when you’re speaking! In spoken French, you’ll hardly ever hear the “ne.” I’ll show you a few examples so you can see what I mean:
In a written context, these sentences are correct:
- Je ne veux plus aller à la piscine (I don’t want to go to the pool anymore)
- Tu n’achèteras jamais ça (You’ll never buy that)
- Il n’est pas venu (He did not come)
Yet in spoken French, this is what you’ll hear:
- Je veux plus aller à la piscine
- Tu achèteras jamais ça
- Il est pas venu
It’s easier, isn’t it? Just add the negating word after the verb: pas, jamais, rien, personne, etc. And forget about the “ne”!
It’s a comprehensive 8-module course designed to help you improve every aspect of your spoken French – fluency, confidence, pronunciation, and more – step by step, and enjoy doing it.
Next up, there are several different ways to construct a question in French. My advice? Always pick the simplest formula.
Let’s have a look at the expression “Est-ce que…?” with a few examples:
- Est-ce que tu viens avec nous ? (Are you coming with us?)
- Est-ce que vous jouez de la musique ? (Do you play music?)
- Est-ce que qu’on peut louer une voiture ? (Can we rent a car?)
If you’ve read carefully, you’ll notice that everything that follows after “est-ce que” is in the declarative. It follows the same “subject + verb + object” formula that we discussed up above. Just stick “est-ce que” in front of your main idea, and there you have it! Your sentence becomes a question!
Although that’s not terribly complicated, we can simplify it even further! You can also say:
- Tu viens avec nous ? (Are you coming with us?)
- Vous jouez de la musique ? (Do you play music?)
- On peut louer une voiture ? (Can we rent a car?)
In these examples, the interrogative sentence has the exact same structure as the declarative sentence. The only thing that has to change is the speaker’s intonation.
Our instructor Lucie has made a video where you can listen to the pronunciation of each of these sentences. Scroll down to the end of this article to watch it.
Now let’s have a look at how to ask for information using questions words like que/quoi, où, quand, and comment.
- Vous faites quoi demain matin ? (What are you doing tomorrow morning?)
- Elle va où ? (Where is she going?)
- Ça s’est passé comment ? (How did it go?)
- Vous sortez quand d’habitude ? (When do you usually go out?)
Where does the question word go? After the verb! It’s very similar to forming a simple question. Just swap out the piece of information you want to know for the correct question word.
For instance, think of this declarative sentence: Elle va à la piscine.
If you want to ask where she goes, switch out “à la piscine” for the question word “où”: Elle va où ?
Pretty easy, right?
And now you know how to sound more French, basically just by using what you already know!
As I mentioned above, our instructor Lucie created a video in which she explains all the contents of this article in detail. You can also hear her native French pronunciation, which will help you sound more French, too! Give it a listen below, or on YouTube:
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Finally, if you enjoyed this article, here are some other articles about how to sound like a French native speaker that might interest you:
- The 10 Most Popular French “Verlan” Words – Secret French Slang [VIDEO]
- 15 Essential French Slang Expressions
- How to Learn French with Netflix
Or, if you prefer to listen instead of read, check out these episodes from our podcast, the MosaLingua Language Lab:
- Listen to Episode #5 – Why You Should “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” When You Learn a New Language on Spreaker.
- Listen to Episode #58 – How to Improve your Speaking Skills in a Foreign Language on Spreaker.