Useful French Phrases To Fix And Avoid Mistakes

Sometimes, you just have to know how to admit that you don’t know what you don’t know.
man looking at his phone after making mistakes in French

Finally decided to tackle French for your new year’s resolution? Congratu;ationss on taking the first step! As you probably already know, it’s not enough to merely visualize yourself effortlessly negotiating the price of a baguette in Bordeaux. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You have to prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for all the mistakes in French you have yet to make.

There’s so much to look forward to, and yes, that includes every error and faux pas you’ll make along the way. Rather than let that hold you back, welcome it as part of the process. And as part of that welcome, you can start by arming yourself with a few phrases to use when you make mistakes in French so you don’t get stuck.

To help you out, we put together a guide to some words or phrases that might be helpful whenever you need to correct yourself or ask someone for more clarification. If you didn’t understand someone, ask, ask again (for them to repeat themselves). This is a natural part of communication for native speakers and new learners alike.

Ready to make mistakes in French? You can start learning today with Babbel, and you’ll be speaking confidently in no time.

How To Fix And Avoid Mistakes In French

Apologies In French

It never hurts to know how to make a quick apology, whether you’ve misspoken or you’ve bumped into someone on the train. Although the French are hardly prone to over-apologizing, there are appropriate words you can use to keep your “sorries” and “excuse me”s short, sweet and to the point. We also have a more thorough guide to saying sorry in French if you’re in need of deeper apologies.

  • Je suis désolé. (m) / Je suis désolée. (f) — I’m sorry. (formal)
  • Désolé. (m) / Désolée. (f) — Sorry. (informal)
  • Pardon. — Excuse me/Sorry.
  • Excusez-moi. — Excuse me.
  • Toutes mes excuses. — All of my apologies. (playful)
  • C’est ma faute. — That’s my bad/mistake. (slang)

Interjections In French

Not every mistake calls for an apology. It’s natural to want to say something like “oops” or “ah,” but those sounds aren’t universally the same in every language. Here are a few interjections commonly used in French.

  • Oups ! — Oops!
  • Aïe ! — Oh dear!
  • Ah, non… — Ah, no…
  • Mince ! — Oh no/darn/shoot!

How To Say I Don’t Know In French

Sometimes, you just don’t know. And that’s okay. Here are a few ways to communicate this.

  • Je ne sais pas. — I don’t know.
  • Je sais pas. — I dunno. (slang)
  • Je ne comprends pas. — I don’t understand.
  • Pardon, je n’ai pas compris. — Excuse me, I did not understand that.
  • J’ai aucune idée. — I have no idea.

Asking For Clarification In French

Another way to avoid mistakes in French is to make sure you understood what the other person is saying. Here are a few ways to ask someone to repeat what they said.

  • Qu’est-ce que tu as dit, Tom ? — What did you say, Tom?
  • Vous pouvez répéter, s’il vous plaît ? — Could you please repeat that?
  • Pardon ? — Pardon?
  • Tu peux parler un peu plus lentement ? — Could you speak a bit more slowly?
  • Tu peux parler un peu plus fort ? — Could you speak a bit louder?
  • C’est trop bruyant, je n’ai rien compris. — It’s too loud, I didn’t understand anything.
  • Je n’ai pas capté. — I didn’t catch that. (slang)
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