Knowing how to introduce yourself, find your way around, and ask basic questions in a new language is crucial for integrating any culture.
However, you may reach a point where these things are not enough – you want to be able to engage in meaningful conversations, and to do so, you must know how to express your opinions, tastes, and preferences.
Here are some important phrases to know when expressing your opinions in French.
“Merci, j’adore!” - “Thank you, I love (it)!” If you want to specify exactly what you love, you can add the object at the end of the sentence, such as, “J’adore ce plat!” (I love this meal).
“Merci, j’aime beaucoup.” - “Thank you, I like (it) a lot.” This is more formal than j’adore, which can be understood as inauthentic or superficial if you are not well acquainted with the person.
“J’aime beaucoup cet endroit.” - “I really like this place.”
“C’est formidable !” - “It is wonderful !” While there is the English “formidable,” in French it is more of a general praise rather than in the English usage.
“C’est incroyable !” - “It is incredible !” In French, ‘incroyable’ can be used both as a positive affirmation, as well as an expression of surprise. This depends on the context in which it is used.
"Je vous en suis très reconnaissante.” - “I am very admirative of you for this.” You would say this to show your gratitude for something someone has done or given you, such as a favor.
"J'apprécie beaucoup cette personne.” - “I greatly appreciate this person.” You can always switch out ‘this person’ with another definite object, such as cet endroit (this place).
“Je suis très heureuse de vous avoir rencontré." - “I am very happy to have met you.” For a less formal phrasing, you can swap the vous with the tu pronoun, which would be: “Je suis très heureuse de t’avoir rencontré”. (Here are some more phrases to compliment someone in French).
“Je n’ai jamais vu quelque chose d’aussi beau de toute ma vie.” - “I have never seen something so beautiful in all my life.” Quelque chose does not have a direct translation. It most closely resembles “this thing,” “a thing of the sort,” or “something.”
“Je trouve cela merveilleux.” - “I find this wonderful.” Cela is relatively formal. For more casual phrasing, you can use ca instead of cela, which is less literary.
“C’est une merveille.” - “This is a beauty.” Merveille has a wondrous connotation to it. It is not just in reference to the beauty of the thing, but also its angelic state.
“C’est absolument magique!” - “It is absolutely magical!” Magique in French is often used as a positive adjective to describe something absolutely wonderful.
“Merci, c’est délicieux !” - “Thank you, it is delicious!” This is the easiest way to tell someone you love the meal they prepared for you. Make sure you perfect this one to have it on hand at all times.
“Ce repas est parfait.” - “This meal is perfect.” Repas means the meal in its entirety, so if you are enjoying a three-course meal, ‘repas’ would be referring to the totality of what you are eating. (Here are some French phrases to use in a restaurant).
Although it is important to know how to show your appreciation for something, it is equally as important to communicate your dislikes. It is also important to note that French people are in general very honest and do not like fake compliments or dishonesty.
Here are some key phrases to know when expressing negative opinions in French.
“Je n’aime pas cela.” - “I do not like this.” You can always replace cela with whatever you are talking about, such as ce livre (this book).
“Ce n’est pas terrible.” - “It is pretty bad.” Ah, yes. The beauty of paradoxical expressions. The literal translation of the phrase would be “It is not terrible,” but when used, it is to express distaste in something.
“C’est absolument répugnant.” - “It is absolutely disgusting.” This is a very explicit expression which I would not recommend using for just any situation. It is also a bit old-fashioned, and is used by older populations.
“C’est dégoutant.” - “It is disgusting.” This is the most polite way you can say that something is, well, gross.
“C’est dégueulasse." - “It is disgusting.” Now, this one is important to know because it is a very common expression used. That said, it is on the vulgar side, and unlike degoutant, is considered to be very impolite. Use with caution.
“Je trouve ça ignoble." - “I find this shameful.” ‘Ignoble’ could also be translated to dishonorable, despicable, or worthless. ‘Ignoble’ has a very moral character to it.
“Je trouve cette situation malaisante.” - “I find this situation to be uneasy.” ‘Malaisant’ could also be translated to “awkward.” It comes from ‘mal a l’aise’, meaning “not at ease.”
“La pièce de théâtre était lamentable.” - “The play was deplorable.” ‘Lamentable’ is a fantastic word to know. It is a very expressive term which provokes a particular sense of shabbiness.
“Je trouve cela très décevant." - “I find it to be very disappointing.” This is good to know in case you see a play or a movie you find, well, disappointing, for example.
“C’est totalement indécent !” - “It is totally indecent!” Although in English the phrasing does not sound very natural, in French this can be said to express the feeling that something is vulgar.
“J’ai trouvé que c'était de mauvais goût." - “I found that it was of bad taste.” This is a common expression used to say that something is vulgar or crass. On the flip side, you can also say “C'était de bon goût,” which has less of a moral critique to it, and is rather a praise of the aesthetic quality of the thing.
“C’est vraiment très moche !” - “It is truly hideous!” ‘Moche’ is not a very pretty word, but it speaks to the meaning. For more polite phrasing, it is better to say, “Ce n’est vraiment pas beau!,” meaning “It is truly not beautiful.”
“C’est véritablement atroce !” - “It is truly awful!” There is not an adjective in English which has the same force and fervor as “atroce.” It is directly translatable to “atrocity.”
“J’ai trouvé que c'était fortement ennuyant.” - “I found that it was very boring.” In French, ‘ennui’ can refer not only to boredom but to discomfort. If you say, “Je suis ennuyé par quelque chose,” this would translate to, “I am bothered by something.
“Il n’est vraiment pas sympa ce type !” - “This guy is really not a nice person!” It is difficult to translate this phrase to English because ‘sympa’ cannot be simply translated to ‘nice,’ it is also just an overall positive quality of something. ‘Type’ can be used colloquially to designate someone.
In certain cases, our personal preferences derive from an emotional response we have to something. Oftentimes, when learning a new language, we feel frustrated by our inability to really communicate how we feel. Here are some good phrases to know to better express yourself.
“Cela me rend triste.” - “This makes me sad.” Easy enough.
“Cela me fâche." - “This makes me angry.” To say that you are in a state of anger, you can say “Je suis faché.”
"Ce film m'a provoqué beaucoup d'émotion." - “This film provoked a lot of emotion in me.” ‘Provoquer’ is a very good, articulate word to incorporate into your vocabulary. It is used more frequently than in English.
“J’ai le sentiment que je ne vais pas aimer.” - “I have the feeling that I will not like (it).” This is also a good phrase to know. ‘J’ai le sentiment…’ is an expressive and literary way to communicate how you feel. The translation of ‘sentiment’ in this case would be a mix between the English use of “sentiment” and “feeling.”
“J’en ai marre !” - “I am sick of it!” This is a common expression used to designate frustration and irritability. It can be used to describe a general state of being or as a response to something specific.
“Je n’aime pas les films qui font peur.” - “I do not like scary movies.” You can also swap ‘qui font peur’ with ‘qui sont effrayant,’ which also means scary or fear-provoking.
“Je trouve ça particulièrement touchant.” - “I find that particularly touching.” Just as with English, ‘touchant’ can mean physical touching or emotional sensibility.
“Je me sens un peu gêné." - “I feel a little bit uncomfortable.” ‘Gêné’ can also be translated to ‘awkward’. It is important to know how to express the feeling of discomfort in any language in case you find yourself in an awkward situation.
Knowing how to express your personal preferences in a language can help you not only get what you specifically want, but it is also a way to communicate your personality. Just as it is important to know how to introduce yourself, it is important to be able to assert what you like and what you dislike.
“Je trouve que c’est très beau.” - “I find that it is very beautiful.” Although the literal translation is “I find,” the expression ‘Je trouve’ is closer to the English expression “I think that….” ‘Je trouve’ is used when expressing opinions on a specific object, such as the beauty of a painting, or the taste of a meal.
“Je pense que ca devrait aller.” - “I think that it should be alright.” Unlike in English, you would rarely use ‘Je pense’ in French when expressing an opinion on the beauty of something, for example. ‘Je pense’ is used in contexts of general reflection rather than a specific opinion.
“Je préfère le noir.” - “I prefer black.” This one is pretty straight forward. You would use this when expressing your preference between two or more different choices or things. (Here are more French phrases to use when shopping).
“Je préférerais manger dans un autre restaurant.” - “I would rather eat at another restaurant.” ‘Prefererais’ is a polite way to say to communicate your preference. It is unimposing and can be used in any situation.
“A mon avis, cela devrait suffir.” - “In my opinion, this should be enough.” ‘A mon avis’ is less direct and imposing than the English ‘In my opinion.’ ‘A mon avis’ could also be translated to “In my perspective…”
“Je n’ai pas d’avis là-dessus." - “I do not have an opinion about that.” Although ‘la-dessus’ literally translates to “on that,” it is figurative. It better translates to the English “about that,” or “regarding this.”
“Je n’aime pas parler de politique.” - “I do not like talking about politics.” This is a good one to know if you do not like politics and want to avoid getting embarked in a long and strenuous political conversation.
Remember, it is crucial to learn to be authentic to yourself whenever you are learning a new language. To do this, you have to learn how to express your opinions and preferences as you would in your native language. Bon courage !
You can use our free web application to record your own French phrases.