Basic French phrases

Making an effort to speak the language of locals is always welcomed. If you also happen not to meet anyone who speaks English, then one or two of the phrases below could help you along. In French, pronunciation is important and may not sound at all like the written form of the phrase. These basic phrases come with phonetic sounds in (brackets) to help you begin.

Hello – Bonjour (bawn-jur)

Goodbye – Au revoir (or rev-vua)

Please – S’il vous plait (si vu play)

Excuse me – Pardon (par-dawn)

Thank you – Merci (mear-si)

Do you speak English? – Vous parlez anglais? (vu par-lay awn-glay)

Do you have a table? – Vous avez une table? (vu-zavay oon tar-blur)

What is this? – Qu’est que c’est? (kes cur say)

I’ll have… - Je prends… (jer prawn…)

Dish of the day – Le plat du jour (ler plar doo jur)

Bill please – L’addition s’il vous plait (la di-si-awn si vu play)

How much is this? – C’est combien? (say com-bi-awn)

Where are the toilets? – Où sont les toilettes? (oo sawn lay twa-let)

Where is…? - … c’est où? (… say oo?)

Useful Words

There are some common words that are helpful to remember. This brief lexicon will help you in finding your way around the city with maps and guidebooks.
French Dutch Description in English Example
Rue Straat Street Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat
Chaussée Steenweg Main street Chaussée d’Ixelles / Elsenesteenweg
Place Plein Square or large intersection Place Louise / Louizaplein
Avenue Laan Avenue Avenue des Arts / Kunstlaan
Galerie Galerijen Arcade (for shopping) Galerie St. Hubert / St-Hubertus Galerijen
Parc Park Park Parc du Bruxelles / Park van Brussel
Gare Station Station Gare du Midi / Zuidstation
Musée Museum Museum
Gratuit Gratis Free of charge
Billet Ticket Ticket
Bio Bio Organic

Since English is Germanic (root language for Dutch) and uses a lot of Latin (root language for French), it is possible to figure out most of what the signs mean. If all else fails, ask someone on the street, most people will attempt to speak English or point you in the right direction.