Imagine the discomfort of being stuck in a conversation with absolutely nothing to say. Now imagine how much worse it would be if that conversation were in a foreign language. Pretty bad, right? If you find yourself trying to communicate with someone in French, don’t let uncomfortable silences stretch out long enough for an onlooker to sing the French equivalent of “awkward” in a high pitch and make things worse. Instead, try using one of these conversation starters to get the dialogue moving in the right direction.


conversation starters


1.       Que faites vous dans la vie? What do you do for a living? 


2.       Quelle est la meilleure chose qui vous soit arrive cette semaine? What is the best thing that happened to you during the past week? 


3.       Où êtes-vous partis pour la derniere fois en vacances? Where did you last go on holiday?


4.       Avez-vous des freres et soeurs? Do you have any brothers or sisters?


5.       Quel est votre film prefere? What is your favorite film?


6.       Quel est le dernier livre que vous ayez lu? What was the last book you read? 


7.       Quel a ete le moment le plus embarrassant pour vous? What is your most embarrassing moment? 


These should be enough to get the discussion started, but what should you say when it comes back to your turn to speak? Hopefully you already know a little French to begin with, but if you just need a refresher on follow up questions, here are a few key words:

 conversation starters3

Qui? Who?

Qu’est-ce que? What?

Où? Where?

Quand? When?

•Pourquoi? Why?

Comment? How?

Combien? How much?

Quel/Quelle? (m. and f.) Which?


If the conversation is going too quickly for you to understand, or the subject matter takes a complicated turn, there are a few phrases that will serve any conversationalist—and tourist—well. Just be sure to say them with a smile on your face and keep your inflection light; you don’t want to offend your new friend, do you?

conversation starters4 

Je suis désolé/désolée.  I am sorry.

Pardon/Excusez-moi. Excuse me.

Je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.

Je ne sais pas. I don’t know.


You don’t have to be witty or flirty—though both of those would greatly help—all you have to do is be sincere and the people around you will respond accordingly. It wouldn’t hurt to learn a bit of French either. If you’re building your language skills from the ground up, feel free to Contact Us for information on French language classes available to you.