Un Passant Un Peu Bizarre (a weird passerby)

Apprendre le français parlé, français informel. Conversation en français

Synopsis: Pierre needs to get to the supermarket but doesn't know the way. In the street, he asks a man for directions. The man doesn't give him much information. Jason asks several questions as he tries to understand how to get there. The man, however, is not very helpful ...

FR : Pierre veut aller au supermarché mais il ne connait pas bien le chemin. Dans la rue, il demande à un passant.  L'homme ne lui donne pas beaucoup d'informations. Pierre tente de comprendre par où il doit passer.  Mais le passant ne lui est pas d'une grande aide ...

Conversational French phrases in this lesson

  • Pardon monsieur (madame)
  • C'est le chemin
  • C'est pas grave
  • Il faut passer par ...
  • D'accord
  • Il faut combien de temps pour ...
  • Dans les 20 minutes
  • Ça ferme à quelle heure ?
  • Ce que veut dire ...
  • Je vois ...
  • Merci quand même
  • Quelqu'un d'autre
  • Bonne journée
  • N'est-ce-pas ?

Spoken French Lesson Notes (ENG)

Pardon monsieur (madame)

This is a classic French phrase, a conventional polite form for addressing someone you don't know :

"Pardon madame, pouvez-vous me dire …"  (excuse me madam, can you tell me …)

You should also use this phrase when talking to an older person.

S'il vous plait

A more formal version of "s'il te plait" (please), here again used when talking to a person we don't know or who is older.

"S'il vous plait" can have a meaning of "please" or "excuse me", and can often be used in place of "pardon" :

"S'il vous plait, j'ai réservé une chambre au nom de …"  (excuse me, I made a reservation in the name of  …)

"S'il vous plait, pouvez-vous me dire …"   (excuse me, can you tell me…).

"Vous avez l'heure s'il vous plait ?"  (do you have the time please ?)

C'est bien le chemin de … ?

You use this phrase to check you are in the right direction.

"C'est bien le chemin de l'hôtel de la Plage ?"  (is this the way to the Hôtel de la Plage ?).  I.e. "am I in the right direction ?"

Tant mieux !

This colloquial French expression is used to express satisfaction or relief.  For example :

" Il a eu un accident mais n'a pas été blessé." (He had an accident.  But he wasn't hurt !")

"Ah tant mieux !"  (ah that's a relief !)

Sometimes, you add the word "ouf !" after "tant mieux", an interjection that means "that's a relief !" in colloquial French.

Here's another example :

"le prix est moins élevé que je ne pensais". (the price was not as high as I thought)

"Tant mieux ! on va pouvoir acheter d'autres choses".  (great ! we can buy other things)

In this case, "tant mieux" means "great", "it's good news".

Click here ror more examples of the uses of "tant mieux".

C'est loin d'ici ?

You use this colloquial French phrase to ask if the distance between the place you are at and some destination is significant.  For example, you are in Paris and ask someone :

"Marseille, c'est loin d'ici ?"  (is Marseille far from here ?)

"Pardon, le métro Boulogne c'est loin d'ici ?"

C'est pas grave

This colloquial phrase is very frequently used by French speakers, the correct form is "ce n'est pas grave" but it's almost always contracted down to "c'est pas grave" in everyday spoken French.

"C'est pas grave" basically means "no big deal" and is used in various situations :

"Ah pardon excusez-moi"  -> "c'est pas grave"  (no big deal, response to an apology)

"Le train va avoir du retard" -> "c'est pas grave"  (no big deal, it's OK for me)

"Tu t'es fait mal ?" -> "non non, c'est pas grave"  (did you hurt yourself ? no, no big deal)

"Il n'y a plus de place ici"  -> "c'est pas grave, on se met ailleurs"  (there's no space left on the terrace -> I don't mind sitting elsewhere)

Il faut passer par …

You use this expression to indicate the way to some place.  It means "you must first go through this (street, alley, whatever)".

You can also use it to show the way to someone who's driving or riding a bike for example.

For example :

"Pour aller voir à Tour Eiffel il faut passer par les Champs Elysées"  (to go to the Eiffel Tower you must go through the Champs Elysées"

Ensuite ce sera à gauche … ?

A colloquial way to ask or explain the next step in an itinerary : "ce sera".  Here, it means "After that, I will need to make left ?"


A very commonly used French phrase to say, "fine", "OK", "agreed".

Il faut combien de temps pour … ?

This is a colloquial version of the phrase "combien de temps faut-il pour…" , meaning "how much time is needed for …", "how much time does it take to …".

You're basically asking someone an estimate of the duration of a task, an activity, a trip… For example :

" il faut combien de temps pour écrire un livre ?"  (how much time is needed to write a book)

"Il faut combien de temps pour apprendre le français ?"   (to learn French)

Another, even more colloquial way, to ask is :

"combien de temps ça prend pour … ?"

Or in more formal French :

"combien de temps cela prend-il pour …?"

Dans les 20 minutes ?

You use "dans les" to indicate an approximation in colloquial French.  For example, you can say :

" Paris- Bordeaux en train, cela prend dans les 3 heures", meaning "approximately 3 hours".

Another example :

"combien de temps faut-il pour préparer un diner ?"  (how long does it take to prepare a dinner)

"Dans les 2 heures."  (about 2 hours)

Ça ferme à quelle heure ?

This is another colloquial French phrase used very frequently to ask what time a place is closing, often a store or a business.  The formal version is :

"à quelle heure le magasin / bureau ferme-t-il ?" (what time does the store / office close)

Or "à quelle heure cela ferme-t-il ?"  (what time does it close)

In everyday life, people more often use "ça ferme à quelle heure ?" or "à quelle heure ça ferme ?"

Vous savez ce que veut dire … ?

Pierre asks the passerby if he knows the meaning of the word "supermarché" :  "ce que veut dire supermarché :

"vous savez ce que veut dire supermarché ?"  (do you know what supermarché means ?)

Other ways to ask the question are :

"Vous savez ce que signifie supermarché ?"

Or : "vous savez ce que 'supermarché' veut dire ?" (inversed word order).

Or again: "Do you understand the meaning of the supermarché ?"

N'est-ce-pas ?

This standard French expression is used to double-check something with the person you're talking to, that is, have him/her confirm something you just said.  Pierre says :

"Vous savez ce que veut dire supermarché, n'est-ce-pas ?" meaning, "you do know what supermarché means, right ?".

In other words,  "just checking", "tell me I'm not mistaken"

"N'est-ce-pas" also have other uses, such as to say "do you agree with me ?" :

"Ce plat est délicieux n'est-ce-pas ?"  (this dish is delicious, wouldn't you agree ?)

Ah OK je vois …

A frequently used phrase in colloquial French, similar to its English counterpart "oh OK I see…).  You use it when you find out something bad or unpleasant, or some kind of scheme for example.

Let's says someone is trying to sell you as an ancient piece of art, but then you notice "made in China" written inside it.   You might say "ah OK je vois…", that is, I get what this is really about, it's not at all what it's made out to be.

Here's another example : a man pretends to be a successful businessman, but then you later find out he works as a salesman in a store.  You might say "ah OK je vois ..." as you realize he's a fluke.

Note that this phrase has another, less ironic usage : you can say it when you finally come to understand something that wasn't clear to you until now.

"Elle est moi, on travaille dans la même société"  (she and I work at the same company)

"Ah OK, je vois !" (Oh OK I get it !)

Merci quand même …

A colloquial French expression that can translate to "thanks anyway", often used when you ask for someone's help or assistance, but the person is not helpful at all, either because he won't make any effort or because their help is not effective.

You still politely thank the person even though he/she doesn't really deserves to be thanked, saying "merci quand même …"

For example, if I ask a friend to help me carry something, but your friend then drops it and the object falls and breaks into pieces, you may say to her "merci quand même…".  You're thanking her politely even though she was not helpful at all.

Quelqu'un d'autre

This means "another person", "someone else".

Useful links

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