Chloë is at the fast-food restaurant, she wants to order a burger. Robert, the boy who works behind the counter, is giving her many options to choose from. Chloë is not really sure what she wants on her burger. But when she finally completes her order, she realizes something is missing …
This section is optional and meant for students with a good French reading level. The notes below help you acquire a more in-depth understanding of the French phrases used in the video. Going through these notes, however, is NOT a requirement for improving your spoken French.
This expression is used a lot in shops and services. It means, “what can I do for you ?”, “what do you need ?”, “What are you looking for ?” Similar, frequently used phrases are “puis-je vous aider ?” or “comment puis-je vous aider ?“
You can also omit the word “faire” and say “que puis-je pour vous ?” For example if you call a store on the phone for information, the person answering the phone may say : “Magasin XYZ, que puis-je pour vous ?”
To ask for something politely, instead of saying “je veux …” we generally use “je voudrais” (conditional tense). It’s a less brutal way of asking. For example, at the market you can say “je voudrais un kilo de pommes de terre”. We’ll often append “s’il te/vous plait” to the end of the sentence that starts with “je voudrais”.
In this spoken French dialogue, the clerk asks the customer “sur place ou à emporter ?”. Here, “Sur place” means for eating here in the restaurant. That’s as opposed to “à emporter” which means for taking away.
“Sur place” can also be used in other contexts. for example we may say “je vais voir sur place” which means “I’m going there to check it out”. Another example is, “on va au cinéma ce soir, on dinera sur place”, meaning we will have dinner at the movie place or close by. So in general, “sur place” is used to mean at the place in question, on site.
This common expression is used to indicate a hesitation when choosing among several options. In this spoken French dialogue, Chloë says “je crois que je vais prendre le pain normal“. That can mean she’s not 100% sure about her selection, as she starts with “je crois que” instead of directly saying “je vais prendre”. The clerk takes note of her selection, but he probably detects her hesitation.
Another example: if someone asks you “tu veux du thé?” you may reply “je crois que je préfère un café“. In this case it means “je préfère un café”, it’s just a polite form of turning down the initial offer by pretending to show some hesitation, as if the first option offered had also been a possible alternative. It softens the impact of turning it down.
Towards the end of the spoken French dialogue, Chloë says “je crois que j’ai oublié mon porte-monnaie“. In this case it’s not about hesitation or a polite way of saying things. Chloë just realized she doesn’t have any money and is trying to say it in a soft way, it’s hard for her to say. So again, “je crois que” serves to soften the bad news…
Here, “avec ?” means “avec votre sandwich ?” It’s just a shorter way of saying it. Example : “je t’apporte un café. Tu veux du sucre avec ?” which means “tu veux du sucre avec ton café ?” You may use “avec” alone right only when you’ve just mentioned the omitted object. In our example, coffee is mentioned in the sentence that precedes the one that ends with “avec ?”.
Later in this spoken French dialogue, Robert asks Chloë “vous prendrez des frites avec ça ?” He could alternatively have said “vous prendrez des frites avec ?”. Two variations of the same thing.
Chloë says “mettez-moi juste un peu de ketchup“. She means “mettez-moi du ketchup dans mon sandwich”.
Note she uses the word “juste” to indicate she only wants ketchup, none of the other options Robert has listed (mustard and barbecue sauce).
“Je ne sais pas …” is also used to express hesitation while making a decision. While Chloë is thinking about her choice she says “euh, je ne sais pas…” In the spoken French dialogue she could have then said “je crois que je vais prendre de la salade …”
This expression means, “je ne veux pas de …” In this spoken French dialogue Chloë says “Mais pas d’oignons s’il vous plait“. That’s short for “je ne veux pas d’oignons dans mon sandwich” or “ne me mettez pas d’oignons s’il vous plait”.
This phrase follows the phrase “donnez-moi une peu de …”, therefore it really means “ne me donnez pas d’oignons”. It’s a kind of shortcut often employed in spoken French.
This phrase means “j’ajoute une portion de frite aux éléments que vous avez commandés précédemment”. It’s often used in restaurants and bars when someone orders something additional.
For example, if you’ve just ordered 2 beers and you add a jambon fromage sandwich to your order, the waiter may confirm the addition by saying out loud “Et un jambon fromage !” He may actually shout it directly to the kitchen staff to get the order rolling.
Robert uses this phrase as a shortcut for saying “vous désirez autre chose ?” A customer’s response to that is typically to either continue ordering, for example “oui, une salade s’il vous plait“, or complete the order saying “non ce sera tout” or “non c’est tout“. This means the customer doesn’t want to order anything else and will now wait for her order.
This expression is very commonly used in stores and restaurants to let the buyer know the total price. In this spoken French dialogue, the fast-food clerk says “ça vous fait 7,20 euros” and expects the customer to hand him the cash. Alternatively he may have said “ça vous fera” or “cela vous fera” 7,20 €.
“Oh la la” is a well-known phrase very often used in spoken French to express exclamation, astonishment, or annoyance. In the dialogue Robert is annoyed because he’s lost a lot of time taking Chloë’s order and will now need to cancel it since she has no money to pay. He expresses his frustration by saying “oh la la …”
Another example of using “oh la la” : you see someone doing something amazing, such as jumping off a high cliff. You may say “oh la la ! what a great performance !” In this case, it’s astonishment and admiration you’re expressing. “Oh la la !” is used often by French speakers in many different situations.
In this spoken French dialogue, another customer is waiting in line for his turn as Chloë is ordering her food. When the other customer hears she forgot her wallet and has no money to pay, he says “Génial … Il ne manquait plus que ça !” Here, “génial” is used in an ironic sense, meaning exactly the opposite like “quelle catastrophe” “quelle enquiquineuse !” “quelle tête en l’air !” “elle m’a fait perdre tout ce temps pour rien !”
He adds “il ne manquait plus que ça!“, a commonly used expression in informal spoken French. Here it means “it was a pain as it was waiting for her to make up her mind, let alone waiting for nothing since she has no money to pay !” The phrase is often used as a response to some annoying news.
For example, suppose I planned a picnic on saturday, but then I see on TV that it will be raining that day. I may say “oh non ! Il ne manquait plus que ça !” to express annoyance, frustration. We also use this phrase when a bad news comes on top of another bad news.
Chloë may have simply said “je suis vraiment désolée“. By saying “Désolée … Vraiment …” her apologies and regrets for having forgotten her wallet have a stronger sounding and more sincere effect. She looks truly sorry and embarassed, as she can see the clerk and the customer are quite upset.