Stay away from slang and idioms

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. Yes, I know, you spent hours studying them. They are so much fun. And schools love to teach them since it makes for an easy, lively, fun class. The thing is, though, if the right idiom is used in the right sentence, it sounds and feels good, but as with all good things, too many idioms will make you look like you’re trying to hard to impress your audience. And Parisians don’t like this — it comes off as arrogant to them. The same caution applies to slang in general. Yes, Parisians do use a lot of slang: „merde” is common, so is „con,” „putain” and other less-than-charming words. But what sounds perfectly normal from the lips of a Parisian , sounds contrived coming from a foreigner. Furthermore, slang is used in a certain context; if you use it with the wrong people, or in the wrong situation, it will be a big faux pas.


There is no way around the importance of social classes in Paris. And at the risk of sounding snobby I’m going to tell you that, well, a lot of Parisians are snobby. The way you express yourself will tend to categorize you as belonging to one class or another. For example, many students have learned to say „De rien.” („It’s nothing.” ) as an answer to „merci.” De rien is indeed very used in Paris, but more so in the working class environment. Parisians who fancy themselves as upper classe would favor „Je vous en prie.” (pronounced shvoo zan pree), and „Je t’en prie.”


(shtan pree). Common mistakes among the French themselves include „la copine à ma soeur,” which should be „la copine de ma soeur.” If you speak Parisian like that, it will fly in a café, but not at the Ritz. So, get a feel for your surroundings, and talk freely in a relaxed setting, but watch the vocabulary you use in a more formal setting, and of course, use „vous.” I invite you to read more on this topic with audio tracks on my site.