So you wish to speak French, why not, it's a popular language and a great gateway to Europe; but why does it all sound so contrived when you try to speak it and how can you make it 100% genuine oh la la?

The problem we all have when trying to learn our second language is that we tend to give it a good old verbatim translation and end up with more of a cross between English and French. In this way we run the risk of endless Anglicisms and inauthentic, contrived French which is bound to impress nobody. So how can you spice up your French and pepper it with some home grown authentic phrases? Well if you're more le qu'en dira– t-on, than full of je m'en foutisme then this is your guide to idiomatic French with some interesting expressions to spice up your language.

To have money in French is rarely translated as J'ai de l'argent. Instead, use some more colloquial expressions such as avoir de la maille or avoir du blé. In this way you will sound more authentic and the French really do appreciate somebody who takes the time to understand how they really speak to each other. In the event where you have squandered this money on fine Bordeaux wine then you would say J'ai la gueule de bois – to have a wooden face literally whereas we would say a hangover.

When engaging in a more advanced conversation, you may wish to discredit another person's point as being ridiculous. On this occasion we would normally say that pigs might fly; citing this old chestnut to a French person will really have them baffled and you will appear a little silly to say the least. Opt for a literal translation of when the hens will have some teeth – quand les poules auront des dents. Managing to remember this one will really make you far more endearing and able to converse with a French native far more comfortably.

In a more modern context, a few points to keep up with: the English expression laughing out loud is sometimes used in French as LOL as this meaning is generally understood. However, to demonstrate a greater understanding, try MDR instead which literally means that you have died from laughter. PTDR is another good substitute and stands for bursting with laughter (Peté(e) de rire).

Using authentic French expressions such as the ones listed above is a great way to make your French sound immediately more authentic. These expressions can be found in a comprehensive phrase book or dictionary and there are many lists of them on the internet. Remembering one or two per day is a great way to spice up your language and make yourself appear more authentic. Also make sure when speaking to French people to employ a very respectable tone of voice; so many tourists go wrong here and can very easily seem disrespectful, not a problem you will experience with your new found wealth of expressions.

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