Quick French lesson: Words you can shorten to sound cool

Written by Diane on. Posted in French language, on life in France

french words shortened

Let’s talk language shortcuts. Sometimes you just don’t have time to get the whole word out. In English, depending on where you’re from, present becomes pressie, afternoon becomes arvo and breakfast becomes brekkie — and that’s the tip of the iceberg. What about in French? There are similar shortcuts. Next time you’re having a conversation with someone in French and one of these words below comes up, use the shortened form. It’s more natural, common and ultimately more cool.

GO!

French words you can shorten to sound cool

If you aren’t sure about whether or not you can shorten a word, it’s best to go with the full version if there’s any doubt. Most words you do NOT shorten and sometimes it can even get you in trouble. Like if you want to say something is perfect, you say it’s nickel — pronounced more or less knee-kellYou can’t just say “nick (neek)” because it sounds like nique which is not suited for polite conversation. So stick with the ones on my list below.

My best tips to make your French sound more natural >>

My list of French words you can shorten to sound cool:

Impeccable becomes impec: I hear this one all the time! It’s totally normally when someone asks you how you’re doing to reply with impeccable (or just impec).

Musculation becomes muscu: Very popular in the gym to hear je fais ma muscu

Cinéma becomes ciné: Seeing a movie? We’re going to the ciné.

Restaurant becomes resto: Super common to shorten this one.

Après-midi becomes aprèm: You’ll hear this one a lot too. And remember après-midi is feminine and masculine so une and un both work.

Petit déjeuner becomes petit déj: Yum yum!

Personellement becomes perso: Another good one to know.

Ordinateur becomes ordi: I feel like teens and kids use this shortened form of computer the most.

Colocataire becomes coloc: Chop that extra syllable when you’re talking about a roommate.

Véterinaire becomes véto: Common but for some reason I always say the entire word.

Dégueulasse becomes dégueu: Heard a kid say this on Top Chef a few weeks back.

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And there are so many more French words you can shorten.

What French words do you have to add?

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Comments (21)

  • Taste of France

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    McDonald’s is MacDo
    Decaffeine is deca (sorry, I don’t know how to get accents on my tablet)
    Ecologist (environmentalist) is ecolo
    Kinesietherapeute (physical therapist) is kine
    A plus tard (see you later) is a plus, often written A+
    Peripherique (ring road) is periph
    Bon appetit is bon ap
    Taste of France recently posted…Garden GurusMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thanks for the additions! Excellent!

      Reply

    • Diane

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      Thank you, if you think of any, come on back!

      Reply

  • fiona

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    This is a really useful post Diane, I can only think of sympa at the moment although I know there are loads of others. Going to google Nique now!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Marie

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    Anniversaire = anniv

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thank you for the addition!

      Reply

  • Marie

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    après-midi = après-m’

    Reply

  • Zorg

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    “nique which is not suited for polite conversation.”
    Yes, indeed. 😀
    But it depends of what kind of conversation. “Niquer”, “Niqué” can also means “fucked up”, or broken, out of order

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Oh ok, thank you for sharing that!

      Reply

  • Ze Coach

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    Even shorter than “petit déj”, “p’tit déj”, without the “e” in “petit”. Nice post

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Oh yes, that’s a good one as well!

      Reply

  • CarolybB

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    Fun post! I think ‘comme d’hab’ for ‘comme d’habitude’ is also one 🙂

    Cheers and merci.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Oh yes, another great one. Thank you!

      Reply

  • Blooming in Bordeaux

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    Great post Diane! I always love hearing/learning ways to shorten vocabulary words to sound more native. Ones I commonly used are “appart,” “d’acc,” and “comme d’hab.”
    Blooming in Bordeaux recently posted…French Love LessonsMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Oh yes, those 3 are great! Sometimes I feel like an imposter when I shorten words so I just say the longer versions. Like have I graduated to this level where I can say stuff like “Perso, je pense que…” or “Je fais de la muscu…” No one has looked at me sideways yet or laughed so I guess it takes time to feel comfortable using the shortened words. Some are fine but with others I hesitate sometimes!

      Reply

  • Tina

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    Apart from all the nouns and that, I was really confused during my first stays in France about how the French tend to shorten/not really articulate basic verbs. Like, for English, it’s known (and obviously also taught at school) that “I am” becomes “I’m” usually (along with all the other short forms). But for French, it was a bit new for me to hear “je suis” pronounced like something close to “j’ui” and “je ne sais pas” as something that sounded like “j’ai pas”, but still meant “don’t know” and not “don’t have”. Hope you know what I mean haha, it’s a bit complicated to write down what you heard in pronunciation!
    Otherwise I also thought of “bon ap” and “A+”, my best friend also always uses “d’acc”, “les actus”, “un apéro”, and of course the very common one “la fac”. 🙂
    Tina recently posted…Citizens of the WorldMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Yes, so I think what you mean are the natural contractions that come out in speech, like the equivalent of “gonna” for “going to”. Except in French they’re always written the correct way w/the two words. So je suis is kind of like schwee and je ne sais pas is shay pas. Those are really common. Thank you for pointing them out! Oh yes and bon ap. Thank you for the adds!

      Reply

  • Gwyneth Perrier

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    This was a really fun read – I learned new things! I hear “à plus” (see you) meaning “à plus tard” (see you later ) a lot!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Yay! And sometimes in emails you’ll see A + and the end, for short. Not from your boss but casually among friends. 😉

      Reply

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