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DATING

11 of the best phrases to flirt in French

Is France’s romantic vibe making you want to learn more about flirting? A good way to start is to get familiar with the key phrases to use when it comes to this ancient art. Here’s a round-up of the basics. 

French couple kissing at the Metro
Need help with the language of love? Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

As flirting generally takes place in an informal situation, the following phrases are mostly quite colloquial, and we’ve used them all with the familiar tu form of you.

If you’re in a situation where the formal vous is required, then we would suggest that flirting is probably not appropriate (unless you’re into role play of course, but that’s a whole other article).

Draguer – to flirt. If you fancy trying your hand at the French dating scene, draguer is the perfect word, it means flirting with or hitting on someone.

You can decide to be upfront about it and say it directly to the person you fancy. Oui je te drague – Yes, I’m hitting on you.

But you can also use it to gossip: Ce mec drague toutes les nanas au bureau ! – This guy flirts with all the girls at the office! 

Find out more about that phrase here

Chiner – to hit on. The younger generation use it all the time when it comes to chatting someone up or hitting on them. Tu le chines? – Are you hitting on him?

But be careful, this word is also commonly used when you go bargain hunting for old furniture or second-hand goods at a Brocante  (a vintage or second hand market) so don’t assume that everyone at the market is flirting with you.

Find out more about that phrase here

Faire la cour – to woo. This is a pretty dated phrase but you may still hear it, and not only if you’re watching a historical movie.

Il lui fait la cour depuis des mois – He’s been wooing her for months. 

Aborder – to approach. This can be used in several contexts to mean an approach or to broach a subject, but in a romantic sense it means making your first approach to the object of your affections.

You can use this word when it comes to talking to someone for the first time, whether it is online or in real life.

Je n’ose pas l’aborder – I’m afraid of approaching her. 

Le ou la faire craquer – to fall for someone. Craquer means to ‘give in’ so you’ll use this idiomatic phrase when you’ve managed to seduce someone or when you have been seduced.

Elle me fait trop craquer – I’ve really fallen for her.

Voici mes conseils pour le faire craquer –  Here’s my advice to snag him.  

En pincer pour to like. Pincer means ‘to pinch’ but this idiomatic phrase is used when you are really fond of someone.

J’en pince pour toi – I really like you. 

Décrocher un premier rendez-vous – To get a first date. It’s not always easy but when it happens you may want to share the news.

J’ai enfin décrocher un premier rendez-vous avec elle ! – I finally got a first date with her!

Se le ou se la taper – to have sex with someone. Taper means to ‘hit’. But the phrase se le ou se la taper is an informal way to gossip about sexual relationships. It’s a more slangy and slightly ruder alternative to the classic coucher – to sleep with someone.

Tu crois qu’il se l’est tapée ? – Do you think he had sex with her? Si seulement je pouvais me le taper ! If only I could take him to bed!

Pécho – making out. Pécho is verlan (reversing the order of syllables in a word) of choper which means ‘to grab’ or ‘catch’. This phrase can mean different things (find out more here), and one of them is ‘making out’ or ‘hooking up’.

On s’est pécho – We made out.

Smacker – to kiss (without the tongue). Although ‘to smack’ actually means slapping someone in English, in French it can be used to describe ‘un smack’, a kiss where only the lips touched (as opposed to the French kiss) and the verb ‘smacker’ derives from it. Il m’a smacké ! – He kissed me!

Séduire – to seduce. The ultimate goal is to seduce someone when you’re flirting. Séduire is now slightly old-fashioned and it’s often used in a more metaphorical sense such as consumers or voters being ‘seduced’ by a brand or a politician, but you can also use it in a romantic situation.

Elle cherche à me séduire – She’s trying to seduce me. 

Here are some key phrases to ask someone out: 

Prendre un verre – To have a drink. 

Ça te dit d’aller prendre un verre ? – Would you fancy having a drink?

Boire un coup – Grab a drink (informal) 

Tu veux qu’on aille boire un coup ? – Do you want to go get a drink? 

Tu veux boire quoi ? – What do want to drink?

Manger un bout – grabbing something to eat. Here’s an informal way to ask somebody to have dinner with you. On va manger un bout ? – Let’s go eat something?

Here are some phrases to ask for someone’s number:

Je peux prendre ton 06 ? – In France, cell phone numbers start with 06, so it’s an informal way to ask someone his or her number.  

C’est quoi ton numéro ? – What’s your number?

Je peux avoir ton numéro de portable ? – Can I get your cell phone number?

If you feel like tackling online dating in France, check out our guide

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LEARNING FRENCH

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in French

It's a very common experience to have to give out your phone number or email address in France, or take down the address of a website, and there is some specialist vocabulary that you will need.

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in French

The correct names for punctuation marks used to be fairly low down on any French-learner’s list, but these days they are vital whenever you need to explain an email address, website or social media account.

Likewise if you want to talk about websites, or social media posts, there are some things that you need to know. 

Punctuation

Obviously punctuation points have their own names in France, and making sure you get the periods, dashes and underscores correct is vital to giving out account details. 

Full stop/period . point. Pronounced pwan, this is most commonly heard for French websites or email addresses which end in .fr (pronounced pwan eff eyre).

If you have a site that ends in .com you say ‘com’ as a word just as you would in English – pwan com – and if the website is a government site such as the tax office it will end with .gouv.fr (pwan goov pwan eff eyre).

At symbol @ Arobase – so for example the email address [email protected] would be jean pwan dupont arobas hotmail pwan eff eyre 

Ampersand/and symbol & esperluette

Dash – tiret

Underscore _ tiret bas 

Forward slash / barre oblique

Upper case/capital lettersMajuscule (or lettre majuscule)

Lower caseminiscule

The following punctuation points are less common in email or web addresses, but worth knowing anyway;

Comma , virgule. In France a decimal point is indicated with a comma so two and a half would be 2,5 (deux virgule cinq)

Exclamation mark ! point d’exclamation – when you are writing in French you always leave a space between the final letter of the word and the exclamation mark – comme ça !

Question mark ? point d’interrogation – likewise, leave a space between the final character and a question mark 

Brackets/parentheses ( ) parenthèse

Quotation marks « » guillemets 

Numbers

If you need to give your phone number out, the key thing to know is that French people pair the numbers in a phone number when speaking.

So say your number is 06 12 34 56 78, in French you would say zero six, douze, trente-quatre, cinqante-six, soixante-dix- huit (zero six, twelve, thirty four, fifty six, seventy eight, rather than one, two, three, four etc)

Mobile numbers in France all begin with 06 and ‘zero six‘ is a slangy way of talking about your phone number.

Donne-moi ton zero six pour qu’on puisse se capter parfois. – Give me your number so that we can hang out sometime.

Social media

If you want to give out your Twitter or Instagram handle, the chances are you might need to know some punctuation terms as described above.

Otherwise the good news is that a lot of English-language social media terms are used in France too.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have the same names in France and have entered the language in other ways too, for example you might describe your dinner as très instagrammable – ie it’s photogenic and would look good on Instagram.

On Twitter you can suivre (follow), aime (like) or retweet (take a wild guess). You’ll often hear the English words for these terms too, though pronounced with a French accent.

There is a French translation for hashtag – it’s dièse mot, but in reality hashtag is also very widely used.

Tech is one of those areas where new concepts come along so quickly that the English terms often get embedded into everyday use before the Academie française can think up a French alternative.

There’s also the phenomenon of English terms being mildly ‘Frenchified’ such as having a slightly different pronunciation or being adapted to sound more French, such as the below UberEats advert, which uses the words ‘swiper, matcher, dater’ – not really correct French but clearly instantly understandable to the young demographic that the advert is aimed at. 

Photo: The Local

READ ALSO Why do French adverts love to use English words?

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