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colloquial words for people - real everyday French

Real everyday French: colloquial words to talk about people

by | 3 Feb 2018 | French Language


You don’t need to have been learning French for a long time to know the main words to talk about people. You’ve probably learnt the words to say man (homme) or boy (garçon), woman (femme) or girl (fille), friend (ami, amie), brother (frère), sister (sœur), parents (parents) and father (père).


Yet, have you learnt the colloquial words that most French people use to talk about these people in everyday conversations?

It is important to know that a friend is un ami, a brother un frère and so on, but in colloquial French, these words are not always used.

Very often, the words you will actually hear the French use in a conversation are different. That’s why it is also important to learn them.


So let’s give it a go and learn some very useful, common words that you will hear every day in France:


  • Un mec, un type, un gars: you can use either of these three words to talk about a man or a boy. It’s the equivalent to a guy or a bloke
  • Une nana, une meuf: these two words are used to talk about a woman or a girl. Une meuf is more used among the youth, but you will hear nana used by people of all ages. 
  • Un / une pote, un copain, une copine: use these words to talk about a friend. Pote can be used for both boys or girls, it’s the equivalent to pal, mate or buddy. Pote is really colloquial while copain (for a male friend) and copine (for a female friend) are very common words, informal too, but maybe a couple of notches less colloquial than pote. 
  • Un frangin, une frangine: your frangin is your brother while your frangine is your sister. Of course, you’ve learnt frère and sœur, but you can be sure to hear frangin and frangine in an everyday conversation when a French person is talking about their siblings.
  • Mes vieux : that may not show much deference and yet it does not mean you lack consideration for them, but if you hear someone say mes vieux, then they are talking about their parents. It’s the equivalent to my folks. Careful though! If you hear vieux used with mon rather than mes, then it will mean my father.
  • Mon paternel: This word is probably less common than mon vieux, but it can also be used to talk about a father.
    It is worth noting at this point that there doesn’t seem to be any equivalent to mon vieux or mon paternel to talk about a mother!


Knowing these everyday words will mean you can understand a conversation like this:

– Ce soir, je dîne au restaurant avec des potes et ma frangine. Tu veux venir ?

– Et ton frangin, il vient pas ?

– Non, il va fêter l’anniversaire d’un copain, c’est un mec qu’il a rencontré l’été dernier.

– Et la nana qui était chez toi l’autre jour, elle vient ?

– Ma cousine ? Non, elle reste chez ses vieux. Son paternel veut qu’elle révise ses examens.


There you are, you now know the colloquial words you need in French to talk about people. Congratulations! 🙂


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