As you learn French and begin using longer sentences to express your ideas, you need to know the connectors in French that allow everything to flow together.
Connectors will turn disjointed phrases into joined up sentences, making your French sound more smooth, natural and fluent.
Let’s have a look at an example in English first:
Yesterday, I went for a walk in the park. I arrived at the park. It started raining. I didn’t have an umbrella. I was starting to feel hungry. I decided to take the bus home. I had wasted my day off. It’s always a bad idea to go out without an umbrella in spring. It serves me right.
Compare that with:
Yesterday, I went for a walk in the park. However, when I arrived at the park, it started raining, and unfortunately, I didn’t have an umbrella. Furthermore, I was starting to feel hungry, so I decided to take the bus home instead – but I had wasted my day off. In fact, it’s always a bad idea to go out in spring without an umbrella, so I guess it serves me right.
Which one sounds more natural? Of course it’s the second one. Why? Thanks to the connectors!
So, to help you out and save you a bit of time, here’s my list of the most important French conversational connectors to get you started.
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33 French Conversational Connectors
These are some of the very first words you will learn in French and are essential when forming even the simplest joined-up sentences.
Most of these words work just like their English counterparts.
#1 Et – And
- Example: Je ne veux pas y aller et c’est tout ! – I don’t want to go and that’s that!
#2 Mais – But
- Example: Je ne veux pas y aller, mais tu peux me convaincre – I don’t want to go, but you can convince me
#3 Parce que – Because
- Example: Je ne veux pas y aller parce que ça m’ennuie – I don’t want to go because it bores me
#4 Peut-être – Perhaps, Maybe
- Example: Peut-être qu'on peut y aller après-demain – Perhaps we can go the day after tomorrow
#5 Comme – As, Since
This word in French has several meanings, including “like” (as in “similar”) and “as” (“he’s dressed as a monk”). But here, as a connector, it means “as” or “since”, a meaning that is close to “because”.
- Example: Comme ça m’ennuie, je ne veux pas y aller – Since it bores me, I don’t want to go
#6 Donc – Therefore
This is a useful word and is very common – it’s slightly more formal than alors, which we’ll come to in a moment.
- Example: Je n’ai pas d’argent donc je ne veux pas y aller – I don’t have any money, therefore I don’t want to go
- Example: Je pense donc je suis – I think therefore I am
It's also used in the following expression:
- Example: Quoi donc ? – What then?
Multipurpose Connectors In French To Sound Like A Native
Here are a couple of words that are super-common in French and that have lots of meanings.
Learning how to use them correctly can help make your French sound much more natural. And because they have so many uses, they’re extremely useful words to know.
In fact, I could probably write a whole post just about number 7. But I'll just give you an overview for now!
#7 Alors – So, Then, Therefore
This is a word that can seemingly be made to mean almost anything.
But its primary sense is “so” or “therefore”. It’s often used instead of donc and sounds less formal – the difference between the two is similar to the difference between “so” and “therefore” in English.
Note that when it isn’t being used to connect two parts of a sentence, alors can be placed at the beginning or end of what you say.
In English, we use “so” at the start of the sentence or replace it with “then” – which can go at the start or at the end. See the third example below to see how this works.
- Je n’ai pas d’argent alors je ne veux pas y aller – I don’t have any money, so I don’t want to go
- Je ne le voulais pas alors pourquoi tu l’as acheté ? – I didn’t want it so why did you buy it?
- Alors pourquoi tu l’as acheté?/Pourquoi tu l’as acheté alors ? – So/then why did you buy it?/Why did you buy it then?
Alors can also be used when in English you might say “so” or “well”. And just like in English, it has the full range of nuances, depending on how and when you say it.
Here are just a couple of examples:
- Alors ? – So? Well? (with a rising, questioning intonation – could mean “what do you want?” “how did it go?” “did you find it?” etc. depending on the context)
- Alors ! – Well then! (with a falling intonation, kind of like “I told you so!”)
- Bah alors ! – Well then! There, there! (depending on how you say it, it could mean anything from “well what did you expect?” or “serves you right” to “there, there” said to comfort someone!)
#8 Quand Même – All The Same, Anyway
I remember hearing this expression a lot when I was first learning French. Then – and when I finally worked out how to use it myself, I felt that my French had suddenly made a big jump forward.
It’s such a typically French expression that’s more than just another vocabulary item. And sometimes its meaning defies translation.
The basic sense is something like “all the same”. But you'll hear it used in all kinds of situations with varying nuances. Check out these examples:
- Je ne veux pas y aller mais je vais y aller quand même – I don’t want to go but I will go all the same (the meaning is close to “anyway” – I will go even though I don’t want to)
- Il est quand même un bon jouer – He’s a good player all the same (perhaps some doubt has been expressed about the player’s abilities and the speaker accepts the point but wants to stress that he’s still a good player – ‘yes, sometimes he’s lazy, but he’s a good player all the same’)
- C’est cher mais c’est bon quand même ! – It’s expensive, but it’s good though! (here, the idea being expressed is that although the food is expensive, it’s very good so it’s worth the money)
Quand même can also be used alone as a kind of exclamation to express the idea that something is impressive or considerable.
- Example: C’était combien ? 1.300€. Quand même ! – How much was it? €1,300. Wow, not exactly cheap! (the meaning is that the price is quite considerable – try to imagine it being said with a Gallic rise of the eyebrows, a slight tilt of the head, a little exhalation and a facial “shrug”!)
Other Useful Connectors In French
Most of these words are similar to the English equivalents.
#9 Pourtant – Yet, Still
Similar to “yet” or “still” in English.
- Example: Il est pourtant venu – Yet he came/he still came/yet he still came
- Example: Et pourtant, il est quand même venu – And yet he still came
#10 Cepandant – However
- Example: Il est beau. Cepandant je le trouve très bête – He’s handsome. However, I find him very stupid
#11 (Tout) D’abord – First (Of All)
- Example: D’abord, je vais chercher mon manteau – First, I’m going to fetch my coat
#12 En Général – In General
- Example: En général, ils sont tous comme ça – In general, they’re all like that
#13 En fait – In fact, Actually
Also, see actuellement in the “False Friends” section at the end.
- Example: En fait, je préfère la bière – In fact, I prefer beer
#14 Quant à – As For, Concerning
- Example: Quant à mes amis, ils préfèrent le vin – As for my friends, they prefer wine
#15 D’ailleurs – Moreover, Furthermore
- Example: Non, je ne l’ai pas invité. Et d’ailleurs, je lui ai dit de ne pas venir – No, I didn’t invite him. And moreover, I told him not to come
#16 Au Contraire – On The Contrary
- Example: Au contraire, ce n’est pas du tout ce que je voulais dire – On the contrary, that’s not what I meant at all
#17 Malgré – Despite
- Example: Malgré tout, elle l’aime toujours – Despite everything, she still loves him
#18 Sinon – Otherwise
- Example: Tu lui diras. Sinon il va oublier – Tell him. Otherwise he’ll forget
#19 Dès Que – As Soon As
- Example: On va partir dès qu’il arrive – We’ll leave as soon as he arrives
#20 Quoique – Whatever
This expression is always followed by a subjunctive verb in French.
- Example: Il ne me croit pas, quoique je dise – He doesn’t believe me, whatever I say
#21 Sans Doute – Without
- Example: Sans doute, c’est pour ça – Without doubt, that’s why
#22 Par Contre – On The Other Hand
- Example: S’il fait beau, j’irai. Par contre, s’il pleut, je reste ici – If the weather is good, I’ll go. On the other hand, if it rains, I’ll stay here
#23 En Plus – Furthermore, Additionally, As Well
- Example: Il a volé mon portefeille, et en plus, il m’a insulté ! – He stole my wallet, and furthermore, he insulted me!
#24 Surtout – Above All
- Example: Et surtout, il ne faut pas le dire à personne ! – And above all, you mustn’t tell it to anyone!
#25 De Toute Façon – Anyway
- Example: De toute façon, je vais lui dire – I’m going to tell him anyway
Connectors In French For Expressing Your Opinion
These are words and phrases for when you need to express your opinion.
#26 Je Pense Que… – I Think That…
- Example: Je pense que tu as tort – I think you’re wrong
#27 À Mon Avis – In My Opinion
- Example: À mon avis, ce n’est pas le cas – In my opinion, that’s not the case
#28 Pour Moi – For Me
- Example: Pour moi, ce n’est pas la peine – For me, it’s not worth it
#29 Selon – According To
- Example: Selon mon professeur, ça se dit comme ça – According to my teacher, that’s how it’s said
Connectors In French: False Friend Alert!
To finish, here are a couple of connecting words that many English speakers get wrong – as do many French speakers when they use the English versions.
#31 and #32 are slightly different from English and are easy to confuse. The last is one of the most notorious false friends in the French language.
#30 En Effet – Indeed, Actually
This doesn’t quite mean ‘in effect’. It’s closer to ‘indeed’ or ‘actually’.
- Example: En effet, c’est tout à fait vrai ! – Indeed, it’s completely true!
#31 Finalement – In The End, After All
Be careful here – finalement doesn’t mean “finally” as in “he’s finally arrived”. The true meaning is “in the end” and is used, for example, when the final outcome is not what you expected.
- Example: Ah ! Alors finalement tu as décidé de venir ! – Ah! So you decided to come in the end!
#32 Enfin – Finally, At Last, At Least
If you want to say “finally”, the correct word is enfin – it expresses the idea that something you have been waiting for has finally happened.
- Example: Il a enfin réussi à vendre sa maison ! – He’s finally managed to sell his house!
It also has another meaning that is similar to “at least” in English.
- Example: Il a vendu sa maison. Enfin, c’est ce que j’ai entendu – He sold his house. At least, that’s what I heard
#33 Actuellement – At The Moment, Currently, Right Now
Actuellement DOES NOT mean “actually”! If you want to express “actually”, the closest French expression is en fait (in fact).
Actuellement means “currently” or “at the moment”, and this is why sometimes French people will say things like “I’m busy actually” – they really mean “I’m busy right now”.
- Example: Je ne suis pas disponible actuellement – I’m not available right now/currently
Connectors In French: A Quick Way To Improve Your French
Many of these words are invaluable since they can help you express yourself much more clearly and accurately.
Plus, there are no complicated grammar rules to learn. You can sound more natural and fluent with minimal effort.
En plus, by incorporating them into your active French vocabulary, you can make yourself sound much more like a native speaker.
Et finalement, that’s the goal that everyone is hoping to achieve!
This list is a great start point. But now it's over to you. As you read French and listen to French, notice these connectors. Observe how native people use them in their conversations. How do they pronounce them? Where and when do they use them.
This is great preparation for using them in your conversations with French speakers.