Nine common filler words to help you better understand French

Recognising them will help you filter the words that matter in a sentence

Filler words are good to recognise, but be cautious about using them too much yourself
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French is full of filler words that can throw you off if you do not know to look out for them.

There are so many, social media is awash with jokes about how they are often used for entire conversations.

Once you learn to notice them, it will help you to understand better because you can filter the words that matter.

But exercise caution in using them yourself: one expert told The Connexion it is better to let silence reign in a conversation than punctuate what you are saying with filler words, such as du coup.

1. Genre

Genre is used as a filler in the same sense as the English ‘like’.

You will hear this all the time, however, it is pronounced without the ‘n’ so it sounds more like ‘jor’.

Once you notice it, you will see it crop up numerous times throughout a conversation, especially with younger people.

2. Fin

Again, this is used to fill a gap in sentences or often when people are changing the direction of what they are saying.

In this context, fin is actually an abbreviation of enfin, which means ‘finally’.

For example, if someone starts to say something and then decides to explain it differently, they will often use fin as an indication that they are changing tact.

It can also be used to connect two parts of the sentence or to indicate you are rounding up.

3. Quoi

While it means ‘what’, quoi is also used as a filler word, which can make it confusing for French learners.

When used as a filler, it is like the English ‘you know’ and will usually be used at the end of a sentence.

It can also be used like the English ‘come on’.

Again, like ‘genre’, when you realise how often it is used, you will begin to hear it all the time.

Read also: Five Netflix TV shows to help improve your French

4. En fait

This means ‘in fact’, but French people use it far more than Anglophones.

It is usually used when someone is about to explain something or when they are going to introduce a counter-argument.

5. Tu vois

This is another phrase that comes up all the time.

It literally translates as ‘you see’ and it is frequently used at the end of sentences or to emphasise a point you have just made.

6. Voilà

Although English has stolen this, French people use it far more often in their everyday lives.

Meaning ‘there you go’ or ‘there you have it’, like many of these words, it is used to emphasise a point or to show that you agree with something.

Read also: ‘Malgré que’ and other language mistakes even French people make

7. Bref

This translates to ‘anyway’ or ‘in short’ and is often used to indicate a change in conversation.

It is often paired with fin to change the subject matter of a discussion.

8. Tac

This does not really translate to anything, however, you will hear it all the time in French.

It often indicates a step-by-step process. For example, a teacher may say it as they are handing out papers or a waiter as they are serving customers’ meals.

It can also be considered as the English equivalent of ‘check’. For example, as if you were going through a list ticking things off.

9. Bon

In the filler context, bon can be used like ‘well’ in English.

You will often hear it used ahead of a concluding statement.

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