Tac, euh, bah: French language tics you hear every day

Discover five words that French people use but that have no real meaning

When finishing a task such as folding laundry, people often exclaim hop, c’est fait (right, that is done)
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Most languages have little words or sounds that are said without any real intention as a reflex or language tic - and these are particularly common in French.

Sometimes people mutter them to themselves or use them in conversation to emphasise what they are saying.

They often do not have a real meaning and those saying them will barely be conscious of using them.

Here is our list of the most widely used ones that you can have a go at incorporating into your French to sound more like a native.


This word sounds a bit like saying ‘up’ in a French accent, with the ‘o’ sound being very similar to a ‘u’.

It is often used when completing a minor task. For example, when you finish stacking the dishwasher, you could say hop to mark the ending of the task.

Here is an example in one of the most famous cult classic films, Brice de Nice.

The titular character calls someone on the phone. The person answers and says allo, oui? (hello, yes?) to which Brice says Non, rien (no, nothing) before hanging up.

He then says Allez hop, ça c’est fait (No, nothing. Right, that is done), verbally ticking it off his to-do list.

It is often combined with allez (come on). For example, if you are feeling lazy and finally get up to go and do something, you could say allez hop as you stand up to help motivate yourself.

Allez hop is also used to get people to do something. If your child will not get out of bed, you can gently say allez hop, on se lève (come on, let’s get up).


Tac is a similar word that is widely used and once you start hearing it, you will not stop noticing it.

In general, it can be used whenever you do anything, such as picking something up or taking off your shoes.

If someone hands you a form to sign, they are likely to say tac as they do.

Read more: Try swapping syllables in French words to sound like a native

It sounds exactly as it looks, as in ‘tack’.

An English equivalent is ‘there’ if you are handing something to someone, or ‘tick/check’ if you are completing tasks from a mental checklist.


Another sound used to signify that a task is complete is paf.

It is difficult to say which of the three words above is more or less common, but paf is probably the least widely used.

It is also the sound used for when someone falls or gets hit by something: et là, paf! Il se la prend dans la tête! (And then, boom! It hit him in the head)


This is the word used instead of ‘umm’ or ‘err’ to express hesitation or uncertainty.

It sounds very similar to ‘err’ except with a round mouth and a French accent.


People will use this word to accentuate whatever they are expressing, whether that is disagreement, surprise, disgust or indifference.

For example, if someone says something you disagree with, you can say bah non, ce n’est pas vrai (no, that is not true).

A common response to a child asking ‘why?’ is bah parce que c’est comme ça (because that is how it is).

It can also be employed to show that something is obvious: “c’est à toi?” “Bah oui” (‘Is this yours?’ ‘Of course’)

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