Whether you’re happy or sad, you should know how to express it. Knowing the emotions in French is a crucial part of your fluency. So, here’s everything you need to know about talking about your feelings. Learn how to ask someone how they’re feeling, and all the different ways you can respond to questions like that. This useful vocabulary of emotions in French will certainly come in handy when you’re talking to locals. You actually talk about your emotions a lot in everyday conversations.
Before you start learning how to express your emotions in French, it’s important to know the grammar behind them. French adjectives follow a particular set of rules. The adjectives you use to describe emotions in French obey the subject-agreement rules. This means that French adjectives change their endings according to two factors:
Let’s take the adjective heureux (happy) to show examples of such modifications:
Be sure to go through our guide on how to match adjectives that describe emotions in French with the right noun gender if you still have trouble grasping the context. With that out of the way, we can now move on to the emotional words or phrases you should be using to express your emotions in French.
While these questions are mainly about asking someone about their emotions in French, they can also be more. Very often, you’ll hear them as greetings instead.
Translation: How are you?
All the phrases translate to ‘how are you’ in English. The difference is their formality with the most formal being the first phrase and the most casual being the last. This is mostly a greeting phrase that rarely evokes detailed answers especially if posed to people you are not very close to.
This translates to ‘What’s Wrong?’ It is a more detailed way to probe for feelings, especially if the person looks visibly distressed. If you want to express your emotions in French and show that your question is aggressive, try Qu’est-ce que tu as ? that translates to ‘What is WRONG with you!
Translating to ‘How are you feeling?,’ this is a great phrase to use if you are addressing someone who is ill. It will be a valuable asset if you are a doctor or a nurse.
After finding out what other people feel, it is now time to learn how you can express your own emotions in French. In most cases, these phrases can be perfect responses to some of the questions we addressed in the section above.
You have three main ways to start a sentence about your emotions in French:
This phrase means ‘I am.’ This straightforward phrase is common. All you have to match it with your current feeling modified to match your gender and you are good to go!
If you want to express emotions in French and make it clear it’s a feeling you are talking about, you can use this starting phrase that translates to ‘I feel.’ You have to combine it with the right emotion to complete it.
The other way you can express your emotions is by using this phrase that means ‘I have.’ This phrase makes use of the avoir and etre construction. Here are some popular uses of the combination:
Not that you know how to start a sentence, let’s take a look at how you may be feeling. Luckily, there are a lot of emotional words in French. These 12 are very common, but of course, there are countless more. Expand your vocabulary and develop your fluency with them.
These phrases loosely translate to ‘Happy.’ Heureux is more about the intense feeling of happiness, and content is the feeling of satisfaction.
Example: Elle est contente/heureuse d’avoir un nouveau chien. (She’s happy she has a new dog.)
Triste is the opposite of content(e). It means sad. The adjective doesn’t have a gender which makes it easier for beginners to use.
Example: J’étais triste après la fin de la série. (I was sad after the TV series ended.)
This French emotion means surprised or astonished.
Example: J’étais très étonné par ce qu’elle m’a dit. (I was very surprised by what she told me.)
This adjective translates to ‘busy.’ This phrase will come in handy when making plans as it can help you tell people when you will be occupied or available. It is a good way to symbolically portray your feelings, for instance, if you don’t want to meet someone but can’t say you dislike them.
Example: Je vais être occupé(e). (I will be busy)
Unlike désolé(e), the French word for sorry, navré(e) is used to express deeper regret and distress. It translates to feeling sorry or distressed in French. It’s an appropriate way to show your remorse to someone who is in deep distress, if after you have made a huge mistake or if something really terrible has happened to you.
Example: Il était navré après avoir perdu ma voiture. (He was sorry/distressed after he lost my car).
Énervé(e) means to be irritated. You can remember this word quickly if you imagine someone being on your nerves. The verb for of énervé(e) is énerver, which means “to annoy”.
Example: Pierre est énervé parce que ses invités sont en retard. (Jacques is irritated because his guests are late.)
This French adjective means to be rushed or in a hurry. You can signify your urgency with it.
Example: Je suis pressé(e)! Le film commence bientôt! (I’m in a hurry! The movie’s starting soon!)
You can say this French adjective when you’re very angry. While using fâché(e) is pretty straightforward, en colère isn’t. If you want to say that something is making you angry, you need to use the verb mettre before.
Example: Je suis fâché(e) avec/contre lui ! (I’m angry with him!)
Example: Tu me mets en colère (You’re making me angry!).
Everyone’s very familiar with this emotion. Fatigué(e) means “tired” in French. Whether you’re pulling an all-nighter, or you just got off a 12-hour shift, you can definitely complain with this French emotion. Remembering this adjective is easy because the English “fatigued” is very similar.
Example: J’ai fatigué. Je n’ai dormi que 4 heures. (I’m tired. I only slept 4 hours.)
When you’re feeling bored, you can use s’ennuyer to express it. It’s not an adjective, but a pronominal verb. Conjugate it to express the emotion in French.
Example: Il y a rien à faire. Je m’ennuie! (There is nothing to do. I’m bored!)
Very similar to fatigué(e), épuisé(e) means exhausted. It’s a little bit stronger than tired.
Example: Il est épuisé avaint le travail. (He is exhausted after work).
Malade means sick. This is a very important word to know. If you ever feel unwell, you can express this feeling in French.
Example: Elle ne peut pas chanter, elle est malade. (She can’t sing, she is sick.)
Sometimes, you can use idioms to express your feelings. Idioms are fun because their direct translation makes no sense but their mastery makes you more of a native speaker. A good example in English is ‘crying over spilt milk.’ Knowing a couple is a good way to dig deeper into the French language and culture.
Meaning: to be bummed out
This literally translates to ‘ have a cockroach’ but French speakers have used it to express the emotion of being bummed out for ages.
This phrase means to be terrified. When in use, it should be conjugated right giving you phrases like ‘J’ai une peur bleue.’ The literal translation of the phrase is ‘ to have blue fear.’
This is a good phrase to use after a long weekend as it translates to ‘be hangovered.’ The literal translation is ‘to have the wooden face.’
You’ll be surprised how often you’ll have to talk about emotions in French. Now you know some useful adjectives to keep up with those conversations. But, there’s a lot more to French fluency. If you want to learn the most useful French words and phrases effortlessly, you need to download OptiLingo.
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