Oh là là, The 7 most useful advanced English phrases which come from French!

Ever since the Norman conquest of 1066, when French armies invaded England, the English language has been very strongly influenced by French.  This influence is still very strong today, so strong in fact, that there are quite a few words in the English language which have been taken directly from French.  Here are 7 of the most useful expressions.  I think you will like them, they make the English language sound a lot nicer!


Laissez-faire literally translates as ‘let do’.  If you have a laissez-faire attitude to something it means that you do not get involved or influence other people’s activities.

It can be used to describe a very relaxed or even lazy management style, or a relaxed / lazy attitude to handling a certain situation.

‘The team leader seems to have a very laissez faire attitude to managing his people.’

‘The government have been very laissez-faire about the rising crime figures in the country.’

faux pas

A faux-pas is an embarrassing or inappropriate act in a social situation.

This can be regarding something you say or do:

‘John made a terrible faux-pas when he made a controversial political remark at the company dinner’

‘In some countries, it is considered a faux-pas to leave the dinner table before others have finished eating.’

It can also be in relation to other social issues, such as having inappropriate clothing to an event.

‘Jenny committed a faux-pas when she wore jeans to the formal event.’

en route

This phrase quite simply means ‘on the way’.

‘It will take us 8 hours to drive to our destination so we can stop for a few hours en route.’

crème de la crème

Literally translated as ‘the cream of the cream’, this phrase means ‘the best of the best’.

It is a nice phrase to use when you are showing your enthusiasm about somebody or something.

‘Amy has broken the record for the most sales in one day from our company, she really is the crème de la crème of our sales force!’

‘The iphone 7 really is the crème de la crème of smartphones’

deja vu

The word deja vu  literally translates as ‘already seen’.  It describes the idea that you have a strong feeling that you have already seen or experienced something before.  Usually due to some inexplicable feeling of familiarity with a certain place or event.

‘When I walked into the room for the first time I got a strange feeling of deja vu.’

It can also be used when expressing anger or disappointment at somebody else when they do something bad that they have already done before.

‘I had a feeling of deja vu when my boss rejected my promotion for the second time’


pièce de résistance

This is probably my favourite of all phrases in this post.  The pièce de résistance is the most important or exciting feature of something, often when you are describing a list of a product’s features.

For example:

‘There are many beautiful rooms in the apartment, but the pièce de résistance has to be the balcony with a beautiful view over the sea.’

‘The meal was delicious, but the pièce de résistance was the chocolate cake we had for desert’


RSVP stands for ‘réspondez si’l vous plait’.  Which literally translates as ‘please respond’.

This phrase is usually written on the bottom of a formal or informal invitation. It means that the person who has invited you to an event wants you to reply to say if you will be attending or not.

For any native French speakers out there, check out the most difficult English words for French speakers to pronounce right here. If you would like to have any any further example sentences with these words, feel free to email me at [email protected], or message me on Skype at live:fluencyspace! Check out more useful vocabulary here!


 David Cox

 Fluency Space

 Make the world your fluency space. Business English for career and life success

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