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There are many ways for you to pick up French during your time at McGill. We recommend taking French courses either through McGill (subsidized so you pay Québécois tuition) following a placement test or through the government of Quebec (you may even get paid for it). Another fun way to familiarize yourself with the French language is to make friends with Québécois students/residents and practice with them. Don't let fear or embarrassment stop you! 

Bonjour, Hi!

We are all familiar with the classic French greeting, "bonjour,” but to survive the francophone province of Quebec (and the bilingual city of Montreal), you may want to familiarize yourself with some more common terms you’ll see when you’re out and about. While most students are able to get by with just English within the McGill bubble, learning French will make your life much easier and allow you to make the most of your time here. Here are some of the most common French words you will hear in Montreal, along with a simplified pronunciation guide.*

Click the           icon to listen to the pronunciations! You're welcome :)

Common French Words Seen/Heard in Montreal


  • Merci - “thank you,” another classic French word that will get you far in this city

    • (MER-SEE)

  • S’il vous plaît - “please,” an essential phrase for earning the respect of Montrealers

    • (SEEL VU PLAY)

  • Où sont les toilettes? – “Where is the bathroom?” Don’t be daunted by the accent; it’s really just a regular “u.”


  • Parlez-vous anglais? – “Do you speak English?” This will save your life when you’re really struggling.


  • L’addition, s’il vous plaît – “Cheque, please,” for when you’re finished with your poutine


  • Pour emporter - “to go,” very useful for your morning coffee. Combine with a “s’il vous plaît” to make your barista smile.


  • Solde – “sale,” if you ever see this word, you’re truly winning

    • (SAWLD)


Places and Getting Around

  • Ville - "city/town," Downtown Montreal is known as Ville-Marie

    • (VEEL)

  • Est/Ouest - "east" and "west" respectively, you will commonly see streets like Rue Sherbrooke O. (Sherbrooke Street West)

    • (EST, OO-EST)

  • Rue - "street" or "road," an example would be rue Sherbrooke (no one calls it Sherbrooke Street)

    • (ROO)

  • Boul. - shortened form of "boulevard"

    • (BOOL)

  • Métro - "subway," a great way to get around Montréal (in addition to buses)

    • (MAY-TRO)

  • Sortie - "exit," essential if you ever need to find the nearest exit out of a building

    • (SOR-TEA)

  • Arrêt - "stop," commonly seen on the red octagonal street signs

    • (ARR-ETTE)

  • Stationnement - "parking (lot)"


  • Dépanneur - "convenience store," commonly sells alcohol

    • (DAY-PAN-UR)

  • Épicerie - "grocery store"

    • (AY-PEE-SE-REE)

  • Terrasse - "patio," a term used to refer to the outdoor restaurant seating on the sidewalks of Montreal common in the summer

    • (TEAR-ASS)

  • Cabanne à sucre - “sugar shack,” a place where maple syrup is made



Good luck! Bonne chance!

* Please note that these pronunciations are not completely accurate as some French sounds have no English counterpart (looking at you, French “r”). Instead, they are meant to serve as a basis, or “American” pronunciations, that will help you fake it ’til you make it.

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