Filler words are often underestimated in their significance, yet they are vital language components. These seemingly insignificant utterances, like “um,” “uh,” or their equivalents in various languages, serve as linguistic crutches, aiding in the fluidity and coherence of speech. Recognizing the importance of French filler words can greatly enhance one’s communication skills, fostering fluency and naturalness in dialogue.

What are Filler Words?

Filler words, as the name suggests, fill gaps in speech, providing a buffer during pauses or hesitations. They contribute to the rhythm and flow of conversation, helping to maintain coherence and engagement. In French, filler words such as “quoi,” “voilà,” and others fulfil similar functions, enriching the language with nuances of expression and facilitating smoother communication.

Consider the momentary pauses in everyday speech. These pauses, often filled with filler words, allow speakers to gather their thoughts, formulate responses, or signal to listeners that they are still engaged in the conversation. Without filler words, speech can appear abrupt or disjointed, hindering comprehension and rapport between speakers.

23 Easy French Filler Words

1. Quoi

Literal translation: “What”

Meaning and usage: “Quoi” is a versatile filler word used in French to seek clarification, express surprise, or emphasize a point. It can be employed at the end of a sentence to turn it into a question or as an interjection to express doubt or disbelief.


French: “J’ai déjà expliqué ça, quoi.”

English: “I’ve already explained that, you know.”

French: “Quoi de neuf ?”

English: “What’s new?”

2. Voilà

Literal translation: “There it is” or “Here it is”

Meaning and usage: “Voilà” is a versatile phrase to introduce or present something, indicate completion, or express satisfaction. It is commonly used in French to draw attention to a finished task or to provide a solution or explanation.


French: “Voilà le résultat de nos efforts. Nous avons réussi !”

English: “Here’s the result of our efforts. We did it!”

French: “Voilà la solution à ton problème.”

English: “Here’s the solution to your problem.”

3. Bref

Literal translation: “Brief” or “In short”

Meaning and usage: “Bref” is a versatile filler word used to summarize or conclude a topic briefly. It signals to the listener that the speaker is wrapping up a point or transitioning to a new topic. In everyday speech, it is often employed to provide a summary or to indicate that a topic is not worth delving into further.


French: “Bref, ça ne sert à rien de s’inquiéter maintenant.”

English: “Anyway, there is no point in worrying now.”

French: “Bref, j’ai décidé de partir en vacances seule.”

English: “Well, I have decided to go on vacation alone.”

4. Bon

Literal translation: “Good” or “Well”

Meaning and usage: “Bon” is a filler word conveying agreement, acknowledgment, or affirmation. It indicates approval, agreement, or understanding in a conversation. Additionally, “bon” can function as a conversational marker, signaling the beginning or end of a topic or providing a transition in dialogue.


French: “Tu veux aller au cinéma ce soir ? – Bon, pourquoi pas !”

English: “Do you want to go to the movies tonight? – Well, why not!”

French: “Bon, je vais commencer à préparer le dîner.”

English: “All right, I’ll start preparing dinner.”

5. Eh Bien

Literal translation: “Well then” or “So”

Meaning and usage: “Eh bien” is a filler phrase used to introduce a statement or express hesitation, surprise, or emphasis. It serves as a conversational marker, indicating a transition or a moment of reflection. “Eh bien” can also be employed to express encouragement or agreement.


French: “Eh bien, qu’est-ce que tu penses de cette proposition?”

English: “Well then, what do you think of this proposal?”

French: “Eh bien, tu n’as qu’à demander de l’aide si tu en as besoin.”

English: “Well, you can always ask for help if you need it.”

6. Ben

Literal translation: “Well” or “So”

Meaning and usage: “Ben” is an informal filler commonly used in spoken French. It serves various purposes, including expressing hesitation, signaling agreement, or introducing a statement. “Ben” is often used in casual conversation and contributes to the natural flow of speech.


French: “Ben, je pense que c’est une bonne idée.”

English: “Well, I think it is a good idea.”

French: “Ben oui, bien sûr que je viendrai à la fête !”

English: “So yes, of course I will come to the party!”

7. Et alors

Literal translation: “And so”

Meaning and usage: “Et alors” introduces a new point or inquires about a situation’s consequences. It can also express indifference or impatience.


French: “J’ai mangé tout le gâteau. Et alors ?”

English: “I ate the whole cake. So what?”

French: “Il a décidé de partir en voyage autour du monde. Et alors ?”

English: “He decided to go on a trip around the world. So what?”

8. Et puis

Literal translation: “And then”

Meaning and usage: “Et puis” adds another point to a conversation or transitions to a new topic. It can also indicate resignation or acceptance.


French: “J’ai fini mon travail. Et puis, je suis rentré chez moi.”

English: “I finished my work. And then, I went home.”

French: “Je ne peux pas changer ça. Et puis, tant pis.”

English: “I can’t change that. And then, so be it.”

9. Hein

Literal translation: “Huh” or “What”

Meaning and usage: “Hein” is used to seek confirmation or to express surprise, confusion, or doubt.


French: “On se voit demain, hein?”

English: “We are meeting tomorrow, right?”

French: “Tu as déjà fini ? Hein, c’est impossible !”

English: “You’re already finished? What, that’s impossible!”

 10. Bien

Literal translation: “Good” or “Well”

Meaning and usage: “Bien” is a versatile filler word used to express agreement, acknowledgment, or emphasis. It can also indicate approval or acceptance of a situation.


French: “Tu veux sortir ce soir ? – Bien sûr !”

English: “Do you want to go out tonight? – Of course!”

French: “Nous avons terminé le projet. Bien, passons à la prochaine étape.”

English: “We have completed the project. Well, let’s move on to the next step.”

11. Enfin

Literal translation: “Finally”

Meaning and usage: “Enfin” is used to express relief, satisfaction, or the conclusion of a long-awaited event or situation. It can also indicate the beginning of a new phase or a transition in conversation.


French: “Enfin, les vacances commencent !”

English: “Finally, the holidays begin!”

French: “J’ai réussi mon examen. Enfin, tout ce travail a payé.”

English: “I passed my exam. Finally, all that work paid off.”

12. Tu Vois

Literal translation: “You see”

Meaning and usage: “Tu vois” is used to emphasize a point or ensure listener comprehension. It can also serve as a rhetorical question or a way to involve the listener in the conversation.


French: “Tu vois, il faut écouter son instinct parfois.”

English: “You see, sometimes you have to listen to your instincts.”

French: “Tu vois, il est crucial d’apprendre de ses erreurs.”

English: “You see, it’s crucial to learn from your mistakes.”

13. Quand Même

Literal translation: “Even when” or “Still”

Meaning and usage: “Quand même” is used to express concession, persistence, or surprise. It can convey the idea of doing something despite obstacles or circumstances or emphasize the unexpectedness of a situation.


French: “C’est cher, mais je l’ai acheté quand même.”

English: “It’s expensive, but I bought it anyway.”

French: “Il a travaillé toute la nuit, mais il est venu à la réunion quand même.”

English: “He worked all night, but he still came to the meeting.”

14. En Fait

Literal translation: “In fact” or “Actually”

Meaning and usage: “En fait” introduces additional information or clarifies a point. It can also indicate a correction or a change in perspective.


French: “J’ai pensé à toi hier. En fait, j’ai oublié de t’appeler.”

English: “I thought about you yesterday. Actually, I forgot to call you.”

French: “Il a dit qu’il viendrait, mais en fait, il ne peut pas.”

English: “He said he would come, but actually, he can’t.”

15. Genre

Literal translation: “Type” or “Kind”

Meaning and usage: “Genre” is used informally to introduce a comparison or an example. It can also express skepticism, disbelief, or approximation.


French: “Il est genre, super intelligent, tu sais.”

English: “He’s like, super smart, you know.”

French: “J’ai fait genre, 10 kilomètres à pied aujourd’hui.”

English: “I walked like, 10 kilometers today.”

16. Donc

Literal translation: “So” or “Therefore”

Meaning and usage: “Donc” indicates consequence, inference, or logical conclusion. It connects ideas or actions, providing continuity in speech or writing.


French: “Il est tard, donc je vais rentrer chez moi.”

English: “It’s late, so I’m going home.”

French: “Je n’ai pas faim, donc je ne vais pas manger maintenant.”

English: “I’m not hungry, so I’m not going to eat right now.”

17. Bah oui

Literal translation: “Well yes”

Meaning and usage: “Bah oui” is a colloquial expression used to affirm something obvious or expected. It conveys a sense of certainty or agreement.


French: “Tu viens à la fête, bah oui, évidemment !”

English: “Are you coming to the party? Well yes, of course!”

French: “Tu veux du chocolat ? Bah oui, bien sûr que j’en veux !”

English: “Do you want some chocolate? Well yes, of course I want some!”

18. Tiens

Literal translation: “Here” or “Hold on”

Meaning and usage: “Tiens” is used to draw attention to something or to express surprise, acknowledgment, or agreement.


French: “Tiens, regarde ce que j’ai trouvé.”

English: “Here, look what I found.”

French: “Tiens, c’est une bonne idée !”

English: “Well, that’s a good idea!”

19. Hein

Literal translation: “Huh” or “What”

Meaning and usage: “Hein” is used to seek confirmation or to express surprise, confusion, or doubt.


French: “On se voit demain, hein?”

English: “We’re meeting tomorrow, right?”

French: “Tu as déjà fini ? Hein, c’est impossible !”

English: “You’re already finished? What, that’s impossible!”

 20. Nan, mais…

Literal translation: “No, but”

Meaning and usage: “Nan, mais” is used to express disagreement or disbelief, often followed by an explanation or clarification.


French: “Nan, mais tu comprends pas.”

English: “No, but you don’t understand.”

French: “Nan, mais c’est pas vrai !”

English: “No, but that’s not true!”

21. Euh

Literal translation: “Um” or “Er”

Meaning and usage: “Euh” is a hesitation filler word used to signal a pause in speech while the speaker gathers their thoughts or formulates their next words.


French: “Euh, je ne suis pas sûr de comprendre votre question.”

English: “Um, I’m not sure I understand your question.”

French: “Euh, est-ce que tu peux répéter s’il te plaît ?”

English: “Um, can you repeat that please?”

22. Alors

Literal translation: “So” or “Then”

Meaning and usage: “Alors” is a versatile filler word used to introduce a new topic, summarize, or express a consequence or condition.


French: “Alors, qu’est-ce qu’on fait maintenant?”

English: “So, what do we do now?”

French: “Elle a raté son train, alors elle est arrivée en retard à la réunion.”

English: “She missed her train, so she arrived late to the meeting.”

23. J’avoue

Literal translation: “I admit” or “I confess”

Meaning and usage: “J’avoue” acknowledges a point or concede a fact. It can also express agreement or confirmation.


French: “J’avoue que je me suis trompé.”

English: “I admit that I was wrong.”

French: “J’avoue avoir été surpris par ses résultats.”

English: “I admit to being surprised by his results.”

Benefits Of Using Them While Speaking

Incorporating filler words into speech offers numerous advantages that contribute to effective communication. Firstly, they maintain the flow of conversation, preventing awkward pauses and ensuring a smooth exchange of ideas. This fluidity enhances the overall comprehension and engagement of listeners, facilitating more productive and enjoyable interactions.

Moreover, filler words provide valuable time for speakers to organize their thoughts and structure their speech. These brief pauses allow for mental processing, enabling speakers to articulate their ideas more clearly and coherently. Additionally, filler words serve as signals of active participation in conversation, indicating to listeners that the speaker is still engaged and attentive.

Furthermore, filler words can convey subtle nuances of emotion and attitude, adding depth and richness to communication. They can express hesitation, emphasis, skepticism, or empathy, allowing speakers to convey their intentions more effectively and connect with their audience on a deeper level.

Incorporating filler words from different languages can facilitate cross-cultural communication and foster understanding and appreciation of diverse linguistic expressions in multicultural contexts. This adaptability enhances interpersonal relationships and promotes cultural sensitivity and inclusivity in communication.


Filler words, though often overlooked, are essential components of spoken language. They contribute to communication’s fluidity, coherence, and expressiveness, enriching dialogue and fostering deeper connections between speakers. By embracing filler words and recognizing their significance, individuals can enhance their communication skills and become more effective and engaging communicators in both personal and professional settings. To learn more about such topics, check out our blogs page.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the filler word for like in French?

The equivalent of “like” in French is often “genre,” used similarly to express approximation or comparison.

Why do French people say Quoi so much?

“Quoi” serves various purposes in French, from seeking clarification to expressing disbelief or confusion, making it a versatile filler word deeply ingrained in colloquial speech.

Is it rude not to say bonjour in France?

In French culture, greeting etiquette is significant. Not saying “bonjour” can be perceived as impolite or impolitic, as it is considered a basic courtesy and acknowledgment of others.