15 Practical French expressions to communicate your emotions

Communicating emotions is very important in any language.

Generally, when you want to have a deep conversation in French, you can experience some difficulties to express your own emotions. And eventually, you can feel frustrated.

In this useful guide, you will learn 15 French expressions to describe happiness, anger, surprise, fear and sadness.

So let's see now different expressions that will help you to describe your emotions.


La joie ๐Ÿ˜Š


The basic way to express happiness in French is : รชtre content(e)ยน - to be happy.

  • 1) An other way to express it : sourire jusqu'aux oreilles. It defines a large smile, a great satisfaction. It litterally means to smile up to the ears. The English equivalent would be grin from ear to ear. For exemple: En apprenant cette nouvelle, il a souri jusqu'aux oreilles - Upon learning that news, he grinned from ear to ear.

  • 2) However, for a sudden and noisy laugh, you will say รฉclater de rire (bursting out laughing). For instance : J'ai รฉclatรฉ de rire en regardant cette vidรฉo.

  • 3) Finally, angels are an illustration of a pleasant paradise, this is the reason why we use the expression รชtre aux anges. Aujourd'hui, je vais ร  la plage. Je suis aux anges ! It means you are with the angels, or over the moon in a more familiar way.

ยน Je suis content is masculine ๐Ÿ‘จ
Je suis contente is feminine ๐Ÿ‘ฉ


La tristesse ๐Ÿ˜”


The typical term to speak about sadness is to use is รชtre triste. For exemple: Je suis triste car tu me manques - I am sad because I miss you. Also, you could use pleurer ๐Ÿ˜ข which is to cry. Pourquoi tu pleures ?

  • 4) If sadness prevent you to speak, the expression is the same as to remain silent - Rester muet ๐Ÿ™Š. Elles sont restรฉes muettesยน toute la soirรฉe - they remained silent the all for the whole evening.

ยน Ils sont muets ๐Ÿ‘จ
Elles sont muettes ๐Ÿ‘ฉ

  • 5) Faire grise mine. To understand the expression, let's see firstly the words building it. La mine defines the different faceโ€™s expressions. Gris is grey. Someone doing the grey face looks sad, grey. However, it is not necessary describing a person. Le ciel fait grise mine ๐ŸŒˆ - The sky is being so grey.

  • 6) Then, we have the famous expression Avoir le cafard - To have the cockroach. Originally, It was to be linked with poverty and presence of vermin in dilapidated house. The mixture of both gives the feeling of depression. It became a symbol of sadness created by Charles Baudelaire - French poet of 19s that we will see in a next article - in his Fleurs du Mal, and his famous spleen.


La colรจre ๐Ÿ˜ก


To express anger in French, we say รชtre en colรจre, or s'รฉnerver (reflexive verb). You could also use รชtre furieux if you are extremely angry.

  • 7) A frequent sign of anger is to clench fists, or Serrer les poings โœŠ. We use the expression when someone is angry but refrain to let explode the anger. Serre les poings, garde ta rage - Clench your fists, keep your rage.

  • 8) Faire les gros yeux is when you threaten someone simply with an eye. Quand je lui ai dis qu'il avait tord, il m'a fait les gros yeux - When I told him he was wrong, he looked sternly at me.

  • 9) In French, an illustration of extreme anger is black color. Entrer dans une colรจre noire is to enter into a black anger.


La surprise ๐Ÿ˜ฒ


รŠtre surpris(e)

  • 10) If you want to say that you are voiceless, you will use Rester sans voix. Face ร  cette belle femme, il est restรฉ sans voix. In view of this beautiful woman, he was voiceless.

  • 11) En rester bouche bรฉe ๐Ÿ˜ต is a similar expression which means to stay without knowing what to say, to be speechless. In old French, bรฉer is to stay with an open mouth. Mon ami australien parle Japonais et Farsi couramment (=fluently), j'en reste bouche bรฉe.

  • 12) Saying you are extremely surprised with tomber des nues โ˜ - to fall from the clouds. Quand elle a appris que Batman รฉtait Bruce Wayne, elle est tombรฉe des nues ! - When she learned that Batman was Bruce Wayne, she went flabbergasted !


La peur ๐Ÿ˜ฑ


If you are afraid of something, you can basically use avoir peur.

  • 13) When the cold take hold of your body, your all body shivers, especially your back (=dos). Avoir froid dans le dos is an illustration of this feeling. In the metaphorical sense, it means to be scared or anxious. Quand je repense ร  ce film d'horreur ๐ŸŽฅ , j'en ai froid dans le dos.

  • 14) Prendre ses jambes ร  son cou is to run away in fright. Lorsque jโ€™ai vu ce gros serpent ๐Ÿ , j'ai pris mes jambes ร  mon cou. The litteral meaning can be a bit weird for non French speakers as it is: to take your legs to your neck !

  • 15) When fear petrify your all body, you would say to be scared to death - รŠtre mort de peur ๐Ÿ’€. As an example, je suis mort de peur ร  l'idรฉe de rentrer dans ce parc d'attractions abandonnรฉ (=abandoned theme park).



With all these expressions, you will be able name your emotions, but also when listening or telling a story, and generally speaking about emotions in everyday life.

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All levels are welcome. All my courses are professionally prepared - in accordance with your skillsโ€” so youโ€™ll get the results you desire. You decide how often we meet โ€” several times a day, once a week, or a single session. Please write me a short message before you request your first class with me. ใ€Cancellation Policyใ€‘ If you wish to reschedule a lesson, I would appreciate it if you could give me a notice at least 24-hour until our lesson begins. Less than a 24-hour notice would be charged as a regular lesson. No shows will be charged full price. Thank you for your understanding in advance. ร€ trรจs bientรดt, Benji Baquรฉ
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