top of page

Spoken French and the fact of cutting words

Did you know about this trend of cutting words in spoken French? Yes, French people tend to cut words when speaking. You have certainly heard words like "Un ado, un resto, une info, des légumes bio, ..." Well this is nothing else than cutting words, the abbreviated form of words, generally used in oral conversations.

Today I will be sharing with you a list of shortened words used in spoken French that you can use in your informal conversations. They will be classified by categories.

Shortened words in Fench: words French people usually cut while speaking

Why do we need to cut words in French?

Cutting words is a common practice in the French language. They are shortcuts used in spoken French in order to simplify words that have more than 2 syllables. They aim to simplify the language and are used in informal conversations. Some will have the beginning trimmed, but most of them have their endings removed.

  • un autobus = un bus (front cutting)

  • Un appart = un appartement (End cutting)

Learning them can help you understand better informal conversations and even sound French.

Let's see the most common words and expressions that are shortened in French, with examples. The (m) placed in front of a word indicates masculine gender, the (f) expresses a feminine noun, and the (pl) means plural noun.

Common shortened words about school

🔵 Amphithéâtre (m) = un amphi

Nous avons cours d'algèbre dans l'amphi. => We have algebra class in the auditorium.

🔵 Baccalauréat (m) = bac

J'ai réussi au bac et j'ai obtenu une bourse d'études. => I passed my A level and obtained a scholarship.

🔵 Dictionnaire (m) = le Dico

Il est interdit d'utiliser un dico en classe. => It is forbidden to use a dictionary in the classroom.

🔵 Examen (m) = exam

Je dois réussir mon exam si je veux aller à l'université. => I must pass my exam if I want to go to the university.

🔵 Exercice (m) = un exo

Tu as compris cet exo? => Did you understand this exercise?

🔵 Faculté (f) = fac

On a de nouveaux profs à la fac. => We have new teacher at the university.

🔵Géographie (f) = géo

Tu aimes la géo? => Do you like geography?

🔵 Mathématiques (f, pl) = math ou maths

Tu peux m'aider avec mon devoir de math? => Can you help me with my math homework?

🔵 Professeur-e (m, f) = prof

Ma prof d'angIais est sympathique. => My English teacher is nice.

To explore more, check out our post about school vocabulary.

Cutting words related to means of transports

🔵 Autobus (m) = bus

Chaque matin, le bus de l'école arrive à 8 heures. => Every morning, the school bus arrives at 8 am.

🔵 Autocar (m) = car

Quand je vais en campagne, je prends le car. => When I go in the countryside, I take the bus.

🔵 Automobile (f) = auto

BMW est un constructeur auto allemand. => BMW is a german auto constructor.

🔵 Hélicoptère (m) = hélico

Je ne suis jamais montée dans un hélico. => I have never boarded a helicopter.

🔵 Motocyclette (f) = moto

J'adore rouler à moto. => I like to drive motorcycles.

🔵 Vélocipède = vélo (m)

Le vélo est un moyen de transport écologique. => Cycling is an environmental friendly means of transport.

To explore more, check out our post about the means of transports.

Abbreviated Words about health

To speak about health (la santé), you can use the following abbreviated words.

🔵 Biologique = bio

🔵 Dermatologue (m,f) = dermato

🔵 Hôpital (m) =hosto

🔵 kinésithérapeute (f,m) = kiné

🔵 Psychologue (m,f) = psy

🔵 Gynécologue (m,f) = gynéco

For example : "J'ai rendez avec mon gynéco à l'hosto et après je dois voir mon dermato." Meaning : I have an appointment with my gynecologist at the hospital and after, I have to see the dermatologist.

Shortcuts about sports and hobbies names

🔵 Gymnastique (f) = gym

🔵 Football (m) = foot

🔵 Volley-ball (m) = volley

🔵 basket-ball (m) = basket

🔵 Cinéma (m) = ciné

🔵 Décoration = déco

Je vais refaire la déco de ma maison.

🔵 Exposition = expo

For example : Tu aimes aller au ciné? Do you like going to the cinema?

Other casual shortened words

🔵 Actualité (f) = > actu => news

🔵 Adolescent => ado => teenager

🔵 Apéritif (m)= apéro => aperitif

🔵 Appartement = appart => apartment

🔵 Cafétéria = cafèt (cafeteria)

🔵 Hebdomadaire = hebdo (weekly)

🔵 Imperméable = imper (raincoat)

🔵 Kilogramme = kilo (kilogram)

🔵 Information = info (information, news)

🔵 Ordinateur (m) = ordi (computer)

🔵 Manifestation = manif (protest, event)

🔵 Mayonnaise = mayo (mayonese)

🔵 Photographie = photo

🔵Professionnel = PRO (professional)

🔵Promotion = promo

🔵 Récréation = récré (f) (School recess)

🔵 Restaurant = Resto, restau

🔵 Télévision = télé

🔵 Tramway = tram

🔵 Sympathique = sympa (nice, sympathetic)

Simplified expressions in spoken French

Beyond words, some expressions are simplified in the French language. Here are some of them.

🔵 le petit déjeuner = le p'tit déj' (breakfast)

🔵 l'après-midi = l'aprèm (afternoon)

🔵 du matin = du mat (in the morning : am)

🔵À plus tard = À plus ( See you later)

🔵 À tout à l'heure = à toute (See you later)

🔵 Bon appétit = bon app (Enjoy your meal)

For instance, when talking about time, you can say "Il est deux heures du mat", which means " It is 2 am".

To wrap it up

Shortened words are great in spoken French as they simplify things. The list above is just a sample as there are many others.

Looking to expand your vocabulary?

If you want to take your learning further and take live online classes with native speakers, in a structured way (CEFR standards), we recommend Lingoda, an online language school with affordable and effective live group classes and private classes. You can access the free trial here.

Our readers have a special discount of 10% on their monthly plan. Just use our link with the code CHANTY10.

And if you love movies and want to develop your vocabulary and pronunciation, Lingopie might work well for you. With the subtitles and flashcards features they have, it's a funny way of improving your vocabulary.


bottom of page