Sometimes people will say to me, "Oh, tu parles français?" and I'll respond "Ouais, un peu, mais pas couramment."

I've always suspected this is not idiomatic, since I'm translating literally from English ("Yes, but not fluently"), which is rarely a recipe for good results.

Is this a natural phrasing, and if not, what is better?

  • 1
    Personnellement, je trouve pas que ce soit pas idiomatique Commented May 25, 2018 at 8:10

2 Answers 2


There is a one-to-one correspondance between couramment and fluently in the context of languages (couramment is also synonyme of communément and régulièrement).

Je parle français. Je parle couramment anglais.

Parler, lire, écrire couramment. Speak, read, write fluently.

Parler couramment trois langues. Speak fluently three languages.

One may use also sans difficulté.

Il parle le français sans difficulté (...ou bien avec aisance).





Τhis sentence is correct. Ιt is a rare case in French - English translation. But saying

Oui, un peu, mais pas couramment

is more polite .

Un français, comme moi, te comprendrait parfaitement avec cette phrase et te trouverait même plutôt bon ;)

  • Why do you say it’s rare? Isn’t it a fairly common thing to say? Commented May 26, 2018 at 4:07
  • What is not common is to be able to say "Ouais, un peu, mais pas couramment", and not being a fluent french speaker. By using such a familiar turn, you on the contrary express your french is very good.
    – AlainD
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 11:02

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