Il a faim!
The verb “avoir” – “to have” in English – is sprinkled throughout the French language. Once you've gotten past basic greetings in French, you'll find yourself needing more and more expressions that require the verb avoir.
While it’s very common for beginners to rely on word-for-word translation from English into French, the fact is that this isn’t a reliable strategy. French people don’t translate; they simply speak French.
English-speakers will often make the mistake of saying things like “Je suis 25 ans” or “Je suis chaud”, direct word-for-word translations from English. Unfortunately, direct translations like this are often incorrect. They sound as strange to French-speakers as “I have 25 years” or “I have hot” would sound to English-speakers. Remember – speaking another language isn’t about translating words. It’s about communicating ideas!
If you want to be able to converse comfortably and fluently with French natives, then learning some of these expressions will help you get closer to your goal!
avoir ___ ans
to have ___ years / to be ___ years old
C’est la fête de ma fille. Elle a cinq ans aujourd’hui!
It’s my daughter’s birthday. She’s five years old today!
to have pain (usually followed by à/au/aux + body part)
J’ai mal à la tête. Je vais me coucher de bonne heure ce soir.
I have a headache. I’m going to bed early tonight.
to be hot / to feel hot
Le garçon a enlevé son manteau parce qu’il avait chaud.
The boy took off his coat because he was hot.
to be cold / to feel cold
J’ai froid. Où sont mes mitaines?
I’m cold. Where are my mittens?
to be hungry (to have hunger)
Le bébé n’arrête pas de pleurer. Je pense qu’il a faim.
The baby won’t stop crying. I think that he’s hungry.
to be thirsty / to have thirst
Le chien a soif après cette longue promenade.
The dog is thirsty after that long walk.
avoir peur de
to be afraid of / to have fear of
Il ne voulait pas dormir seul. Il avait trop peur des fantômes!
He didn’t want to sleep alone. He was too afraid of ghosts!
avoir besoin de
to need / to have need of
Tu as besoin d’appeler au bureau avant de partir.
You have to call the office before leaving.
to be right
Il avait raison. Je n’aurais pas dû dépenser tout mon argent.
He was right. I shouldn’t have spent all of my money.
to be wrong
Non, tu as tort.
No, you’re wrong.
avoir l'habitude de
to have the habit of
J’ai l’habitude de prendre un café le matin.
I have the habit of drinking a coffee in the morning.
avoir le temps de
to have the time to
Aurez-vous le temps de terminer votre rapport avant la fin de semaine?
Will you have time to finish your report before the weekend?
to seem / to have the appearance of
Tu as l’air très fatigué ce matin.
You seem very tired this morning.
It’s important to learn expressions – such as the ones in this article – so that you, too, can speak French, rather than simply saying English words in another language.