French Language Blog

On t’aime, Paris! Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Uncategorized, Vocabulary

I was left shocked, like so many people around the world, after the attacks on Paris last week. These attacks certainly hit “close to home” for me, as my husband’s family lives in Paris and we have many friends there. The initial shock soon turned to fear for the safety of our loved ones, and then relief when we found out they were all safe. But not everyone was so lucky, and my heart goes out to everyone who lost a friend or a loved one in these heinous attacks.

In light of the 129 people who lost their lives on November 13, I’d like to spend some time on expressing sympathy to those who grief in French. Perhaps you know someone who was personally affected by the attacks. Perhaps you can take some of the phrases from this post and post it on Facebook, addressing it to all who are grieving due to the Paris attacks. Whatever you do, learning how to give your condolences in French is an important part of reaching out and nurturing relationships with French speakers in your life.

In French, to offer your condolences, you would say: je vous présente mes condoléances. Often, you can also envoyez une carte de condoléances (send a sympathy card). In French, there are different formulas for offering your condolences depending on whether you have a close relationship with those who are grieving or if it is part of a more formal relationship. Here are some heartfelt expressions of sympathy, in both the formal and informal registers, that you can offer to those experiencing grief:

Je suis de tout coeur avec toi/vous en ces moments difficiles. (My heart is with you during these difficult moments) — This would be directed to close friends and family and is an intimate expression of sympathy.

En ces moments si tristes, je tenais à vous témoigner mon affection. (In this sad time, I wanted to express my affection for you) — This, too, is for a close friend and is a less formal expression of sympathy.

C’est avec une grande tristesse que j’ai appris le décès/la disparition de… (It is with great sadness that I learned about the passing of…)

Je suis/nous sommes profondément ému/s par ce deuil qui vous frappe. (I am/we are profoundly saddened by this grief that you are feeling) –Yet another intimate expression of sympathy.

Je vous prie de bien vouloir accepter mes sincères condoléances (Please accept my most sincere condolences)–This is a more formal expression of sympathy best reserved for those you are not very close with or with whom you have a business relationship.

Veuillez recevoir mes condoléances les plus sincères et croire en mes respectueux sentiments.(Please accept my most sincere condolences and have faith in my respectful feelings) — Although this phrase seems strange to English speakers, it is a common, albeit formal, expression of sympathy.


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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at A la prochaine!