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Assorted 'useful' foreign phrases

These phrases come mainly from phrasebooks and language courses. Some of them are intended to illustrate particular grammatical points, others I just found amusing. Finding occasions to use them might be quite challenging, but you'll probably have fun trying. Maybe you could use them as ice breakers, chat-up lines, as part of a comedy routine, or for some surreal conversations.


Куды зьнiклi ўсе мае грошы? (Kudy z'nikli use maje hrošy?)
Where did all my money disappear to?

Калi ласка, пакладзiце мне паболей бульбы. (Kali laska, pakladzice mne pabolej bul'by.)
More potatoes, please.



Sot oc'h gant ar binîoù?
Are you fond of bagpipes?

Gouzout a ran ober krampouezh.
I know how to make pancakes.



Gusto kung mosakay sa kabaw.
I want to ride on a water buffalo.



ᎯᎳᎢᏴ ᎬᏂᏍᎪ ᎫᏩᏯ (hilaiyv gvnisgo guwaya)
When do huckleberries get ripe?

ᏒᎩ ᎢᎾᎨᎡᎯ ᎩᏂᏯᎷᎦ (svgi inageehi giniyaluga)
Let's go hunt for some wild onions.


Chinese (Mandarin)

(fǎndòngpài zǒng yǐwéi zìjǐ liǎobuqǐ, qíshí bùguò shì zhǐlǎohǔ)
The reactionaries always think they are terrific, but in fact they are just paper tigers.



An teeack reeg derevall kea.
The farmer is building a hedge.

Yma pluven a-ji dhe'n lyver.
There's a pen inside the book.

Eus jynn-skrifa war an desk?
Is there a typewriter on the desk?

An byskadoryon yw parys lemmyn.
The fishermen are ready now.



Muž se rozhoduje pro žárovku.
The man is deciding on a light bulb.

V našem pokoji je hmyz.
There are insects in our room

Kdy jede dalši vznášedlo do Brna?
When is the next hovercraft to Brno?



Hvor er den nærmeste rutsjebane?
Where is the nearest roller-coaster?

Jeg er allergisk over for muskatnød
I am allergic to nutmeg.



Het strijkijzer is aan, wees voorzichtig.
The iron is on, be careful.

Ik ben uitgegleden over een bananenschil.
I slipped on the banana peel.

Waar zijn de lepels en de vorken van de zoon?
Where are the spoons and the forks of the son?

Serveert u ook rabarber in dit restaurant?
Do you serve rhubarb in this restaurant?

Dat is de derde keer deze week dat één van de patienten spontaan is geëxplodeerd.
That is the third time this week that one of the patients has spontaneously exploded.



Kiom kostas tiu hundeto en la fenestro?
How much is that doggie in the window?

Mi volas brakumi tiun sciuron.
I want to hug that squirrel.

Bonvolu alsendi la pordiston? Laŭŝajne estas rano en mia bideo!
Could you please send for the hall porter? There appears to be a frog in my bidet!

Kiu kuraĝas rajdi sur leono?
Who has the courage to ride on a lion?

Fremdulo, diru, kiu kaj el kie vi estas.
Foreigner, say who you are and where you're from.

La fera bastono, kiu kuŝis en la forno, estas nun brule varmega.
The iron rod, which is lying in the furnace, is now burning hot.

Kia granda brulo!
What a big conflagration!

Fi, kiel abomene!
For shame, how abominable!

Li estas tiel dika, ke li ne povas trairi tra nia mallarĝa pordo.
He is so fat that he can't go through our narrow door

Tiu ĉi malfreŝa pano estas malmola, kiel ŝtono.
This stale bread is as hard as rock.

Mi ne volis trinki la vinon, ĉar ĝi enhavis en si ian suspektan malklaraĵon.
I didn't want to drink the wine because it had in it some kind of suspicious opaqueness.




Mielestäni teillä on söpö presidentti.
I think you have a cute president.

Käyhän että tuon kannettavani saunaan?
Is it OK if I bring my laptop in the sauna?

Oho! Tota noin ... Eihän se vaa ollu' sun ajokoira?
I'm awfully sorry ... was that your ferret?




Il y a un singe qui vole dans l'arbre.
There's a flying monkey in the tree.

Où est le placard?
Where's the wardrobe?

Je vais demander à ces paysans qui viennent au-devant de nous, si le chemin par où ils ont passé est mauvais.
I shall ask these peasants who are coming towards us, if the road by which they have come is bad

Je suis desolé de vous quitter, mais je dois acheter un chapeau.
I am sorry I have to leave you, but I must buy a hat.



Wo kann ich einen Tierarzt finden?
Where can I find a vet?

Wir wollen Ihre Kühe und Schafe sehen.
We want to see your cows and sheep.

Ich bin kein Teilnehmer dieser Konferenz, dennoch möchte ich einen Pinguin.
I am not a conference delegate, nevertheless I would like a penguin.

Kocht die Magd die Blätter?
Is the maid boiling the leaves?

Die kleine Tochter des dicken Bäckers gab dem klugen Neffen des alten Schneiders einen Brief. The fat baker's little daughter gave the old tailor's clever nephew a letter.

Ich werde die Bauern, die da auf uns zukommen, fragen, ob die Straße, auf der sie gekommen sind, schlecht ist.
I shall ask these peasants who are coming towards us, if the road by which they have come is bad

Nein, aber vielen Dank für Ihr freundliches Angebot.
No, but thank you for your kind offer.

Ich möchte kein Gas, können Sie es mit Kokain machen?
(at the dentist) I don't like gas, can you do it with cocaine?

Ich glaube, ich bin mit den Nerven herunter und ganz auf den Hund gekommen.
I think I'm done in and going to the dogs.

Für so einen kleinen Mann hast Du aber sehr grosse Nasenlöcher!
You have very large nostrils for such a small gentleman.

Keine Elephanten in der Bar nach 8 Uhr!
Elephants are not permitted in the bar after eight o'clock.


Greek (Ancient)

Άβρως χορευσουσιν αἱ γυναικες περι το δενδρον.
(Abrōs khoreusousin ai gunaikes peri to dendron.)
The women will dance delicately round the tree.

Greek (Modern)

Ο δρακος επιμενει να θυσιάσουν μια κοπελα αλλιως θα καψει το χωριο.
(O drakos epimenei na thysiásoun mia kopela allios tha kapsei to chorio.)
The dragon insists we sacrifice a maiden otherwise he will burn the village to the ground.



Sgíw uu hl xiláadaang.
I am drying some seaweed.



Ha'aheo no paha 'oe i kena papale kupalaka, pehea la.
You must be very proud of your large hat.



यह आदमी चालाक लगता हैं।
Yah ādmī cālāk lagtā haĩ.
This man appears to be cunning.

आपके मेज़ के नीचे बिल्ली है।
Āpke mez ke nīce billī hai.
There is a cat under your table.

मैं सिर्फ़ बंगाली गीत गा सकता हुँ।
Maĩ sirf Bangālī gīt gā saktā hũ.
I can only sing Bengali songs.

आपको कित्ना आटा चाहिए?
Āpko kitnā āṭā cāhie?
How much flour do you want?

मेरा दुघवाला बेईमान है।
Merā dūdhvālā beīmān hai.
My milkman is dishonest.



Miért nevet - annyira rosszul beszélek magyarul?
Why are you laughing - is my Hungarian that bad?



Veistu um bílalúgu þar sem ég get keypt svið og jarðepplamauk?
Do you know about a drive-through where I can buy a take-out sheep’s head and mashed potatoes?



Maaf, Nona. Ada bebek di atas kepala anda.
Excuse me miss, there's a duck on your head.


Irish (Gaelic)

Pionta Guinnes le do thoil.
A pint of Guinness, please.

Tá póit orm
I have a hangover.

Nár fhág sé a chlaíomh ar an mbord?
Didn't he leave his sword on the table?

Ar thit Bricriu ar an gcarn bruscair?
Did Bricriu fall on the rubbish heap?



Voglio chiedere a quei contadini che vengono alla volta nostra, se per dove sono passati, è cattiva la strada.
I shall ask these peasants who are coming towards us, if the road by which they have come is bad

Io sono il bufone dall’incredibile faccia.
I am the clown with the incredible face.

La migrazione dell'anguilla europea è un mistero per la scienza.
The migratory pattern of the european eel is a mystery to science.

Non ricordo il prezzo della carta da lettere.
I don't recall the price of a box of stationery

Se devi tagliarti le unghie dei piedi, vai via dalla cucina, per favore.
If you must clip your toenails now, kindly leave the kitchen.



Ch'est eune vaque Jèrriaise!
It's a Jersey cow!



ಪುತಕ ವುರಲ್ಲಿ ಇದೆಯಾ?
Putaka vuradalli ideyā?
Is the book in the tree?

ಅದು ಬಾಗಿಲಾ ಕಿಟಿಕಿಯಾ?
Adu bāgilā kiṭikiyā?
Is that a door or a window?



Šúŋkawakĥáŋ kiŋ lé iwáču kte.
I will take this horse.

Ziškópela waŋží wačhíŋ.
I want a banana.

Wíŋyaŋ oĥ’áŋniwašte.
You are a woman of good manners.



Si hoc legere scis, nimium eruditionis habes.
If you can read this, you have too much education.

Estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre?
Is that a scroll in your toga, or are you just happy to see me?

Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert.
Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.



.i xu do ba'o kavbu lo pavyseljirna / .i xu do kavbu lo pavyseljirna ba'o
Have you caught that Unicorn yet?



Liema karozza tal-linja rrid naqbad għall-baħar?
Which bus should I catch for the seaside?

Fi x'ħin jiftaħ il-mużew?
At what time does the museum open?


Manx (Gaelic)

Vel oo er chur sheese yn skeddan ayd foast mleeaney?
Have you salted your herring this year yet?

Ta'n aspick scughey dy tessanagh.
The bishop moves diagonally.



Unnskyld, Frøken, kunne De fortelle meg hvor i nærheten jeg kan få kjøpt et forkle?
Excuse me, miss, could you please tell me where around here I might buy an apron? (Riksmål)


Old Norse

ᛁᚴ᛬ᛋᛁ᛬ᛋᚢᛅᚴᛅᚾ᛬ᛘᛅᚾ᛬ᛏᛅᚴᛅ᛬ᚢᛋᛏ (Ek sé svangan mann taka ost)
I see a hungry man take some cheese.

ᛏᚢᛁᚱᚴᛅᚱᚾᛁᚱ᛬ᚠᚢᚱᛅ᛬ᚴᚢᚾᚢᚴᛁᚾᚢᛘ᛬ᚴᚢᛚᛏᛅᚾ᛬ᛒᛅᚢᚴ (Dvergarnir foera konunginum gylltan baug)
The dwarves bring the king a golden ring.



Te dzieci siedzą pod tym drzewem i uczą się fizyki.
The children are sitting under the tree and learning physics.

Nikt nie interesuje się współczesną poezją na tej wyspie.
Nobody's interested in modern poetry on the island.



Entrou na casa e viu os chapéus no benguleiro.
He entered the house and saw the hats in the hat stand.

Onde é a embaixada timorense mais próxima?
Where is the nearest East Timorese embassy?

Eu queria um outro pedacinho de Apfelstrudel, por favor.
I would like another piece of Apfelstrudel, please.

Eu queria meu cafezinho só um pouquinho mais quentinho.
I would like my coffee a little hotter.

Luís argüia à Júlia que «brações, fé, chá, óxido, pôr, zângão» eram palavras do português. Luís argued to Júlia that "big arms, faith, tea, oxide, to put, bee" were Portuguese words. (includes all the letters of the Portuguese alphabet)

A cama do meu marido está cheia de areia preta. Porquê?
My husband's bed is full of black sand. Why?



Yulmanye miruvóreva alantie talanna. Nyerinyes.
My cup of miruvor has fallen to the floor. I am sorry.



Îmi poţi împrumuta puţin spatula ta?
Can I borrow your spatula?

Cu cana poţi să bei lapte, dar cu pisica nu poţi să tai lemne
You can drink milk with a cup, but you can't cut wood with a cat.



Помогите! Мне нужен холодильник! (Pomogite! Mne nužen holodil'nik!)
Help! I need a refrigerator!

Борода вам очень идёт. (Boroda vam ochen' idjot)
That beard suits you very well.

В нашем лесу много медведей. (V našem lesu mnogo medvedej)
There are many bears in our forest.

Мама, я хочу змею. (Mama, ya khochu zmeyu.)
Mum, I want a snake.



Ua o'u sau e fa'atau le pua.
I have come to sell a pig.

Pe avatu ai lau seleni?
Shall I give you a shilling for it?

O'u te fa'atau talo e mata tolu.
I have thirty heads of taro to sell.

Pe tele ni lupe i le vao nei?
Are there many pigeons in this bush?


Scottish Gaelic

Cò an caora sin còmhla riut a chunnaic mi an-raoir?
Who was that sheep I saw you with last night?

Cha b'e sin caora, 'se sin mo chèile a bha innte!
That was no sheep, that was my spouse!

Dè th'ort fo d'fhèileadh?
What do you wear under your kilt?

An toir thu dhomh pòg?
Will you give me a kiss?



Моја тетка нe воли сир, али одлично свира саксофон
(Moja tetka ne voli sir, ali odlično svira saksofon)
My aunt hates cheese, but she plays saxophone quite well



儂个衣帽勿整齊 (Noong-kuh i-mau 'veh tsung-si)
Your clothes and hat are untidy



Man i ven na Imladris?
Which way is it to Rivendell?

Gîl síla erin lû e-govaded vín.
A star shines upon the hour of our meeting.



Imate knjigo "Orgle na Slovenskem" v angleščini?
Do you sell the book "Pipe Organs in Slovenia" in English?



Hay niebla en Barcelona
There is fog in Barcelona

Busque un plomero en seguida.
Fetch a plumber immediately.

¿Ha visto usted al mozo número diez?
Have you seen porter number ten?

Es una cara dura.
She has a lot of nerve (cheek).

¿Puedo verlo a la luz del día?
May I see this by daylight?

Quisiera comer como un rey
I want to eat like a king

No me importa mirar, pero prefiero no participar
I don't mind watching, but I'd rather not join in

Tu ego está fuera de control
Your ego is out of control

El burro sabe mas que tú
The donkey knows more than you

Discúlpame ¿te importa si te miro un rato? Quiero recordar tu cara en mis sueños.
Excuse me, do you mind if I stare at you for a minute? I want to remember your face for my dreams.

Dame los cables de arranque (de batería), los pollos se han escapado.
Hand me the jump leads, the chickens have escaped.



Safisha viatu yangu mara moja!
Clean my boots at once!

Huyu mchawi, ona chura katika kifuko yake!
That man is a witch-doctor, see the frog in his pocket!

Mimi naogopa nyoka, funga milango
I am afraid of snakes, fasten the door



Mitt huvud trillar av och det är fullt av godis.
My head falls off and it is full of candy.

Vart tog vägen vägen? Vi åker på en åker!
Where did the road go? We are traveling on a field!

De jättelika kräftorna försöker ta över Jorden!
The giant crayfishes are attempting to conquer The Earth!

Idag har jag cyklat ned i skorstenarna.
I've cycled down the chimneys today.

Person who teaches engineers who work at communal schools to put the top piece on flagpoles

Min igelkott är inte dum eller söt.
My hedgehog is not stupid or cute.

Alla heter Glenn i Göteborg.
All the people of Gothenburg are called Glenn.



'Ua haru te 'iore iti i te pata pa'ari i roto i tō'u mereti.
The mouse stole the cheese from my plate.



நீ ஒரு மேனச செய்வாயா?
(nī rimauca cēnayvāyā)
Can you make a table?

Source: Phrase book, or, Idiomatic exercises in English and Tamil. Arranged under serveral heads, with an index (Jaffna Book Society, 1841)



Nga khenpo jel-dö yö.
I'd like to meet the abbot.

Nga saymong chig gö.
I need a squirrel.

Gongta di ngay chöloogdâng tüngee mindu.
I'm sorry, it's against my religion.



Dansöz olan bir yer var mı?
Is there anywhere we can go to see belly-dancing?

Lütfen pantolonunuzu verin.
Please give me your trousers.



مير بندر چابي چينت حي
(Mera bandar chabbi cheenta hai)
My monkey steals my keys.



Gorbachevning boshida katta tug'ma xoli bor.
There is a large birthmark on Gorbachev's head.



Mae dafad wedi bwyta fy mrechdanau!
A sheep has eaten my sandwiches!

Fydd Iago ddim yn prynu petrol yfory.
James will not be buying petrol tomorrow.

Mae'n brydgell ac mae'r brochgim stwd / Yn gimblo a gyrian yn y mhello.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

For the Jaberwocky text in English plus translations and parodies see:


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