If you want to make your French sound more authentic, one place to start is with your vocabulary. In French classes, you tend to learn the most common, basic terms. The adverb très is one example of a very common word that can be replaced by any of a number of synonyms, in both normal and informal registers. Take a look at this lesson to learn some different ways to say "very," and be sure to note the differences in intensity.
Each section includes the synonyms used in a sentence in French followed by the English translation of the sentence.
Tres, Assez, and Bien
Use très when you want to emphasize something. You can use très in front of adjectives, adverbs, and even certain nouns, such as those that refer to feelings but use avoir-"to be."
- Il est très intelligent. > He is very smart.
- J'ai très faim. > I am very hungry.
Use assez, which translates as "quite" or "rather," when your meaning is more nuanced.
- Je suis assez fatigué. > I'm rather tired.
- La situation est assez inquiétante. > The situation is quite worrisome.
Bien, which translates as very or quite, also provides a more nuanced meaning, as these examples show:
- C'est bien simple. > It's quite simple.
- Nous sommes bien contents. > We're very happy.
- Tenez-vous bien droit. > Stand up very straight.
Going Beyond "Very"
French has several synonyms for très that create a greater emphasis than simply saying "very," including the French adverbs for exceptionally, extraordinarily, extremely, and others as these examples show:
Exceptionnellement > exceptionally
- C'était exceptionnellement difficile. > It was exceptionally difficult.
- La situation est exceptionnellement complexe. > The situation is exceptionally complicated.
Note that exceptionnellement is a semi-false cognate, as it can also describe something as an exception to the norm, as in:
- Exceptionnellement, je vous en parlerai > Just this once I will talk to you about it.
Extraordinairement > extraordinarily
- Elle est extraordinairement anxieuse. > She is extraordinarily anxious.
- Il a des cheveux extraordinairement frisés. > He has extraordinarily curly hair.
Extraordinairement can also mean "in a bizarre way," as in:
- Elle est vêtue extraordinairement. > She is dressed very strangely.
Extrêmement > extremely
- Il est extrêmement beau. > He is extremely handsome.
- Elle est extrêmement intelligente. > She is extremely intelligent.
Fort > most, very
This use is formal and somewhat old-fashioned.
- J'en serais fort content > I would be most pleased about that.
- C'est une histoire fort triste. > It's a very sad story.
Hautement > highly, very
- Il est hautement qualifié. > He is highly qualified.
- Ce livre est hautement recommandé. > This book is highly recommended.
Infiniment > infinitely, immensely
- Je vous suis infiniment reconnaissant. > I am infinitely grateful (to you).
- Cette pièce est infiniment longue. > This play is immensely long.
Tout > quite, very
- Je suis tout étonné. > I'm quite surprised.
- Il est tout rouge. > He's all/very red.
Tout à fait - completely, totally
- C'est tout à fait normal. > It's totally normal.
- Je suis tout à fait d'accord. > I agree completely.
Trop > too, very
- Vous êtes trop aimable. > You are too kind.
- Elle est trop mignonne. > She is too cute.
Note that trop technically means "too" rather than "very," but it can be used like "too" in English when it means "so very" rather than "excessively."
French offers a surprising variety of synonyms for très. If you want to spice up your French a bit, check out the following ways to say "very" in this Romance language.
Vraiment > really, very
- Je suis vraiment fatigué. > I'm really tired.
- Elle est vraiment belle. > She is really beautiful.
Bougrement - terribly, really
- Tu vas bougrement vite. > You're going terribly fast.
- Cette classe est bougrement difficile. > This class is really/bloody difficult
Drôlement > awfully, terribly, really
- Ton film est drôlement bon. > Your movie is awfully good.
- C'est drôlement difficile. > It's really difficult. (UK) It isn't half difficult.
Follement > incredibly
- C'était follement intéressant. > It was incredibly interesting.
- Il est follement amusant. > He is really very funny.
Hyper > really, mega
- Elle est hyper sympa, cette nana. > That girl is really nice.
- C'est hyper important. > It's mega important.
Joliment > really
- On est joliment bien ici. > We're doing really well here; This is a really good place/situation for us.
- Il était joliment en retard. > He was really late.
Rudement > really, terribly
- Ton chapeau est rudement moche. > Your hat is really ugly.
- C'est rudement bon que… > It's really good that…
Vachement > really, (UK) bloody
- C'est vachement difficile! > It's really/bloody difficult!
- C'est vachement important pour moi. > It's really important to me.