Sometimes when someone goes through something the only thing that you’re able to do to help them is to wish them “good luck”. However there is more to wishing someone “good luck” than these two words as the context of the situation dictates exactly how you go about doing it.
In this article, we are going to give you all the different ways you can wish someone “good luck” in French and in which situations to use them.
Using Bonne Chance to Wish Someone Good Luck in French
Bonne chance is by far the most common way to say “good luck” in French. The great thing about it is that it’s very easy for English speakers to understand as it literally means “good luck” (bonne = good, chance = luck). You can easily use it on its own by simply saying bonne chance to someone, or you can put it into a more complete sentence.
In order to do so you typically use the words pour, avec, or dans. The one that you need to use depends on what you are wishing someone “good luck” for.
You’ll use pour if you are wishing someone “good luck” for something that isn’t tangible. You’ll also see it often used for something that is coming up in the future. Take a look at the below examples…
Bonne chance pour l’avenir – Good luck for the future
Bonne chance pour votre retraite – Good luck with your retirement
Using avec with bonne chance is most common for things that are tangible such as an object.
Bonne chance avec ton grand-père – Good luck with your grandfather (it should already be clear as to why you are wishing someone good luck in this instance.)
Bonne chance avec ton chat – Good luck with your cat (again, the context should be clear as to why you’re wishing someone good luck with their cat.)
Using dans with bonne chance is more or less the same thing as using pour. You’ll often see it with things that are already going on such as someone’s studies or work. This isn’t a hard rule however.
Bonne chance dans tes études – Good luck with your studies
Bonne chance dans votre travail – Good luck with your work
It’s really important to understand that when it comes to this stuff even the French themselves debate on the rules. It’s best that you don’t get completely locked into one way because as soon as you do you’ll hear a native-speaker use it a different way.
Using Je vous souhaite bonne chance to wish someone good luck in french
The only real difference bonne chance and Je vous souhaite bonne chance is that the latter means “I wish you good luck”. It’s more formal than simply bonne chance and probably isn’t something you would use too often with your close friends.
You also have to make sure that you change out who you are wishing “good luck” seeing as vous just means “you”.
Je lui souhaite bonne chance pour son entretien d’embauche – I wish him/her good luck for his/her job interview
Je vous souhaite bonne chance dans vos projets à venir – I wish you good luck for your future plans
Another related way of saying this is Je vous souhaite de réussir which means “I wish for you to succeed”. When you break it down you’re really just wishing someone “good luck”, but are using different words to do so.
Je vous souhaite de réussir dans les affaires – I wish for you to succeed in business
Je vous souhaite de réussir dans cette nouvelle aventure – I wish for you to succeed in this new adventure
Using Merde to wish good luck in French
For those who are big into theater you’ll know that when wishing someone “good luck” on a performance you say “break a leg”. The idea behind this is that it’s bad luck to wish someone good luck so you “wish” for something really bad to happen to them.
The same idea exists in French except instead of telling someone to “break a leg” you say merde (literally sh*t).
Although its origins come from theater performances it doesn’t have to only be used for these types of situations. There isn’t really a rule as to when you can and can’t use it, but you’ll see it most often when talking about school tests or when giving speeches.
It may go without saying, but this is only to be used in the most informal of situations. Never use this with anyone that you should show respect.
Merde pour ton examen – Good luck on your exam
Merde pour ton permis – Good luck on getting your driver’s license
If the context is already clear then you can simply say merde.
Using bon courage to wish good luck in French
Not every situation where you wish someone “good luck” has to be informal. Bon courage is what you would use when you want to wish someone “good luck” for something that’s a little more serious.
Literally translated as “good courage” bon courage is for situations where someone needs encouragement. You could absolutely translate it by saying “good luck”, but you could also translate it by saying “hang in there” or “keep a stiff upper lip”.
Bon courage pour ton opération – Good luck with your operation
Bon courage pour ton déménagement – Good luck with your move
It’s not 100% necessary to use bon courage for serious situations as you’ll often hear it used for less serious situations that people jokingly make more serious.
Tu rencontres les parents de ta copine pour la première fois ce soir ? Bon courage ! – You’re meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time this evening? Good luck!
Using je croise les doigts to wish good luck
Je croise les doigts (translated as “I cross my fingers”) can be used when you are hoping for the best for someone (including yourself) in a given situation. It’s not at all uncommon for people to literally cross their fingers while saying it.
As with many of the other expressions on this list je croise les doigts can be used by itself if the context allows it or can be placed in a more complete sentence.
Je croise les doigts pour que tout se passe bien – I’m crossing my fingers for everything to go well (fingers crossed that things go well)
Je croise les doigts pour mes amis – I’m crossing my fingers for my friends (the context should make it clear why)
Using Je touche du bois to wish good luck in french
Je touche du bois doesn’t mean “good luck” in as much as it means that you currently are in some sort of fortunate situation and are wanting it to continue. It’s essentially the French equivalent to “knock on wood” if you live in the United States or “touch wood” if you live in the United Kingdom. If there is anything made of wood nearby people will often touch it while saying je touche du bois, otherwise they will just touch their head.
Mon entreprise va très bien, je touche du bois – My business is going very well, knock on wood
Tout va bien pour l’instant, je touche du bois – Everything is going well for the time being, knock on wood
You can also say to someone touche du bois (knock on wood / touch wood) if they don’t say it themselves.
Using je touche la peau du singe to wish good luck in french
This one is an expression that is said to come from the North of France and is for the most part an equivalent to je touche du bois. When translated literally it means “to touch the monkey’s skin”. Some people say that when using this expression you’re supposed to put your hand on your head whereas others will say you’re supposed to put your hand on someone else’s head.
Although the meaning remains the same you may see this one used in others forms including je touche de la peau de singe, je touche du singe and even je touche une peau de singe.
Just use this one as you would use je touche du bois. Sometimes people even use both and say je touche du bois et de la peau de singe.
Using meilleurs vœux to wish good luck in french
Meilleurs vœux is commonly used in situations such as weddings or birthdays to mean “best wishes”. This isn’t always the case though. You’ll also see it a lot in December around the holidays as a way to say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”. It’s no doubt one of the more formal ways to wish someone luck on this list.
Meilleurs vœux pour votre mariage – Best wishes for your marriage (wishing someone good luck for their marriage)
Acceptez mes meilleurs vœux de santé – Accept my best wishes for your health (wishing someone good luck with their health)
Using Que to wish good luck in french
This may very well be the most formal way of wishing someone luck on this list. You can think of it like the English equivalent to “may…” as in “May your day be blessed”.
Because this one is considered formal if you do happen to use it with your close friends they may think you’re being silly or ingenuine. If that’s your goal then by all means say it, but if you are actually wanting to be serious then you should probably use something else.
Que votre séjour se passe bien – May your trip go well (essentially wishing someone well on their trip)
Que votre vie soit remplie de bonheur – May your life be filled with happiness (essentially wishing for someone to have happiness in their life)
The only other thing that should really be brought up about this one is that the verb that comes after Que must be in the subjunctive tense. If you aren’t comfortable with the French subjunctive then avoid using this one even if the context warrants it.
Using J'ai de la chance to say I'm lucky
Sometimes you don’t need to wish someone “good luck” because they already have it. If you yourself are lucky then you can say j’ai de la chance which literally means “I have luck”. Its real translation is “I’m lucky” however.
Il a de la chance d’avoir une femme qui l’aime autant – He’s lucky to have a wife who loves him so much
Tu as de la chance d’être vivant – You are lucky to be alive
Using je suis chanceux / euse to say I'm lucky
Another way of saying “I’m lucky” is to say je suis chanceux if you’re male or je suis chanceuse if you’re female. Although this one is used less often than j’ai de la chance it’s definitely easier for the average English speaker to understand because it literally means “I am lucky”.
Il est chanceux de t’avoir – He is lucky to have you
Nous sommes chanceux qu’il ne soit pas fâché – We are lucky that he isn’t mad
Chanceux can also be used to describe someone.
Mon oncle est quelqu’un de chanceux – My uncle is someone lucky
You will no doubt hear j’ai de la chance more in France, however you’ll hear je suis chanceux more in Québec. Keep this in mind if you’re ever visiting either location.
Using ça me porte chance to say that brings me luck
Some people believe that certain things such as objects can bring them luck. Usually an object that brings someone good luck is known as un porte-bonheur (a good luck charm). Although really anything that you feel brings you luck can be a good luck charm, some commonly known ones are un trèfle de quatre feuilles (a four-leaf clover) and une patte de lapin (a rabbit’s foot).
If you have something that brings you luck you can say ça me porte chance (literally that brings me luck). You can of course replace ça (that) with the object that brings you luck.
Ma casquette me porte chance – My cap brings me luck
Son bracelet lui porte chance – His bracelet brings him luck
You now should be that much more prepared to wish someone “good luck” in French no matter the circumstances. Hopefully you can now go out and use it on your own. If you feel you’re ready, bonne chance !