How to Say “You Can” in French

When learning a foreign language like French, it’s essential to know how to express the phrase “you can.” This phrase is incredibly useful in various contexts, allowing you to express ability, permission, and many more concepts. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the different ways to say “you can” in French, including formal and informal expressions. Let’s dive in!

Formal Expressions to Say “You Can” in French

In formal situations, such as talking to someone you don’t know well or speaking to an authority figure, you should use more polite and respectful phrases when expressing “you can.” Here are some formal expressions to help you communicate effectively:

1. Pouvez-vous

The most common and polite way to say “you can” in French is by using the phrase “Pouvez-vous.” This expression is especially fitting when seeking permission or asking for someone’s ability to perform a specific task. For instance:

“Excusez-moi, pouvez-vous m’aider?” — “Excuse me, can you help me?”

2. Serait-il possible de

Another formal expression for “you can” is “Serait-il possible de.” This phrase is more indirect but polite, making it suitable for formal requests:

“Serait-il possible de m’envoyer plus d’informations?” — “Would it be possible for you to send me more information?”

Informal Expressions to Say “You Can” in French

In informal situations, such as talking to friends, colleagues, or family members, you can use less formal expressions to say “you can.” Here are some commonly used informal expressions:

1. Tu peux

“Tu peux” is the informal way to say “you can” in French. This expression is suitable when talking to friends, siblings, or someone younger than you:

“Tu peux venir chez moi après l’école?” — “Can you come to my house after school?”

2. Vous pouvez

“Vous pouvez” is the formal way of saying “you can,” but it can also be used as a polite and respectful expression in informal situations. This makes it a versatile choice that can be used with acquaintances or older individuals:

“Vous pouvez me donner ton numéro de téléphone?” — “Can you give me your phone number?”

Variations of “You Can” in French

The French language has variations in different regions, and expressions can differ slightly. Here are a few regional variations of “you can” in French:

1. “Tu peux” vs. “Tu peux bien”

In some regions, adding “bien” after “tu peux” emphasizes the ability or willingness to perform a task:

“Tu peux bien m’aider avec mes devoirs?” — “Can you please help me with my homework?”

2. “Tu peux” vs. “Tu sais”

In certain areas, natives use “tu sais” (meaning “you know”) instead of “tu peux” to indicate the ability to do something:

“Tu sais jouer du piano?” — “Can you play the piano?”

Tips and Examples

Here are some extra tips and examples to help you further understand how to use “you can” in French:


  • Pay attention to the level of formality in your conversations to choose the appropriate expression.
  • When in doubt, it’s generally safer to use a more formal expression.
  • Observe the native speakers around you to grasp regional variations.
  • Practice using different expressions to get comfortable with their nuances.


  • “Est-ce que je peux emprunter ton stylo?” — “Can I borrow your pen?”
  • “Puis-je utiliser votre ordinateur?” — “May I use your computer?”
  • “Peux-tu me rappeler à quelle heure nous devons nous retrouver demain?” — “Can you remind me at what time we’re supposed to meet tomorrow?”
Leave comment