If you find yourself saying beaucoup… beaucoup and you want to add some variety to your French so you don’t say the same thing over and over again then this lesson is for you.
I’m going to give you 4 natural alternatives to beaucoup and 1 correction of a common mistake in everyday and informal French that English speakers make.
Keep on reading, or watch the video, to learn more. C’est parti !
Alors, let’s start with the alternatives and number 1 is plein de.
- J’ai plein de trucs à faire cette semaine. Je suis débordé.
- I have a lot of things to do this week. I’m snowed under.
- J’ai plein d’idées mais pas assez de temps.
- I have a lot of ideas but not enough time.
This one is classed as assez familier by WordReference which means quite informal but since most of my interactions are in environments where that’s the norm, I use it all the time in place of beaucoup de. In fact, all of the words I’ll share with you are either classed as courant meaning standard or familier: informal.
If you’re uncertain of whether or not you can use informal or fairly informal in your specific interactions, stick with beaucoup.
Back to plein de and I find that thinking of it as plenty of can help this one to stick:
- Plein de trucs à faire. Plenty of things to do.
- Plein d’idées. Plenty of ideas.
Plein and pleine are also adjectives that mean full, so it makes sense that it can be used as a lot of when twinned with de.
- Le placard est plein.
- The cupboard is full.
- La machine à laver est déjà pleine.
- The washing machine is already full.
Pas mal de
Unlike plein de, the next synonym of beaucoup de doesn’t, at least to me, have an obvious reason for existing: pas mal de. Yea, pas mal means not bad right?, but when paired with de again means a lot of.
- Oh la la, il y a pas mal de candidats pour ce poste.
- Oh wow, there are a lot of candidates for the job.
- Dis donc, elle a pas mal d’abonnés hein ?!
- Jeez, she’s got a lot of followers hasn’t she?!
It may or may not be useful to mention that there are nuances between beaucoup de and the items on this list but that’s all they are, nuances.Nothing to stop you using them right away as direct synonyms.
As learners we need to be ok getting things more or less right, for communication purposes and then master the nuances later.
Tant de & Tellement (de)
That being said, next we have tant de where I would say that the nuance is slightly more important to bear in mind since it’s commonly used to mean so much or so many.
- Il a perdu tant de sang. On doit l’emmener à l’hôpital là, tout de suite.
- He’s lost a lot of blood. We need to get him to the hospital right now.
- He’s lost so much blood. We need to get him to the hospital right now.
- Il y a tant de choses à dire.
- There are a lot of things to say.
- There are so many things to say.
Speaking of so much and so many you can also use tellement in everyday French. If followed by a noun, you need de as with beaucoup de, plein de, tant de…
- Je t’aime tellement !
- I love you so much or I love you a lot or even I love you loads!
- Il y avait tellement de monde au festival.
- There were so many people at the festival.
Mistake: Pas beaucoup
Now, it’s really common for English speakers learning French to answer the question Quoi de neuf ? or What’s new? towards the start of a conversation with pas beaucoup because we would say not a lot or not much in English.
However this isn’t correct, so I want to give you the right way to answer that question and it is: pas grand-chose.
- Salut toi. Alors, quoi de neuf ?
- Ah, pas grand-chose !
Not only is it used in response to quoi de neuf ? but you should use it whenever you would say Not much or Not a lot.
You may hear pas grand-chose or plus grand-chose; the latter if referring to the fact that there used to be more than there is now.
- Je vais bientôt rentrer. Il ne reste pas grand-chose à faire au bureau.
- I’m going to head home soon. There’s not much left to do at the office.
- Je ne sais pas quoi manger. Il n’y a plus grand-chose dans le frigo.
- I don’t know what to eat. There’s not much left in the fridge (but there was before/earlier).
If you’re wondering why it’s grand-chose and not grande-chose because la chose is feminine. Apparently it’s something that’s changed over a long time.
According to one post I found, it started as grande chose, became grand’chose with the ‘ signifying the contracted pronunciation, and then grand-chose to reflect the pronunciation.
Apparently, the same happened with grand-mère, grand-route, and grand-messe. Here’s a link to that post in the description au cas où vous seriez intéressés.
Voilà voilà, those are my 4 alternatives plus 1 correction to beaucoup to make your everyday French sound more natural. Ce n’est pas grand-chose mais ça peut faire la différence ! Hehe.
Don’t forget you can get a free copy of my guide to more speaking confidence over here.
Merci beaucoup d’avoir regardé, tout le monde. À la prochaine. Ciao !