A lot of my students make this common mistake. When being thanked for something nice they’ve done, they want to say “my pleasure” and translate it into “mon plaisir” in French. This does not sound too good in France.
1 – Pleasure in French = Le Plaisir
The word “le plaisir” refers to both physical pleasure and mental pleasure in French. Just like in English.
- Quel plaisir de faire votre connaissance !
What a pleasure to make your acquaintance.
- Il arrive demain : ça va être un vrai plaisir de le revoir !
He gets here tomorrow: it’s going to be such a pleasure to see him again.
- Dessiner m’apporte beaucoup de plaisir.
Drawing gives me a a lot of pleasure – is something I enjoy doing.
We use pleasure in French pretty much the same way you do in English, except for the expression “my pleasure”.
2 – Don’t Say “My Pleasure” in France
When you help out someone, like if you help them move in, and they thank you, it’s common in English to say “my pleasure.” So a lot of students just translate “my pleasure” into “mon plaisir”.
I’ve been told that “mon plaisir” was used in Canada, and that is was common there.
However, in France, I wouldn’t use it: it just doesn’t sound good.
We have a very formal expression which is:
- “Tout le plaisir était pour moi.” (literally, “All the pleasure was for me”)
but if a man was to say this to a woman, it could be seen as a bit flirtatious (see my article on the French dating system).
3 – How To Say My Pleasure In French?
To express that idea, we would say either:
- “Je vous en prie/ Je t’en prie” (You’re welcome – don’t forget to do the glidings on these “shvoo zan pree, shtan pree” – conquer French politeness and its correct pronunciation with my audio master class),
- “Il n’y a pas de quoi” (It was nothing, also glides a lot in modern spoken French “ya pad kwa”),
- “J’étais heureux de le faire” (I was happy to do it).
- “Oui, avec plaisir” – this is a direct answer to a question, maybe the closest fit to “my pleasure” in English.
- You could also say “ça m’a fait plaisir” (I was happy to do it) but I would avoid using the word “plaisir” just because it would be too easy to fall back on the English construction “my pleasure”…
Watch out with the expression “de rien” which is very used in French, but is frowned upon on higher social classes.
Sorry to sound snobbish, but social class does matter in France, so you may as well use an expression that pleases any crowd.
4 – Avec Plaisir =With Pleasure
In French, a common expression with “pleasure” is “avec plaisir” = with pleasure.
- Tu veux venir dîner chez nous demain ? (would you like to come over for dinner tomorrow?
- Oui, avec plaisir ! (Yes, with pleasure)
5 – Au Plaisir (de Vous Revoir)
Another common expression is “au plaisir”. It’s used when you leave, and the full expression is “au plaisir de vous/te revoir” which translate into “I’m looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you again”. It’s common, but frowned upon in higher social classes, just like “de rien” is.
The best way to memorize all these subtle expressions is to learn them in context: I suggest you check out French Today’s downloadable French audiobooks: French Today’s bilingual novels are recorded at different speeds and enunciation, and focus on today’s modern glided pronunciation.