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La Joie de Vivre

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

Talking About Life―La Vie

Uses of the Verb Vivre That Will Make Your Conversation Richer

If you’d like to sound more fluent and interesting in French, you’ll definitely want to be able to talk about la vie―life―because no society revels more in the celebration of la vie than the French. Perhaps that’s why, even in English, when we are talking about the “joy of living” we often use the beautiful French phrase, la joie de vivre (using the infinitive of the verb vivre―to live, or to be alive.)

Like to quickly review the conjugation of vivre before we move on? In the present tense it’s easy:

To Be Alive

Vivre and the noun la vie have several different shades of meaning in French, similar to the uses of the verb “to live” in English. First and foremost, it means to be alive, of course (what we all aspire to), as opposed to being dead. Être en vie―to be in life, to be living.

Heureusement, ma mère est encore en vie. Happily, my mother still lives.

Je suis toujours en vie. I’m still alive.

Where You Live

But, as in English, vivre also means to spend your existence in a primary physical location:

Ils vivent à Marseille. They live in Marseille.

Elle vit à Paris. She lives in Paris.

Vous vivez aux États Unis? You live in the United States?

Tu vis d’amour et d’eau fraîche.

With Whom You Live

People are social animals.

Nous vivons ensemble. We live together.

Ils vivent en colocation, ou, ils vivent en coloc. They share their house/flat.

Je vis avec ma soeur. I live with my sister.

How Or Why You Live

How do we sustain our life? What is it that we live for―our raison d’être?

Elle vit de sa passion, la musique. She lives (pays for her rent, food, etc…) thanks to her passion, music

Je vis pour mes enfants. I live for my kids (they’re the only important things in my life.)

Tu vis d’amour et d’eau fraîche. You live on love and fresh water (proverb that means to live happily on love and not much more.)

More useful colloquial expressions using the noun la vie, or the verb vivre

La vie est dure. Life is hard.

La vie est courte ! Life is short.

C’est la vie ! That’s life!

vivre sa vie to live one’s life

bien vivre to live well

la raison de vivre the reason for living

vivre dangereusement to live dangerously

vivre l’instant to live for the moment

vivre vieux to live to a ripe old age

le savoir-vive manners (knowing how to live)

vivant living, alive, lively (adjective)

Vive la France! Long live France!

Vive la différence! Hurray for the difference!

Vive les mariés ! Hurray for married couples

être un bon vivant to be a person who enjoys life (socializing, food and drink)

parler de vive voix to speak in front of each other (not though a device)

être sur le qui-vive to be on guard

voir la vie en rose to see life in pink - to see it on the bright side

Can you think of any other interesting common expressions using vivre? Tell us in a comment!

Not sure about how to pronounce some of these words? To hear the proper pronunciation of all the phrases in today’s blog, all you have to do is click on the short video below!


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Vivement que tout soit fini - I'm looking forward till this will be over

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