How To Express Sadness In French With Example: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Express Sadness in French

The French language, known for its romantic and poetic nature, is not only capable of expressing love but also adept at conveying the complexities of sadness.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore how to express sadness in French, providing you with a plethora of examples for each expression.

Whether you are a French learner, a Francophile, or someone who appreciates the nuances of language, this guide will help you express your melancholic moments en français.

Basic Vocabulary To Express Sadness

Before diving into idiomatic expressions and more advanced vocabulary, it is essential to familiarize yourself with basic words and phrases to express sadness in French.

A) Triste: sad

Example: Paul est triste parce qu’il a perdu son chat. (Paul is sad because he lost his cat.)

B) Malheureux/Malheureuse: unhappy

Example: Lucie se sent malheureuse après son déménagement. (Lucie feels unhappy after her move.)

C) Chagrin: sorrow, grief

Example: Le chagrin de perdre un proche est immense. (The grief of losing a loved one is immense.)

D) Pleurer: to cry

Example: Les enfants pleurent souvent lorsqu’ils sont frustrés. (Children often cry when they are frustrated.)

E) Déçu(e): disappointed

Example: Ils sont déçus de ne pas pouvoir partir en vacances cette année. (They are disappointed they can’t go on vacation this year.)

F) Se sentir déprimé(e): to feel depressed

Example: Elle se sent déprimée depuis qu’elle a perdu son emploi. (She has been feeling depressed since she lost her job.)

Idiomatic Expressions For Sadness – Express In French

The French language is rich in idiomatic expressions that capture the essence of sadness in a unique way. Here are some common ones:

A) Avoir le cafard: to feel blue, to have the blues

Example: Depuis qu’il pleut, j’ai le cafard et je ne veux sortir nulle part. (Since it’s been raining, I have the blues and don’t want to go anywhere.)

B) Avoir le moral dans les chaussettes: to be down in the dumps (literally: to have one’s morale in the socks)

Example: Après sa rupture amoureuse, elle a le moral dans les chaussettes. (After her romantic breakup, she is down in the dumps.)

C) Être au bout du rouleau: to be at the end of one’s rope

Example: Il est au bout du rouleau avec tous ces problèmes au travail. (He’s at the end of his rope with all these problems at work.)

D) Être au trente-sixième dessous: to be down in the dumps (literally: to be at the thirty-sixth level below)

Example: Depuis qu’elle a perdu son emploi, elle est au trente-sixième dessous. (Since she lost her job, she’s down in the dumps.)

Describing The Intensity Of Your Sadness – Words For Strong Feelings

In French, you can use various expressions to describe the intensity of your sadness:

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A) Un peu triste: a little sad

Example: Je suis un peu triste de ne pas pouvoir te voir ce week-end. (I’m a little sad that I can’t see you this weekend.)

B) Vraiment triste: really sad

Example: Il est vraiment triste depuis la mort de son chien. (He is really sad since his dog passed away.)

C) Profondément triste: deeply sad

Example: Elle était profondément triste après avoir appris la nouvelle du décès de son ami. (She was deeply sad after learning the news of her friend’s death.)

D) Inconsolable: inconsolable

Example: Ils étaient inconsolables lorsqu’ils ont perdu leur maison dans l’incendie. (They were inconsolable when they lost their house in the fire.)

Expressing Empathy And Comforting Others

When someone is sad, it’s essential to show empathy and offer comfort. Here are some phrases to help you express compassion and support:

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A) Je suis désolé(e) pour toi: I’m sorry for you

Example: Je suis désolée pour toi, je sais que tu tenais beaucoup à ton travail. (I’m sorry for you, I know you really cared about your job.)

B) Je comprends ce que tu ressens: I understand how you feel

Example: Je comprends ce que tu ressens, j’ai aussi perdu un être cher. (I understand how you feel, I’ve also lost a loved one.)

C) Ça va aller: It’s going to be okay

Example: Ne t’inquiète pas, ça va aller, les choses vont s’arranger. (Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay, things will work out.)

D) Courage: Hang in there

Example: Courage, il faut continuer à avancer malgré les obstacles. (Hang in there, we must keep moving forward despite the obstacles.)

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Literary Expressions For Sadness – Expressing Feelings In French

French literature is a treasure trove of beautiful expressions for sadness. Here are a few examples from famous works:

A) La douleur muette: silent pain (from Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables”)

Example: Après la perte de sa mère, elle portait en elle une douleur muette. (After the loss of her mother, she carried within her a silent pain.)

B) L’angoisse de l’âme: the anguish of the soul (from Marcel Proust’s “À la recherche du temps perdu”)

Example: Il ressentait l’angoisse de l’âme face à la solitude et l’incertitude. (He felt the anguish of the soul in the face of solitude and uncertainty.)

C) Un chagrin incommensurable: immeasurable sorrow (from Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary”)

Example: La disparition de son enfant lui causa un chagrin incommensurable. (The disappearance of her child caused her immeasurable sorrow.)

Essential Vocabulary For Expressing Sadness

A solid foundation of basic vocabulary is crucial to expressing sadness in French. Let’s start with some fundamental words and phrases:

A) Tristesse: sadness

Example: La tristesse envahit son cœur après la dispute. (Sadness filled her heart after the argument.)

B) Peine: sorrow

Example: Il ressent une grande peine après la perte de son ami. (He feels great sorrow after the loss of his friend.)

C) Mélancolie: melancholy

Example: Le poète était souvent en proie à la mélancolie. (The poet was often prey to melancholy.)

D) Chagrin d’amour: heartache

Example: Le chagrin d’amour peut être dévastateur. (Heartache can be devastating.)

E) Larmes: tears

Example: Les larmes coulaient sur ses joues en entendant la triste nouvelle. (Tears flowed down her cheeks upon hearing the sad news.)

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The Art Of Using Adjectives To Describe Sadness

Adjectives play a crucial role in describing the depth and nuances of sadness. Here are some examples:

A) Triste: sad

Example: Le temps gris rendait la journée triste. (The gray weather made the day sad.)

B) Désolé(e): sorry, upset

Example: Il était désolé de ne pas pouvoir l’aider. (He was sorry he couldn’t help her.)

C) Accablé(e): overwhelmed, burdened

Example: Elle était accablée par la charge de travail. (She was overwhelmed by the workload.)

D) Abattu(e): dejected, downcast

Example: Il se sentait abattu après avoir reçu les mauvaises nouvelles. (He felt dejected after receiving the bad news.)

Colorful Idiomatic Expressions

Idiomatic expressions provide a unique way to convey sadness in French. Let’s take a look at some of these vibrant expressions:

A) Avoir le blues: to have the blues

Example: En rentrant de vacances, il avait le blues. (On returning from vacation, he had the blues.)

B) Avoir un coup de cafard: to feel down, to have a sudden feeling of sadness

Example: Elle a eu un coup de cafard en repensant à son enfance. (She felt down thinking back to her childhood.)

C) Avoir le cœur gros: to have a heavy heart

Example: En quittant sa famille, elle avait le cœur gros. (Leaving her family, she had a heavy heart.)

D) Avoir l’âme en peine: to be in distress, to have a troubled soul

Example: Après la rupture, il avait l’âme en peine. (After the breakup, he had a troubled soul.)

Expressing Empathy And Consolation

Showing empathy and offering comfort is essential when someone is sad. Here are a few phrases to help you express compassion and provide support:

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A) Je suis de tout cœur avec toi: I’m with you in spirit, my thoughts are with you

Example: Je suis de tout cœur avec toi pendant cette épreuve difficile. (I’m with you in spirit during this difficult time.)

B) Ne t’en fais pas: Don’t worry

Example: Ne t’en fais pas, tout va s’arranger. (Don’t worry, everything will work out.)

C) Ça ira mieux demain: Tomorrow will be a better day

Example: Ça ira mieux demain, la vie continue. (Tomorrow will be a better day; life goes on.)

D) Si tu as besoin de parler, je suis là: If you need to talk, I’m here

Example: Si tu as besoin de parler, je suis là pour t’écouter. (If you need to talk, I’m here to listen.)

Proverbs And Sayings About Sadness – Words For Strong Feelings

French proverbs and sayings offer timeless wisdom about sadness and the human experience:

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A) Après la pluie, le beau temps: Every cloud has a silver lining (literally: After the rain, good weather)

Example: N’oublie pas qu’après la pluie, le beau temps revient. (Don’t forget that every cloud has a silver lining.)

B) Le temps guérit toutes les blessures: Time heals all wounds

Example: Le temps guérit toutes les blessures, même les plus profondes. (Time heals all wounds, even the deepest ones.)

C) Qui trop se hâte reste en chemin: Haste makes waste (literally: Who hurries too much stays on the way)

Example: Il faut prendre le temps de se remettre d’une tristesse; qui trop se hâte reste en chemin. (One must take time to recover from sadness; haste makes waste.)

Verbs To Convey Sadness

Apart from essential vocabulary, using specific verbs can effectively express feelings of sadness in French. Let’s explore some of these verbs:

A) S’attrister: to become sad

Example: Elle s’attriste en pensant à ses erreurs passées. (She becomes sad thinking about her past mistakes.)

B) Se lamenter: to lament, to moan

Example: Il se lamente sur son sort après avoir perdu son emploi. (He laments his fate after losing his job.)

C) Pleurnicher: to whine, to sniffle

Example: L’enfant pleurniche parce qu’il ne veut pas aller à l’école. (The child whines because he doesn’t want to go to school.)

D) Souffrir: to suffer

Example: Elle souffre en silence depuis des années. (She has been suffering in silence for years.)

Adverbs To Intensify Sadness

Adverbs can enhance the intensity of sadness in French expressions. Here are a few examples:

A) Profondément: deeply

Example: Il était profondément attristé par la nouvelle. (He was deeply saddened by the news.)

B) Infiniment: infinitely

Example: Elle se sentait infiniment triste après la perte de son grand-père. (She felt infinitely sad after the loss of her grandfather.)

C) Vraiment: really

Example: Je suis vraiment désolé d’apprendre cela. (I’m really sorry to hear that.)

D) Terriblement: terribly

Example: Il était terriblement déçu par la décision. (He was terribly disappointed by the decision.)

What are some basic French words to express sadness?

Some basic French words to express sadness include “tristesse” (sadness), “peine” (sorrow), “mélancolie” (melancholy), “chagrin d’amour” (heartache), and “larmes” (tears).

How do I use adjectives to describe sadness in French?

To describe sadness in French using adjectives, use words like “triste” (sad), “désolé(e)” (sorry, upset), “accablé(e)” (overwhelmed, burdened), or “abattu(e)” (dejected, downcast).

What are some idiomatic expressions for sadness in French?

Some idiomatic expressions for sadness in French include “avoir le blues” (to have the blues), “avoir un coup de cafard” (to feel down), “avoir le cœur gros” (to have a heavy heart), and “avoir l’âme en peine” (to be in distress, to have a troubled soul).

How can I show empathy and offer comfort in French when someone is sad?

To show empathy and offer comfort in French, use phrases like “je suis désolé(e) pour toi” (I’m sorry for you), “je comprends ce que tu ressens” (I understand how you feel), “ça va aller” (it’s going to be okay), and “courage” (hang in there).

Are there any French proverbs or sayings related to sadness?

Yes, there are several French proverbs and sayings related to sadness, such as “après la pluie, le beau temps” (every cloud has a silver lining), “le temps guérit toutes les blessures” (time heals all wounds), and “qui trop se hâte reste en chemin” (haste makes waste).

Can you give me some examples of sadness expressions in French literature or music?

Examples of sadness expressions in French literature include “la douleur muette” (silent pain) from Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” and “l’angoisse de l’âme” (the anguish of the soul) from Marcel Proust’s “À la recherche du temps perdu.” In music, Édith Piaf and Jacques Brel are famous for their sad and moving songs, known as “chansons tristes.”

How can I intensify the feeling of sadness in a French expression?

To intensify the feeling of sadness in a French expression, use adverbs such as “profondément” (deeply), “infiniment” (infinitely), “vraiment” (really), or “terriblement” (terribly).


The French language is a powerful medium for expressing the full range of human emotions, including sadness. From basic vocabulary and verbs to metaphors and examples from literature, music, art, and cinema, French offers a myriad of ways to convey sorrow and melancholy.

We hope this article has provided you with a deeper appreciation of the versatility and richness of French when it comes to articulating sadness. Bon courage et à bientôt!

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