150+ Common French Words You Need to Know

150 common french words you need to knowWhen studying any language one effective method for learning is to study and memorize the most common words first. This can help you to understand situations more quickly than if you’re learning vocabulary from random sources.

The French language is one of the beautiful romance languages. It is the official language in 29 countries and is spoken as the primary language by about 338 million people. The following is a list of over 150 common french words that every student should learn.

The list is broken down into groups that cover seven parts of speech: personal pronouns, articles, conjunctions, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

Common French Personal Pronouns

1 (2)Personal pronouns are words like he, she, I, and you. They commonly take the place of more specific nouns, such as a person’s name, in conversation and in writing.

French words – English definitions – part of speech/tense

1.  je – I – 1st person

2.  nous – we – 1st person plural

3.  tu – you – 2nd person

4.  vous – you, • yourself – 2nd person plural

5.  il – he, it – 3rd person

6.  elle – she – 3rd person

7.  ils – they – 3rd person plural, masculine

8.  elles – they – 3rd person plural, feminine

• NOTE:  Vous, the french word for “you” can be either singular or plural. When used in a singular form, it is considered a form of politeness. As a plural, it is used to address more than one person.

Learn more about the difference between tu and vous.

Common French Articles

2 (2)French articles can sometimes be confusing for students because they need to agree with the nouns they modify. They often don’t correspond to articles in other languages.

As a general rule, if you have a noun in french there is always an article in front of it, unless you use some other determiner like a possessive (mon, ton) or demonstrative (ce, cette) adjective.

There are three different kinds of articles in French, definite, indefinite and partitive.

French words – English definitions – part of speech/tense

9.   le – the; him, it – definite article (referring to a masculine singular noun)

10. la – the; her, it – definite article (referring to a feminine singular noun)

11.  l’ – the – definite article (used instead of le or la before nouns beginning with a vowel)

12. les – the, them – definite article/ pers. pronoun (referring to a plural noun)

13.  au – at the, to the, in the – definite article (used with a singular masculine noun)

14.  aux – (a+ les) of the – definite article

15.  un – a, an, one – indefinite article (used before a masculine noun)

16.  une – a, an, one – indefinite article (used before a feminine singular noun)

17.  des – some, any – indefinite/ partitive article (used before a m or f plural noun)

18.  du – some/any – partitive article (masc. singular)

19. de la – some/any – partitive article (feminine singular)

Common French Conjunctions

3 (2)In order for a sentence to make sense the parts must be linked logically, this is the job of conjunctions. There are seven coordinating conjunctions, which are used to link either words or sentence fragments of equal importance, they are:

French words – English definitions

20.  mais – but

21.  ou – or

22.  et – and

23.  donc – thus, therefore

24.  or – now, yet

25.  ni – neither

26.  car – for, because

Common French Nouns

4 (2)Nouns are words that name a person, place, or thing.

French nouns can often function as other parts of speech such as verbs, auxiliary verbs, adverbs and adjectives as well as nouns depending on their usage within the context of a sentence.

French words – English definitions – part of speech/tense

27.  être – being – noun, masculine

28.  dire – according to – noun, masculine

29.  tout – all, everything, any – adj, indefinite adj.

30.  pouvior – power – noun, masculine

31.  bien – well, very good – adverb, noun

32.  devoir – duty – noun, masculine

33.  une chose – thing, matter – noun, feminine

34.  un petit – kid, child – noun

35.  merci – thanks, thank you – noun

36.  un peu – not much, not very, few – noun, adverb

37.  un homme – man – noun

38.  une femme – woman, wife – noun

39.  le temps – weather, time, times – noun

40.  la vie – life, lifetime, existence – noun

41.  le jour – day, daytime – noun

42.  un dieu – god – noun

43.  personne – anyone, anybody – indefinite pronoun, noun, feminine

44.  un père – father – noun

45.  une fille – daughter, girl, gal – noun

46.  le monde – world, people – noun

47.  un ami – friend, friendly – noun, adjective

48.  besoin – need, demand, necessity – noun, masculine

49.  accord – agreement, accord, harmony – noun, masculine

50.  monsieur – gentleman, Mr. – noun, masculine

51.  madame – madam, Mrs. – noun, feminine

52.  enfant – child, infant – noun

53.  grand – big, tall, large, great, big girl, big boy – adjective, noun

54.  mère – mother – noun, feminine

55.  maman – mummy, mama, mom – noun

56.  maison – house, home – noun, feminine

57. nuit – night – noun, feminine

58.  peur – fear, fright – noun, feminine

59. problème – problem – noun, masculine

60.  argent – silver, money – noun, masculine

61.  dernier – last, latest – adjective, noun, masculine

62.  tête – head, face – noun, feminine

63.  amour – love, love affair, cupid – noun, masculine

64.  nouveau – new, fresh – noun, adjective

65.  revoir – to see again, review – noun, masculine

66.  fait – event, fact – noun, masculine

67.  affaire – affair, business – noun, feminine

68.  frère – brother – noun, masculine

69.  histoire – history, story – noun, feminine

70.  jeune – young, youthful, young person – noun, masculine

71.  porte – gate, door – noun, feminine

72.  année – year – noun, feminine

73.  meilleur – better ; the best one – adjective, noun

74.  place – room, square, seat – noun, feminine

75.  ville – town, city – noun, feminine

Common French Verbs

5 (2)While there are literally thousands of French verbs, there are a few that are commonly and often used so it’s important to know them, know what they mean and understand how to use them and conjugate them.

Conjugating French verbs can be difficult. As in the English language, the verb changes depending on who is speaking and context. While in English there are some verbs which require memorization, but in general conjugating an English word is not too difficult.

French verbs on the other hand, typically have different endings for almost every subject pronoun, in all tenses and all moods. This list touches on the most common french verbs, you’ll need to know the tense!

Learn more about conjugating French verbs.

French words – English definitions

76.  être – to be

77.  avoir – to have

78.  faire – to do, make

79.  dire – to say, tell

80.  aller – to go

81.  voir – to see

82.  savoir – to know

83.  pouvoir – can, to be able to

84.  falloir – to be necessary

85.  vouloir – to want

There are many other verbs that you should learn and understand beside the top 10.

Here are 25 more common French verbs to learn and use.

86.  devoir – to have to,  must

87.  venir – to come, occur

88.  suivre – to follow

89.  parler – to speak, talk

90.  prendre – to take, get

91.  croire – to believe, think

92.  aimer – to love, like, be fond of

93.  passer – to pass, go by, cross

94.  penser – to think

95.  laisser – to leave

96.  arriver – to arrive

97.  donner – to give, give away

98.  regarder – to look at, watch

99.  appeler – to call, ring

100.  rester – to stay, remain

101.  mourir – to die, pass away

102.  demander – to ask, ask for, be looking for

103.  comprendre – to understand

104.  sortir – to go out, take out

105.  entendre – to hear, listen to, understand

106.  chercher – to look for, seek

107.  revenir – to come back, return

108.  jouer – to play

109.  finir – to finish, end

110.  perdre – to lose, miss

Common French Adjectives

6 (2)Adjectives are words which add the color to a conversation! They describe, identify and further define nouns and pronouns. Proper use can give depth to your speech by describing how something feels, looks, sounds, tastes, or acts.

This list contains the various French adjectives that should be among the first you should learn. They’re broken down into categories including desciptions of physical qualities of people, objects, less physical qualities, and feelings, health and emotions.

Physical Qualities – People

French words – English definition

111.  petit – small, short

112.  grand – large tall

113.  jeune – young

114.  vieux – old (masculine)

115.  vieille – old (feminine)

116.  beau – handsome; beautiful (with masculine noun)

117.  belle – beautiful (with feminine person, or noun)

118.  fort – strong

119.  faible – weak (person or object)

Physical Qualities – Objects

120.  froid – cold

121.  chaud – hot

122.  bien chaud – warm

123.  long – long

124.  court – short

125.  clair – clear, bright (light); thin (soup)

126.  bas – low

127.  haut – high, tall

128.  lèger – light (as in not heavy)

129.  lourd – heavy

130.  sale – dirty

131.  plein – full

132.  vide – empty

133.  sec – dry

134.  humide – damp, wet

135.  fraise – fresh, chilly, wet (paint)

Descriptors – less physical qualities

136.  bon – good, right

137.  mauvais – bad, wrong

138.  nouveau – new

139.  proche – near

140.  facile – easy

141.  difficile – difficult

142. dur – hard (as in difficult, or not soft)

143.  pauvre – poor

144.  riche – rich

Feelings/ Health/ Emotions

145. heureux – happy

146. content – happy, satisfied

147.  triste – sad, unhappy

148.  malade – ill

149.  gentil – kind, nice

150.  sympathetique – nice, friendly

Common French Adverbs

7 (2)Adjectives add color and description to nouns.  Adverbs modify pretty much everything else. They can be used to modify a verb, adjective, another adverb, a noun phrase, clause or entire sentence.

Adverbs provide information about the words they modify, like when, where, how, or how often.

In English adverb placement can be arbitrary. The French language has stricter rules about adverb placement, for example a french adverb when used to modify a verb, it is generally placed after the conjugated verb.

The following are some common French adverbs you should include in your vocabulary!

French Words – English Definitions – Type of Adverb

151.  actuellement – currently – adverb of time

152.  assez – quite, fairly – adverb of quantity

153.  aujourd’hui – today – adverb of time

154.  aussi – as – comparative adverb

155.  beaucoup – a lot – adverb of quantity

156.  bien – well – adverb of manner

157.  bientôt – soon – adverb of time

158.  déjà – already – adverb of time

159.  demain – tomorrow – adverb of time

160.  enfin – finally – adverb of time

161.  ensuite – next, then – adverb of time

162.  heureusement – fortunately – adverb of manner

163.  hier – yesterday – adverb of time

164.  ici – here – adverb of place

165.   – there – adverb of place

165.  là-bas – over there – adverb of place

166.  longtemps – for a long time – adverb of time

167.  maintenant – now – adverb of time

168.  mal – poorly – adverb of manner

169.  parfois – sometimes – adverb of frequency

170.  partout – everywhere – adverb of place

171.  moins – less – comparative adverb

172.  peu – few, little – adverb of quantity

173.  quelque part – somewhere – adverb of place

174.  rarement – rarely – adverb of frequency

175.  souvent – often – adverb of frequency

176.  tard – late – adverb of time

178.  tôt – early – adverb of time

179.  toujours – always – adverb of frequency

180.  très – very – adverb of quantity

181.  trop – too much – adverb of quantity

182  vite – quickly – adverb of manner

 

This list, while far from complete, gives you over 180 common French words used in everyday conversation.

While there’s no magic formula for learning to speak a new language, starting by studying and learning the most common words in any language will help you to develop an “ear” and an understanding.  The two main aspects of learning any language are study and practice.

Immerse yourself in the culture and language.

Listen to French music, you may not understand all of the words, but your ear and subconscious mind will begin to pick up the subtleties of the language.

Watch French movies while reading the subtitles and your mind will begin to make the connection.

Learn these common French words and then get out there and use them in conversation!

 

Bonne chance, and have fun studying French! For more help, check out our 10 tips to help you memorize French vocabulary fast

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