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french conversation starters

22 MORE Useful French Phrases for Striking Up a Conversation

french conversation starters

Casual conversations with French speakers are a great way to practice your language skills! Here, tutor Beth L. shares 22 useful French phrases that will come in handy…

 

When learning a new language, it’s important to keep on talking — and listening — to practice your new skills. If you’ve already learned basic conversational phrases, now it’s time to move on to some more interesting conversation topics!

To help you practice and prompt your new French-speaking friends, below are some useful French phrases to use. In each case, the first version is formal, while the second is informal.

  1. Qu’est-ce que vous faites ce weekend? / Qu’est-ce que tu fais ce weekend?
    What are you doing this weekend?
  2. Que’est-ce que vous avez fait le week-end dernier? / Qu’est-ce que tu as fait le week-end dernier?
    What did you do last weekend?
  3. Comment est-ce que vous allez passer vos vacances? / Comment est-ce que tu vas passer tes vacances?
    How are you going to spend your vacation?
  4. Quelles autres langues est-ce que vous parlez? / Quelles autres langues est-ce que tu parles?
    What other languages do you speak?
  5. De quelle nationalité êtes-vous? / De quelle nationalité es-tu?
    What is your nationality?
  6. Qu’est-ce que vous faites dans votre temps libre? / Qu’est-ce que tu fais dans ton temps libre?
    What do you do in your spare time?
  7. Quelles sont vos sports préférés? / Quelles sont tes sports préférés?
    What are you favorite sports?
  8. Quelles sont vos chansons préférées? / Quelles sont tes chansons préférées?
    What are your favorite songs?
  9. Où est-ce que vous avez voyagé? / Où est-ce que tu as voyagé?
    Where have you traveled?
  10. Où est-ce que vous voudriez voyager? / Où est-ce que tu voudrais voyager?
    Where would you like to travel?
  11. Qu’est-ce que vous aimez manger? / Qu’est-ce que tu aimes manger?
    What do you like to eat?
  12. Où habitez-vous? / Où habites-tu?
    Where do you live?
  13. Qu’est-ce que vous faites comme travail? / Qu’est-ce que tu fais comme travail?
    What kind of work do you do?
  14. Quelle est votre matière préférée à l’école / au collège / au lycée / à l’université? / Quelle est ta matière préférée à l’école / au collège / au lycée / à l’université?
    What is your favorite subject matter in school / middle school / high school / university?
  15. Est-ce que vous avez un chien / un animal de compagnie? / Est-ce que tu as un chien / un animal de compagnie?
    Do you have a dog / pet?
  16. Est-ce que vous avez des frères ou des sœurs? Décrivez-le. / Est-ce que tu as des frères ou des sœurs? Décris-le.
    Do you have brothers or sisters? Describe them.
  17. Quel est ton film préféré? Pourquoi? / Quel est ton film préféré? Pourquoi?
    What is your favorite film? Why?
  18. Quel est votre livre préféré? / Quel est ton livre préféré?
    What is your favorite book?
  19. Qui es votre acteur / actrice préféré(e)? Pourquoi? / Qui es ton acteur / actrice préféré(e)? Pourquoi?
    Who is your favorite actor? Why?
  20. Qui est ton musicien préféré? / Qui est ton musicien préféré?
    Who is your favorite musician?
  21. Quel est votre endroit préféré? Décrivez-le. / Quel est ton endroit préféré? Décris-le.
    What is your favorite place? Describe it.
  22. Si vous pouviez vivre n’importe où, vous choisiriez quel endroit? / Si tu pouvais vivre n’importe où, tu choisirais quel endroit?
    If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

French Conversation Starters – Printable List

useful French phrases for conversations

Not sure where to bring up these French phrases? Check out some ideas for practicing conversational French here. And of course, these phrases will come in handy when you’re working with your French tutor, as well! The more speaking and listening practice you get, the faster you’ll learn.

Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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conversational french

25 Conversational French Phrases Every Beginner Should Know [Audio]

conversational french

Are you ready to hold a conversation in French? Below, French teacher Carol Beth L. shares 25 conversational French phrases every beginner should know…

When learning a new language, not all vocabulary or phrases are equal. As a beginner French student, it is most beneficial to learn popular phrases you will use most frequently.

Below are 25 conversational French phrases that are used most often. Memorizing these useful French phrases will help you hold a basic conversation in French.

You’ll notice the distinctions in some cases between informal and formal. The informal versions can be used with close friends and family.

For new acquaintances and people you don’t know very well, however, use the formal version. If you’re unsure, use the formal version, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Note: Each conversational French phrase is followed by an audio clip. Be sure to listen to the audio and practice the proper French pronunciation.

25 Conversational French Phrases Every Beginner Should Know


 Greetings

French greetings are one of the first things most people learn as beginner students. After all, it can be difficult to interact with people if you don’t know how to say hello or ask how they are. Check out the simple French greetings below.

1. Bonjour! (Good day!)

2. Bonsoir! (Good evening!)

3. Bonne nuit! (Good night!)

4. Au revoir! (Goodbye!)

5. A bientôt! (See you soon!)

6. Comment allez-vous? (formal / plural) Comment va-tu? (informal) (How are you?)

7. Très bien, merci! (Very well, thank you!)

8. Question: Ca va? Response: Oui, ca va (très bien, merci)! Question: How’s it going? Response: Fine/very well, thanks!

Tip: This is an informal greeting. Only use it with people you know well and who are established on an approximately equal social status as you, such as close friends and family.


Personal Information

Once you meet someone, chances are you will want to find out a little bit more about them as well as tell them some things about yourself. After all, having a conversation is all about sharing and exchanging information. Check out the useful French phrases below.

9. Comment vous appelez-vous? (formal / plural) Comment tu t’appelles? (informal) (What is your name?)

10. Je m’appelle _______. Il / elle s’appelle ______. (My name is _______. His / her name is ______.)

11. Vous êtes de quelle nationalité? (formal / plural) Tu es de quelle nationalité? (informal) (What is your nationality?)

12. Je suis américain(e). (I am American.)

Tip: If you’re a female, add the -e in parenthesis and pronounce the final “n.” If you’re not American, you can replace “américain(e)” with any other nationality. For example, chinois(e) (Chinese), japonais(e) (Japanese), australien(ne) (Australian), mexicain(e) (Mexican).

13. Est-ce que vous parlez anglais? Or Parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English?)

Tip: Just as in the previous question, you can replace “anglais” with any other language. For example, espagnol (Spanish), chinois (Chinese), allemand (German), italien (Italian).


Significations

For someone learning French, it’s rather useful to know how to ask what things mean when you don’t know, as well as how to say and write certain words and phrases. Check out these French phrases to know.

14. Comment dit-on _____ (en français)? (How do you say _____ (in French)?)

15. Comment écrire _____? (How do you write _____?)

16. Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire? (What does that mean?)


Activities

Once you’ve met people, you’ll probably want to do something with them. Perhaps share a meal, for example, or tour a museum. While you’re at it, you might also need to spend a little money. Here are some conversational French phrases to help you.

17. Allons-y (Let’s go!)

18. Je voudrais _______. (I would like _______.)

19. Ça coûte combien? (How much does that cost?)

20. Qu’est-ce que vous voudriez faire? (formal) Qu’est-ce que tu voudrais faire? (informal) (What would you like to do?)

21. Est-ce que vous voudrez prendre un verre? (Would you like to get something to drink?)


Location

Are you learning French because you’re planning a trip abroad? When visiting or adjusting to a new area, it may take some time to learn how to get around.

In the conversational French phrases below, fill in the blank with any location you’d like to visit. For example,  l’hôtel (the hotel); un bon restaurant (a good restaurant), le metro (the subway), le parc (the park).

22. Je voudrais aller à ______. (I would like to go to ______.)

23. Comment aller à ______? (How do you get to ______?)

24. Où sont les toilettes? (Where is the restroom?)

25. Où est ______? (Where is ______?)


Try it Yourself!

Studying these conversational French phrases will help you on your way to being fluent in French. But don’t stop there! Learning how to speak French takes time and persistence.

As you learn, speak French as much as you can with those around you, because learning a language is also easier in the company of those who speak it or are, like you, learning it.

Even if they don’t speak it at first, your enthusiasm will be contagious!

Photo by Jonas Foyn Therkelsen

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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5 Important Language Learning Tips for Adults

University Life 104

Do you remember learning a language back in high school or college? If it’s been several years (or decades), it’s normal to feel a bit lost when you’re ready to get back at it.

And while receiving a formal education is wonderful for daily language practice, it isn’t always practical. Amid all of your responsibilities as an adult, finding the time to re-learn a language is undoubtedly a challenge!

Working with a language tutor, along with taking advantage of the many language-learning resources online, can be a great way to learn — but you also may need to approach it with a different mindset than you had in high school.

If you find yourself in this scenario, the language-learning blog Games for Language has some great ideas for you. Here’s an excerpt from their article, featuring five language learning tips for easing yourself back in:

1. Develop a new mindset
– Rather than being anxious about grades and not making a fool of yourself in front of your classmates, you can direct your attention to acquiring practical language skills.

2. Find something that makes re-entry into the language fun
– It can be anything you like: listening to music, scanning news headlines on your tablet, watching a tv soap, reading an easy ebook, playing language games, etc.

3. Start putting together your resource list
– While many of your resources will probably be online, a well-rounded resource list also contains some hands-on paper grammar books, phrase books, dictionaries, novels, stories, magazines, etc.

4. Do something in your foreign language (almost) every day
– The amount of time you spend is less important than the daily routine. Try to apply the 20-minute rule — doing something for 20 minutes is manageable for almost everyone.

5. Find a native speaker to talk with
– Find a language-exchange partner in an online community or a tutor on Skype. It could even be someone in your own neighborhood who is eager to speak his or her own language with you.

Seems pretty doable, right? Putting these five tips into practice is what will get you started on re-learning your language of choice. As with any skill, consistent practice is the main ingredient for achieving success. Don’t be discouraged by the workload — instead, organize your work and chip at it little by little every day.

For a more in-depth look at these tips, check out the full article here.

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Photo by Francisco Oso

The Do’s and Don’ts of French Conversation

Dos and Donts of French Conversation

Learning French takes time.

However, that time can be shortened by understanding the best methods, tips, and tricks to use on your language journey. When mastering a foreign language, practice, vocabulary, and pronunciation are going to be keys to your success—and like most things, when you adopt bad habits it may take longer to do it correctly and with clarity.

You’ll also want to avoid certain faux pas when using your newly acquired language skills with native speakers.

When spoken correctly and respectfully, French can benefit you in many ways. It can open up career opportunities, assist you on your travels, and allow you to meet new, interesting people.

If you’re ready to get started, it’s helpful to know some of the do’s and don’ts of French conversation.

DO Practice French Conversation Whenever You Can, Even if you’re on a Budget

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Lessons and classrooms aren’t the only place to practice your French.

Many cities and towns around the nation have meet-ups and community groups centralized around practicing and conversing in a foreign language. Use your Google skills to find French conversation meet-ups in your area, and make them a part of your weekly routine.

If you aren’t able to find a group nearby or travel to a French-speaking country, there is always the option to do live online conversations with native French speakers. Explore the multitude of free, innovative websites and other fun ways to learn and speak French—and remember you may have to reciprocate by helping someone with English.

The more you practice the closer you’ll be to mastering French.

DON’T Feel Weird about Reading French Books Out Loud

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Books are a wonderful option for practicing French conversation without having an additional person in the room. Find a book with plenty of dialogue, pull out your handy pronunciation app, and start reading out loud.

At first it may be slow going, but if you do it often enough, you’ll be spewing out French phrases left and right.

Highlight areas of interest, or spots where you felt your comprehension was weak. Revisit those areas after you’ve read a chapter and look up words and phrases.

Feel free to repeat them a few times to commit them to memory.

Hint: If adult literature seems a little too challenging, start with children’s books. The illustrations provide a colorful translator.

DO Use the Internet as a Practice Tool

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The internet is the ultimate free tool when you’re tired of hitting the books.

Flashcards and textbooks can only take you so far—sometimes you need real-world experience.

When you’re tired of studying, go ahead and surf the net. The trick? Do it all in French. You can change language settings to French and use Google translator to change a website’s text to a specific language (like French).

Visit French sites, interact in French on social media, peruse French language blogs, Twitter and Facebook pages, and more.

Watch French YouTube videos and even window shop on French websites. See if you can read the descriptions of items accurately. There is a whole world of French internet out there to explore.

DON’T Forget Games, TV, Music, and Movies

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Reading and speaking are two methods for learning French conversation, but listening is another excellent tool.

Search for online games in French, watch French TV, or stream French movies and music. Before you know it, you’ll start to identify words. Even more important, you can see what context they’re used in.

Body language and tone of voice are two powerful ways to absorb a language on multiple levels.

DO Keep a Vocabulary Book

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Many writers look and listen for new words. They keep a notebook with them (or use a note-taking app if they’re a technology fan), and jot down words that they are unfamiliar with. Once near a dictionary, they will look up these words so they can make them a part of their own vocabulary.

The same principles work for foreign language. If you haven’t heard or seen a word or phrase before, write it down and look it up later. Before you know it you’ll be using it in your own French conversations.

DON’T Practice Bad Words in French

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Chances are, somewhere along your language adventure someone has given you the gift of French curse words or insulting phrases.

A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t say it on the job, to your grandmother or in an educational setting, it’s probably not a great idea to practice it in conversations with others—especially if you’re traveling abroad and are unsure of the cultural customs.

In many countries, bad or disrespectful words and phrases come with more consequences than they do in the US.

DO Work on How to Pronounce French Words Correctly

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It’s better to have it correct the first time than to continuously use incorrect pronunciation. Technology makes it easier than ever to learn correct pronunciation.

If you aren’t in your lessons or with a native speaker, pull out a book, app, or check a language program on your computer. There are a variety of resources available, and each will appeal to an array of learning styles.

Try a few methods to find the one that fits you best.

Tip: Great apps include Lingodiction, (How to) Pronounce, and Pronunciation King. Excellent books are French Phonetics and The Sounds of French.

DON’T Resort to Using English when French Conversation Gets Hard

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Understanding only a small fraction of a conversation can feel overwhelming and isolating. You feel lost and confused, and it’s easy for your confidence to suffer.

When you were a toddler, it was second nature to simply sit and absorb, even if you didn’t fully understand what was going on around you. Try and put that incredible ability back in your learning toolbox and apply it when you start to feel unnerved.

You may want to resort to using English to get a point across or ask someone to explain something in English—but don’t. Each time you persevere through an entire conversation as a listener or speaker, the closer you’ll be to understanding and speaking French fluently.

It’s easy to give up, but far more rewarding to keep going, even when it’s hard.

DON’T Ignore Common Cultural Cues

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One of the most important things you’ll learn to do is read and respect cultural cues. This is a skill that can take you far in life, whether you’re in your own country or abroad.

Depending on the French speaker you’re talking to and where they’re from you’ll have a different set of customs to honor. For example, in France it’s not customary to be informal about names with people you don’t know well. It’s common to be more formal and direct. The warmth and familiarity will emerge as you get to know someone.

If you plan on traveling or staying abroad for a period of time, do a quick search on common etiquette guidelines. It will enhance your conversations as well as your overall learning experience.

DO Work Hard on Learning the Basics of French Grammar

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No matter what language it is, the word ‘grammar’ strikes fear into the heart of learners of all ages. Nothing is more daunting than conjugation, modifiers, tenses, and the endless rules.

The good news is if you were able to learn the basics of English grammar you can learn the basics of French grammar. The rules tend to be more straightforward, and as you put them into play, speaking and interpreting French will get easier.

While French conversation is indeed essential to mastering the language, so is basic grammar.

DON’T Lose Hope

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In learning, we hit walls and roadblocks.

Let’s say you’ve figured out greetings and can recognize a good amount of vocabulary. You may even understand basic grammar. Sometimes stringing all of those things together takes time.

They say practice makes perfect, and it’s a common phrase for a reason. One day, all that hard work will give you the ability to put everything together and you’ll be able to have a fluent French conversation.

Don’t lose hope before the transformation occurs.

DO Travel Abroad and Accept French Conversation Opportunities

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France is not the only travel option for those looking to practice their French. If you feel like going off the beaten path or somewhere closer to home, try places like Quebec (and other parts of Canada), Belgium, Haiti, Madagascar, Monaco, Luxembourg, and Benin.

Look into immersion programs, foreign exchange living situations, adventure travel, and volunteerism in French-speaking areas.

If an opportunity to host a French foreign exchange student arises, or to have a French au pair, take advantage. Foreign language students talk about how much easier it is to learn a language when you are surrounded by it—so practice whenever and wherever you can.

DON’T Be Afraid to Initiate French Conversation

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If you’re standing in line at the museum and hear tourists speaking in French, go ahead and say, “Bonjour.” The worst thing that can happen is that they’ll ignore you.

More likely, they’ll welcome the conversation and appreciate that someone made the effort. The same goes for traveling abroad. French speakers warm up quickly to those who attempt to use the native language—even if it’s a little shaky.

A smile and an attempt goes a long way to receiving patience, practice, and help in French conversation.

DO Put Theory into Practice Whenever You Can

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Sit down one day and make a list of where you can practice French conversation. Look at adding meet-ups, French restaurants, online communities, travel destinations, lessons, and classes.

Brainstorm everything you can think of.

Some will be practical and some will be dreams that happen later on.

The purpose of your list is to put things into context. One of the most efficient ways to gain a skill is to use it in daily life in the proper setting.

If you’ve just learned about ordering in French, find the nearest French bakery. Hop onto Skype and use your newfound vocabulary to talk about the weather with someone in the Congo.

Head to your private tutor and practice telling them what you did the past weekend. The more frequently you use your French lessons in everyday life, the better your conversational skills will become.

Think of the do’s and don’ts of French conversation as a essential guide for your everyday language learning lessons. Each step of the way you’ll know which paths to choose to keep you moving toward fluency.

 

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50 Fun French Games That Will Help You Master the Language

50 Fun French Games

Whatever your level, you can improve your language skills while having fun by playing French games. In this list, you will find French learning games to master every type of skill while playing alone, with a partner, or in a group.

French Card Games

Card games

1. Piquet

A trick-taking game played by two people, Piquet dates back to at least 1535. If you enjoy card games, purchasing a Piquet deck is a good move, as the cards are needed for many other French games.

2. Bezique

A derivative of Piquet, Bezique requires two decks and offers additional scoring opportunities.

3. Belote

One of the most popular French games, Belote requires two, three, or four players, depending on the variation. Rules vary around the world, but you should try the French version for an authentic experience.

4. French Tarot

After Belote, the most popular card game in France is Tarot, also called Jeu de Tarot. It typically requires four players, but three or five can play when you use a variation.

5. Bouillotte

This quick game only takes five minutes to complete. Once again, it uses a Piquet deck but with just 20 or 24 cards, depending on the number of players. Bouillotte involves betting, calling, raising, and dropping out, much like poker.

6. Lanterloo

Also called Loo, Lanterloo is a trick-taking game originating from the 17th century. Today, there are many variations, all of which are quite like the English game All Fours — and Lanterloo even uses the same 52-card deck. You can play with 3 to 8 players but it is best with 5 to 7.

7. Rams

Rams is similar to Lanterloo, except you can play with up to nine people. In the U.S., a version of Rams is often played as Rounce with a 52-card deck, but the traditional French game calls for Piquet cards.

8. Polignac

Polignac also goes by the names of Jeux des Valets and Four Jacks. Although it is related to Hearts and Black Lady, it uses a Piquet deck. Games usually require three to six players, but it is possible to play with more by using a 52-card deck.

9. Commerce

For a larger group, Commerce is ideal, as you can play with up to 10 people using either 52, 40, or 32 cards. Much like Thirty-One, the aim is to finish a round with the best three-card hand.

10. Mille Bornes

Meaning “thousand milestones,” Mille Bornes is an easy game to play in French, as you only need to learn a few words and know the numbers.

11. Manille

Yet another option for the Piquet deck, you can play Manille with just two people, but it is best to have four players competing in pairs.

French Learning Games for Kids

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12. KidSpeak

KidSpeak is a package of interactive computer games that introduces children to the French language, covering a variety of topics across three levels of difficulty.

13. Puzzles

Crosswords, word searches, and other puzzles are ideal for teaching kids French words and simple sentences. You can find plenty online or in puzzle books.

14. Tongue Twisters

There are a huge number of tongue twisters in French. Use them to learn new vocabulary and push your kids’ pronunciation to the limit.

15. Hangman

Think of a French word and ask your child to determine what it is by playing hangman. This is an ideal opportunity to practice the alphabet and some basic vocabulary.

16. Escargot

Meaning “snail,” escargot is a game like hopscotch featuring 15 to 20 numbered squares in a spiral formation.

Kids play in a group, each taking a turn to hop on one foot to the center of the spiral and back without stepping on any lines. Kids who succeed write their initial in one square.

Subsequent players must not land in marked squares, making it increasingly difficult to reach the middle as more squares have initials.

17. Role Play

Practice the vocabulary that your child recently learned by creating a situation and role playing in French.

Video Games in French

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18. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

You can switch the language of Wind Waker to French to practice your reading. With ample text, you are sure to encounter new vocabulary in this game.

19. Indigo Prophecy

Available with full audio and subtitles in French, this game has an extensive script and dialogue.

20. Heavy Rain

Another story-heavy game, Heavy Rain will push your French skills to the limit as you work hard to make fast decisions.

21. Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls is another game from Quantic Dream, the French developer. Many gamers agree that the voice acting is actually of better quality in French than in English.

22. Assassin’s Creed: Unity

Although all the Assassin’s Creed games are available with French audio, Unity is a top choice purely because it is set in Paris at the time of the French Revolution.

23. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

If you have difficulty understanding French audio alone, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a great choice, as you can set the audio to one language and subtitles to another.

24. Minecraft

Minecraft is an ideal way to learn vocabulary you may otherwise not pick up. Play online in French servers to practice your conversations skills with French natives.

25. Mario Party

If you grew up playing Super Mario Bros., you’ll love the challenge of turning one of your favorites into French. Mario Party and some others are available as French games.

26. World of Warcraft

To interact with French speakers, you will need to purchase the French version of World of Warcraft. However, it is certainly worthwhile, as the large amount of communication needed provides you with an excellent opportunity to practice.

French Board Games

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27. Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk

This complex game involves passing through dungeons to defeat the sorcerer Zangdar and recover the last of Gladeufeurha’s statuettes. To win timed battles and skill checks, you will need to push your French skills to the max.

28. Scrabble

Use a regular Scrabble board and create only French words or purchase a French Scrabble set for a better mix of letters.

29. Race to Paris

Race to Paris is designed to help players learn French. You will need to build sentences to earn points — the longer the sentence, the more points you receive.

30. French Bingo

Work on your speaking skills as well as recognition of words by playing French bingo. You can purchase a game or make your own by printing out cards.

31. Fief

Fief is a strategic game set in the Middle Ages. It is best to play with at least four people to form alliances and see a greater number of wins each round.

32. Spot It!

For beginners looking for simple French games, you can’t go wrong with Spot It! Match cards while learning basic French vocabulary with up to eight players.

33. Djam

Djam is slightly more challenging than some of the other board games, as it requires a greater knowledge of vocabulary to create words beginning with a certain letter on different themes.

34. Mundus Novus

Set in 16th century Spain, Mundus Novus is available entirely in French. The game involves accumulating enough doubloons and resources to beat your opponents.

35. Jarjais

Play during the French Revolution, collecting clues to gather details about the lost treasure and free Queen Marie-Antoinette.

36. Monopoly

Monopoly comes in a huge number of editions, including Paris-Saint Germain. The board and all the cards are in French, allowing you to practice your comprehension skills.

37. Off the Dead: Chapitre 1 – Morts à Venice Beach

The first chapter of the board game Off the Dead is available in French. Use your language skills to kill zombies while avoiding the loss of human lives.

38. Jeu du Nain Jaune

One of the classic French games, Jeu du Nain Jaune combines skill and luck. Rack your memory to create sequences in your favor and win rounds. This game is simple enough for kids but involves enough skill that it is fun for adults, too.

French Games Online

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39. Spelling Game

Identify the correct spelling of words and phrases, using a picture for help. In this Spelling Game, you can choose from numerous topics to practice different aspects of French.

40. Languages Online

The French section of Languages Online features 35 topics to learn, accompanied by several interactive tasks to practice each.

41. Lingo Hut

Featuring 109 lessons in French, each category has fun activities and French games to learn vocabulary.

42. Whack-a-Word

In Whack-a-Word, you must act fact choose right English translation of words in French.

43. Memorama

This memory game will help you learn vocabulary for increasingly difficult topics.

French Party Games

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44. Karaoke

All you need to add karaoke to your party are French songs with lyrics and microphone. You can easily find karaoke versions on songs on YouTube.

45. Scattergories

Compile a list of categories and pick a letter at random. Participants need to think of as many words as possible beginning with that letter for each category. Award bonus points to those who come up with words no one else does.

46. Trivia

Make up your own questions or find some online. Play in teams to help each other out with understanding questions and figuring out answers.

47. Qui Suis Je?

You can easily turn the classic Who Am I? into French. Everyone receives a card with the name of a famous person (it’s even better if you use French celebrities). Stick the cards to your foreheads and ask questions in French to figure out who you are.

48. Maman, veux-tu?

Mother, May I? is a great game to enjoy practicing French in a group. Add complex commands that will be difficult to understand to make it a challenge for players to reach the finish line.

49. Sabine a dit

Sabine a dit is Simon Says in French. Start easy, gradually increasing the difficulty until only one player is left standing.

50. Pétanque

Take your daytime party outdoors to play pétanque. Keep score by calling out numbers in French.

Playing French games will only get you so far. If you want to master the language, avoid mistakes, and learn proper pronunciation, you need to learn with a private tutor. Search for a qualified teacher in your area to gain more from playing French games.

 

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When You Translate French to English Watch Out for These 3 Things

When You Translate French to English Watch Out for These 3 Things

French is one of the most beautiful of the romance languages. Spoken as the official language in 29 countries, French is the second most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union.

Learning to speak and understand any language is a process of immersion.

To truly understand and be able to translate French to English  means understanding French culture and the idiosyncrasies of the language. One highly effective method for truly understanding a language beyond simply speaking it is to translate French into your mother tongue.

When learning to translate French to English, there are three areas that can prove challenging.

Idiomatic expressions, false cognates, and slang are three areas that can prove challenging to translate for non-native speakers regardless of the language.

To help you get started translating French, let’s take a closer look a how to translate French idioms, false cognates, and slang into English.

French Idioms

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Every language uses idioms on a daily basis.

They often hold either a cultural or historical place in the language so it’s best to memorize them if you want to develop a good conversational base in the language.

The French language is full of interesting, funny and often colorful idiomatic expressions. Many idioms, or argot have their roots in some unlikely places, while others are very close to expressions in the English language.

Learning idioms can be one of the most fun tasks to developing skill in any language. It’s an excellent way to impress and engage native speakers and it gives you the ability to learn the language beyond the common methods of grammar, gender, sentence structure, and vocabulary.

The Benefit of Learning French Idioms

Learning French is entertaining, and enriching. Becoming familiar with idioms and their use in conversation is a helpful tool towards fluency and can help you to attain a native speaker’s knowledge of the language.

Committing French idioms to memory can take time and you should use care when learning to translate French idioms into English. While some are remarkably similar in meaning, others can have completely different meanings and it’s important to understand them from a cultural standpoint.

Common French Idioms And Their English Translations

The French have an obsession with the culinary arts and a surprising number of French idioms have culinary origins! While many have drastically different meanings in English, often when you translate French idioms to English, you’ll find some that have remarkably similar meanings. Here are some common idioms and their English translations

“Ne pas être dans son assiette

English: to not be on one’s plate

This is a well-known expression with its roots in the culinary world. The English translation is literal, but the actual meaning in French is loosely “to feel under the weather”

“Occupe-toi de tes oignons”

English: mind your onions

The “culinary” based idiom, the literal translation seems silly, but the cultural “translation” is basically “mind your business.” While it’s not a phrase that would be used in polite conversation, it often pops up in more informal social situations.

While some idioms (like those above) translate differently than their “cultural interpretations” some have remarkably similar meanings in both languages.

For example:

“Prendre le taureau par les cornes”

English: to take the bull by the horns

Others, while literal translations almost match, can have vastly different meanings from a cultural standpoint, like:

“Avoir les dents longues”

English: long in the tooth

This is a perfect example. In English, this is almost a derogatory statement that means the person is old. In French, this phrase is actually a compliment meaning “to have ambition.”

While most expressions differ slightly and don’t use similar words, some match up smoothly with their English equivalents because the idea behind them is almost the same, for example:

English phrase: “it’s raining cats and dogs”

French: “il pleut des cordes”

English literal translation:  it’s raining ropes

And another example:

English phrase: “to have other fish to fry”

French: “avoir d’autres chats â fouetter”

English literal translation: to have other cats to whip

While some idiomatic speech will need to be memorized in order to understand, other colloquialisms can be figured out literally, or culturally. Often, the best course of action is to learn these in the native language, then translate French to English and see how they match up.

French False Cognates

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Cognates are words in two different languages that look similar and mean basically the same thing in both languages.

While there are cognates between French and English, you’ll need to be careful. While French and English share a linguistic history, there are plenty of “faux amis”(false friends) between these two languages.

False cognates are words that look the same in each language, but have different meanings, sometimes, vastly different meanings. When speaking with a native French speaker, improperly using these words can easily trick you into saying something senseless or embarrassing that you didn’t mean to say at all!

Here are some common examples to watch out for:

1.  Ancien / Ancient

While ancien can mean ancient, it’s primary meaning is “former.” For example, your ancienne voiture is the car you used to own. A good rule of thumb, if ancien comes before a noun, it usually means former, not ancient or old.

2.  Bras / Bras

Votre bras means your arm, it doesn’t have anything to do with the female undergarment! The French word for bra is un-soutien-gorge.

3.  Blessé’ /Blessed

Blesser means to wound, physically or emotionally. So for example un enfant blessé isn’t a child you are expected to worship, but more likely a child who needs a bandaid!

4.  Monnaie / Money

Monnaie means loose change. So technically, you could have plenty of money, but no monnaie!

5.  Déception / Deception

This is a sneaky one! The verb decevoir, the noun déception and the adjective décu all mean being disappointed or disillusioned and not actually deceived. This could be a problem in conversation if you think that someone is accusing somebody of deceiving the, rather than disappointing them.

6.  Envie / Envy

This is another tricky one, be careful! The verb envier can be used as “to envy” but the noun envie actually means “to desire.”

For example, you could say “J’ai envie d’une glace” which means “I want ice cream,” but if you mean to say, “I envy you” be careful not to say “J’ai envie de toi” because you’re actually saying “I want you!” This could prove to be a bit “sticky!”

In any case, listen to lots of French pop music as part of your learning and you’ll not make this mistake. The phrase comes up a lot!

7.  Grand / Grand

In French as in English, grand can mean great, as in un grande ècrivan – “a great writer,” but it can also mean “big. “ Or, when used to describe physical appearance, “tall.”

8.  Joli / Jolly

Joli(e) means pretty, unlike jolly in English, which means happy or joyous.

9.  Journée / Journey

This is a common faux ami! Une journée translates to “one day.” So if you’re every whished a bonne journée” they are saying “have a nice day” not wishing you “bon voyage!”

10.  Coin / Coin

Coin  in French means corner, not the change jingling in your pocket! Those would be either pieces or monnaaie. Dans le coin means in the nearby or immediate neighborhood.

These are just ten examples of common French false cognates. As you are learning vocabulary, make it a point to recognize, make note of, and memorize the faux amiIt will help you as you translate French to English to make a note of them!

Quiz: Can You Spot These French False Cognates?

French Slang

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Every language has expressions and colloquialisms that add color, spice, and “native status (or ”street cred”) when spoken.

French is no different, and in fact the French slang well is particularly deep, colorful, and rich! Slang is constantly evolving and often the vanguard of the young since expressions can go out of favor quickly.

You may be familiar with the slang form known as “le Verlan” which is created by inverting syllables in a word. Verlan is actually an inversion of the word l’envers, which means reverse.

Many common French slang terms have survived over time like un bouquin for book, and un mec for “a guy,” but with the younger generation a newer form of slang has emerged known as le parler d’jeunes.

The French youth of generation “Y” have created a complex style of slang. It incorporates traditional slang, verlan,  English and Arabic word and even shorthand SMS messages into their speech, even going so far as to create compound forms like inverting syllables in Arabic words!

Remember, as with slang in any language, different interpretations are possible and variations can occur regionally, and even among different age groups.

Here are some common French slang expressions for you:

• Faire gaffe

This is common across generations and in the south. It’s an alternative to faire attention or watch our, be careful. Remember to conjugate faire properly.

Bosser / Taffer

Colloquial version of travailler – meaning to work. When using the noun, le travail can be replaced with le boulot.

•  Nickel

French slang for “perfect.” When something is ok you can confirm it with this word.

Bouffer / la bouffe

informal slang for “to eat” (manger) or “food (la nourriture)

Bof / Bah / Euh

These are great words to use to give your speech a true “native” flair. The French equivalent of uh, or um, used to fill space.  These three are all small interjections you should incorporate in your French speaking.

Bof – signifies mild boredom in English this roughly translates as “meh.”

Euf – is the French equivalent of uh, or um used to stall while “finding your words.”

Bah – is another filler word. Usually used at the beginning of a sentence, it indicates when a person makes an obvious statement.

Mec / Nana

Used pretty much throughout the country and understood as the French equivalent of “dude” and “chick”

Santé!

In English we say “cheers” when celebrating with friends: In France they use santéIt’s a way to toast to each others health. Culturally, make sure to look your guest in the eyes otherwise you may be called out for being rude!

• Oh bonne mère

This phrase is used primarily in Marseille and is the equivalent of “oh mon dieu.”

 

The French language is beautiful and rich. Filled with colorful words and phrases you’ll need to be aware of these idioms, false cognates and slang phrases when you translate French to English.

These are just a few of the choices you’ll have when learning to speak like a native. Like any study, immersing yourself in the local culture will yield a treasure of regional speech that can have you sounding like a native in no time!

When studying the language, make sure to include current popular music and film in your studies. These are both great areas to hear idioms, false cognates and slang in everyday use.

Remember, slang is constantly evolving, so when you’re progressing with your studies, make sure to stay current! It will make your speech sound even more authentic!

What obstacles have you encountered in translating French to English? Share what you’ve learned in the comments below!

 

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Ultimate Guide to Studying French Pronunciation Online

Ultimate Guide to Studying French Pronunciation Online

Ask any student their biggest struggle in learning French and you are almost guaranteed to hear one thing – pronunciation.

Admittedly, pronunciation is one of the hardest aspects of learning any foreign language. As babies, our minds are very receptive to learning how to identify and reproduce the numerous sounds contained in a language.

This ability diminishes early in childhood, making it more challenging for second language learners to learn how accurately hear and pronounce sounds that are not present in their native tongue.

Native English speakers studying French usually have a harder time learning to pronounce the nasal vowels and French “r”.

French presents the additional challenge that a word’s pronunciation typically does not match its spelling.

There are many silent letters in French, particularly those at the end of the word. A word that looks long on paper may only be a single syllable when pronounced.

When you are first starting to learn French, this makes it challenging to know exactly how to say a word that you see.

This is made even more difficult by liaisons, where these normally silent consonants are suddenly pronounced when followed by a word starting with a vowel.

Improving Your French Pronunciation Online

Do not get discouraged – although French pronunciation can seem almost impossible to a beginner, it is a skill that can be mastered with time and effort.

With practice, French pronunciation will become easier. All you need to do is devote at least a few minutes each day to practicing speaking in French and improving your pronunciation. Before long, you will be surprised at how natural and easy saying things in French feels.

French Pronunciation Guides

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These French pronunciation guides are a great way to learn proper French pronunciation.

They also make great resources to reference when you have a question or want to review later.

The French Alphabet: Every French learner has to start somewhere. The alphabet is the perfect place to start. This will serve as the foundation for everything else you will learn during your time studying French.

This infographic contains the sound made by each letter. Time to start practicing your “ah, bay, say”.

International Phonetic Alphabet: One of the most useful things that any language learner should do, regardless of what language they are studying, is learning how to read the International Phonetic Alphabet (also known as the IPA).

Originally developed by a group of French teachers in the late 1880’s, the International Phonetic Alphabet was created so that anyone could sound out how a word should be pronounced, regardless of what language they speak.

IPA is included in almost any dictionary. By learning how to read the IPA, when you look up unfamiliar French words in the dictionary, you will easily be able to determine exactly how they are pronounced.

French Phonetic Transcription Converter: Wondering how to pronounce a word, phrase, or block of French text? Copy and paste it into this phonetic converter, and you will be able to see the IPA symbols for each word.

French Pronunciation by FSL Homework Toolbox: This guide covers every letter of the French alphabet, as well as accented letters and digraphs (two letters that make a unique sound when used together).

The chart lists the equivalent English sound (or their closest approximation for sounds that are not present in English) and an English word that uses this sound. It also provides several French words that contain this sound as an example.

Spell and Sound Pronunciation Guides: This website has created a wealth of pronunciation guides for French students to reference. These guides are quick and easy to use. There is at least one guide available for almost every letter of the French alphabet.

Liaisons: This guide by About.com explains the rules concerning the French liaison. You will learn when you must use it and how it should sound when doing so.

French Pronunciations You Won’t Hear in School: Speakers of any language tend to shorten things when they are speaking without even realizing it.

For example, a speaker of English may say “doncha” instead of clearly annunciating “don’t you.”

This guide explains some of these common shortcuts taken by French speakers. Learning these abbreviated forms will help you sound more like a native while also improving your listening comprehension.

French Pronunciation Guide by Talk in French: This pronunciation guide provides explanations of almost every aspect concerning French pronunciation, including nasal vowels, accents, stress, and more.

Videos are included throughout the guide to model and further expand upon the topics discussed.

French Pronunciation Audio

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These websites contain audio of words and sounds in French that you can listen to in order to hear the correct pronunciation and compare it to your own.

Spell and Sound Audio Lounge: This compilation includes audio of native speakers demonstrating the correct pronunciations for the French alphabet, vowels, nasal vowels, consonants, semi-consonants, the French r, and more.

If you are looking for a challenge, the site also has French tongue twisters.

You might have to start out very slowly, but saying them again and again while gradually increasing your speed is an excellent technique for practicing pronunciation.

French Phonetics: On this website, you will find a collection of French pronunciation audios to listen to, as well as games and quizzes to test what you have learned.

One unique feature of this website is that it can record your voice. This allows you to hear your own pronunciation alongside that of a native speaker’s. This direct comparison allows you to better judge your progress and make improvements.

Phonetique: Although much of this website is in French, these audio examples are intended to help second language learners improve their pronunciation.

It still should be pretty simple to navigate, even if you are new to the language. The site also includes games designed to help you practice what you have learned about the sounds and rhythm of French.

French Audio Dictionary

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Whenever you encounter a word in French you do not know, it is important to look it up in the dictionary so you can learn what it means.

By using an online French audio dictionary, you can also ensure that you will pronounce it correctly when you want to use it in your own conversations.

Reverso: This online dictionary translates between English and French, as well as many other language pairs. Every entry includes definitions, translations, and example phrases and sentences, as well as audio clips of the pronunciation.

Forvo: Forvo calls itself the “pronunciation dictionary”, with the tagline “All of the words in the world. Pronounced.”

The site currently contains audio recorded by native French speakers from around the world for over 100,000 French words and phrases.

If you create a free account, you can add words to the list that you would like to hear pronounced and download mp3s of existing recordings.You can also return the favor by recording pronunciations for people trying to learn your native language.

About.com French Audio Dictionary: About.com has compiled an audio dictionary featuring 2,500 of the most common French words you will encounter.

AudioFrench.com: AudioFrench.com allows you to learn new vocabulary and pronunciation simultaneously.

You will find French vocabulary lists here that are focused on a specific topic, as well as word videos that show the words on the screen while playing the audio recorded by native speakers.

The site also contains verb tables that demonstrate conjugations for regular and irregular verbs.

Lawless French: Lawless French has many wonderful French-learning lessons and resources, including pronunciation guides. Hear audio for each letter, common letter combinations, accents and more.

French Listening Practice

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When you are learning how to pronounce French words, practicing saying the words aloud is only one piece of the puzzle.

Listening practice helps train your ear to recognize the sounds of the French language. By learning what the words should sound like, you can apply this to your pronunciation by attempting to mimic how the native speakers say them.

RhinoSpike: At RhinoSpike, you can upload any French text that you would like to hear read aloud. You could input an article, story, or even something that you have written in French.

Your request will be sent to a native speaker, who will make the recording and send it back to you as an mp3 file. Although the service is free, there may be a queue.

You can bump yourself up on the list by helping others on the site by recording readings of texts in your native language.

Lyrics Training: If you love music, then you will love Lyrics Training.

Watch a French music video while typing the lyrics in the box below. The site instantly checks your work. If you fall behind, the music will pause to allow you to catch up.

If you have trouble understanding something, there is a button that allows you to rewind and listen to the current section again.

You can choose how hard you want the game to be – whether you only want to fill in the blanks for a few words or think you can do it all by yourself. This is also a great way to discover French music and immerse yourself in the culture.

Duolingo: This free app quickly became extremely popular when it was first released a few years back. Although the game provides you with a variety of exercises during each lesson, some of these questions will ask you to listen to a sentence in French and type what you hear.

There is a button that allows you to play the audio slower, if necessary. The app automatically grades your submission for accuracy and spelling before allow to move in the game.

News in Slow French: This weekly podcast covers top news stories from around the world, as well as a brief segment at the end covering grammar, vocabulary, or an idiomatic expression used in the episode.

One of the biggest advantages to this podcast is that, as the title suggests, the speakers speak at a slower pace than usual. This makes it easier for beginners to follow along and allows advanced students the opportunity to hear the words said slowly and clearly.

Transcripts are also available for the episodes.

Coffee Break French: Designed to be enjoyed during a “coffee break” or any other time you have a few minutes to practice your French, Coffee Break French is a series of brief, 10 to 15 minute podcasts that are fun and interesting.

These lessons cover everything you need to know about the French language, including vocabulary, grammar, culture, and of course, pronunciation.

The show’s four seasons start at “bonjour” and gradually build to cover topics for advanced learners, so there is something here for everyone. The episodes are available for free, but you can download a set of transcripts and worksheets to accompany them if you wish.

FrenchPod101: This podcast uses both audio and video lessons to help you improve your pronunciation, expand your vocabulary, and discover the French culture.

Lessons range from beginner to advanced. Every podcast is labeled according to its difficulty level so that you can find material that is perfectly suited for your needs and abilities. You can find even more video content on the FrenchPod101 YouTube channel.

 

In addition to using these resources, working with a language tutor is one of the best ways to quickly improve your French pronunciation.

Because they will be working with you one-on-one, they can provide you with instant feedback on your pronunciation to correct any minor errors before they turn into bad habits.

Your tutor will also be able to address any questions about French pronunciation that you have and offer pointers to help you pronounce the many beautiful sounds of the French language.

Do you know any other great resources for studying French pronunciation online? Share them with us and our community of language learners in the comments below!

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The 50 Most Beautiful French Words You’ll Ever Hear | Infographic and Audio

Beautiful French Words - HeaderWhen you think of speaking French, what comes to mind?

If you’re picturing candlelit dinners, incredible art, and grand romance, you’re not alone.

French is known as the language of love, and just about everything in French sounds lovely. So here are 50 beautiful French words for your enjoyment.

Some of these beautiful French words were selected for their pleasant sound, while others were chosen based on their meaning.

Beautiful French Words

Hear the Beautiful French Words:

Read by French Tutor Carol Beth L.

 

50 Beautiful French Words

  1. ange – angel (masc.)
  2. baleine – whale (fem.)
  3. bisou – kiss (masc.)
  4. brindille – twig (fem.)
  5. brûler – to burn
  6. brume – mist (fem.)
  7. câlin – hug (masc.)
  8. chaleur – heat (fem.)
  9. chatoyer – to shimmer
  10. chaussettes – socks (fem.)
  11. mon chouchou – my little cabbage, said as a term of endearment (masc.)
  12. citronnade – lemonade (fem.)
  13. citrouille – pumpkin (fem.)
  14. coquillage – seashell (masc.)
  15. croquis – sketch (masc.)
  16. dépaysement – the feeling of being in another country (masc.)
  17. doux – soft
  18. écarlate – scarlet
  19. éclatant – brilliant, dazzling, gleaming
  20. empêchement – a last minute difficulty (masc.)
  21. épanoui – blooming, joyful, radiant
  22. éphémère – ephemeral
  23. étoile – star (masc.)
  24. feuilles – leaves (fem.)
  25. flâner – to stroll aimlessly
  26. floraison – bloom (fem.)
  27. grelotter – to shiver
  28. hirondelle – swallow (bird) (fem.)
  29. libellule – dragonfly (fem.)
  30. loufoque – wild, crazy, far-fetched
  31. luciole – firefly (fem.)
  32. myrtille – blueberry (fem.)
  33. noix de coco – coconut (fem.)
  34. nuage – cloud (masc.)
  35. orage – thunderstorm (masc.)
  36. pamplemousse – grapefruit (masc.)
  37. papillon – butterfly (masc.)
  38. parapluie – umbrella (fem.)
  39. pastèque – watermelon (fem.)
  40. péripatéticien – wanderer (masc.)
  41. piscine – swimming pool (fem.)
  42. plaisir – pleasure (masc.)
  43. pleuvoir – to rain
  44. plonger – to dive
  45. retrouvailles – the happiness of seeing someone again after a long time (fem.)
  46. singulier – so odd it’s one of a time
  47. sirène – mermaid (fem.)
  48. soleil – sun (masc.)
  49. sortable – someone you can take anywhere without being embarrassed
  50. tournesol – sunflower (masc.)

Want to build your French vocabulary? Try these 10 tips to learning new words fast!

Learning new vocabulary can be one of the hardest parts of studying French because the words often seem strange and unusual. Use these tips to “decode” the language so you can memorize French vocabulary fast.

1. Look for Roots

When you can, memorize words that share a root at the same time.

For example, when you learn “écrire” (to write), you can also learn “écrivain” (writer) and “l’écrire” (the act of writing). This increases your vocabulary exponentially, plus words and their meanings will stick more clearly in your memory since you learned the whole family of words together.

2. Know Your Cognates

As you study French, make a list of French/English cognates (words that sound the same and share the same meaning).

To study, write your cognates on a piece of paper in two columns (one for French and one for English) and quiz yourself by folding the piece of paper vertically in half. Test your ability to remember both the English meaning and the French word.

3. Practice With Your Textbook

Most language books have illustrations of new vocabulary.

Looking at the illustrations, describe them using the vocabulary you already know or have studied, and then read the captions underneath the pictures to see how well you did. Notice how the new words are used in context.

4. Three is a Magic Number

If you’re really struggling to memorize vocabulary words, write each French word three times in French and once in English. Then write the French word again without looking back. Check to see if you wrote it correctly.

5. Listen and Repeat

Look for digital recordings of vocabulary words, pronounced in French and in English. Try listening to these once, then repeat each word in French while listening to it a second time. There are many great French videos on YouTube that can help you memorize vocabulary and also practice listening and speaking.

Are you a Netflix subscriber? Check out our monthly guides to the best French movies on Netflix to practice your listening skills the fun way!

6. Use it in a Sentence

For each vocabulary word, write a sentence using it. Try to make your sentence memorable. Context is often a key to remembering new vocabulary.

7. Make Associations

Make associations with words you are familiar with in English.

For example, look at the French verb “rencontrer.” While it means to meet or find, another meaning is “to encounter.” Make the association between these two words so you will be able to recall both the meaning and the word itself in French.

8. French Word of the Day

Choose a ‘word of the day’ each day.

Each day, take the French word you have chosen to study and write it on a few post-its with or without its English equivalent. Place the post-its in places you will see them throughout the day, like the bathroom mirror, the monitor on your computer, or in your planner.

You’ll see the word many times as you go about your day, and by the end of the day you should have it memorized!

9. Write it Down

If your goal is to increase your vocabulary rapidly by quickly memorizing additional words in French, keep a notebook of new words you encounter in class, in books, and in conversations or talk on the radio that you hear. Keeping a written record of words you are learning allows you to review and track your progress.

10. Do it Daily

Make studying French vocabulary a regular part of your day.

The key to learning a new language rapidly is studying it regularly. It doesn’t have to be a long time; just a few minutes, each day, can make a huge difference.

Add even more beautiful words to your vocabulary by studying with a private tutor to learn how to speak French!


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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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10 Cool Sites to Learn French by Podcast, Video, or Blog

9 Cool Sites to Learn French by Podcast, Video, or Blog

Is it possible to learn French by podcast? French tutor Carol Beth L. shares a few great podcasts, blogs, and a YouTube channel that can help you learn French faster…

When you’re learning French, consistent linguistic exposure at and just above your level is vital. It can help you reinforce your current level, and help you raise your level through context clues and direct introduction to new vocabulary.

Podcasts and other online mediums are an excellent way to do this. Below are a few podcasts that can help you improve. At the end, you will also find one YouTube channel and two blogs listed.

While the focus and organization of these types of sites is sometimes a little bit different, they can also provide some similar types of linguistic support.

Podcasts


1) Learn French by Podcast

LearnFrench cropped

Learn French by Podcast on subjects such as superfoods, migrants, grammar points, expressions, and user questions. The podcasts provide interesting information in French, and a discussion about the language and grammar used in the course of the podcast.

They also include a vocabulary list available before listening.


2) The French Podcast

FrenchPodcast cropped

The French podcast includes beginning, intermediate, and advanced podcast conversations in French. It also contains motivational interviews with people who have lived in France.

The creators focus on natural language conversations. Each podcast includes a pdf with a transcript and vocabulary. Both the transcript and vocabulary usually come out after the conversation.


3) DailyFrenchPod

DailyFrenchPod cropped

Daily French Pod offers daily podcasts in French with conversations by native speakers. The beginning introduces the podcast in French, and recommends the College de Paris.

The daily conversation is then presented with an explanation. For intermediate to advanced podcasts, most new vocabulary is explained in French. The conversation is then repeated. Most are accompanied by a PDF Podcast.


4) French Blabla

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French teacher and native French speaker, Caroline, offers classes in French and, more recently, has begun to blog about French language. Her blog posts include audio, and website visitors can subscribe to receive her posts by email. Follow her on Twitter also at @French_Blabla.


5) French-Podcasts.comLearningFrenchPod cropped

Podcasts illustrate various elements of life in France through contact with real-life situations and contact with French people and places. The listener can also download a transcript. Most were done between 2007 and 2008, but are still available online. Sometimes the recordings lag a little.


6) One Thing in French a Day

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Three days every week, Laeticia, a French woman, posts several minutes of commentary on her children, watching television, a museum exhibit, or whatever other interesting tidbits she might dig up in her day.

The audio is available along with the beginning of the transcript every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday on her website. Listeners can subscribe to her newsletter for the full transcript.

YouTube:


7) Learn French with Vincent

FrenchYoutube cropped

Learn French with Vincent, otherwise known as Learn French and Have Fun, offers a collection of videos for learning French. Videos include grammar points such as verbs and prepositions; vocabulary lists on topics such as body parts and clothing; and a 2-hour beginning French video.

8) French Possum

French Possum features an abundance of videos about French culture and language, covering everything from history, traditions, and food. All videos are in French with English subtitles, which is a great way for students to hear and practice proper French pronunciation. As an added bonus, full bilingual transcripts in French and English can be found on the blog, French Possum. 

Blogs:


9) Oui, c’est ça!

FrenchBlog cropped

Includes comics, francophone history, and music for French learners and francophiles. While the blog is more visually-oriented than some of the podcasts listed above, many of the articles contain recorded segments – isolated words and phrases, or recorded versions of the typed French or bilingual transcript.

Posts are also classified as beginning, intermediate, or advanced, so you can gauge whether or not it will be close to the right level.


10) French Language Blog

LanguageBlog cropped

This blog contains the fewest auditory resources and includes the most English of all the resources listed in this article. Its articles are primarily in English, but include interesting passages, words, and phrases in French.

They also present interesting tidbits about France, French-speaking places, French grammar, French culture, and the French perspective on the world. It also occasionally links in interesting videos (which contain audio), such as a humorous song about coffee posted earlier this month.

 

So, if you’re studying French on your own or you need additional practice reviewing, listening, and speaking, take heart! There are many French resources available (often for free) that can help you advance yourself.

Have you found any great French podcasts or websites that you enjoy studying with? Share them with us in the comments below!

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

Photo by The LEAF Project

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