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The Beginner Guide to French Vocabulary

Learning French Vocabulary represents an enormous part in learning French.

With that in mind, I have written this for you so it will be your gateway to learn French with French Vocabulary!

So, yes, of course, you will have to know about grammar and conjugation but what will you do if you don’t have any basic French words to build up your sentences with, to express what you have in mind and get your message across?

Not much… Wilkins (1972) wrote that “. . . while without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed”.

As a foreign language learner (and, clearly, because you are looking for a French vocabulary list, reason why you are reading this blog), you must be aware that you need to know many words on many different topics.

As Schmitt (2010) noted, “learners carry around dictionaries and not grammar books”.

1) Learn French vocabulary

First of all, let’s try to understand what exactly a word is. Indeed, perceiving how a word is built will help you learning complete word families.

French vocabulary is complex. Nation (2001) highlighted three different aspects of a word. As a language learner, it is useful for you to understand exactly these three facets of a word. They are form, meaning and use.

  1. a) What is the form of a word?

Nation (2001) basically explained that the form of a word associates its written form (spelling), spoken form (pronunciation) and any item that makes that word up (by item, I mean prefix, suffix and root). Let me give you an example.

Let’s take the French word incompréhensible and analyse its form. Its prefix is -in which means “negative” or “opposite”. Its root is compréhen which comes from the verb comprendre (to understand).

Its suffix is -ible which means “which can be”. Therefore, incompréhensible is something that cannot be understood.

Knowing a little bit about prefix and suffix could really help you understand the French language better. So here is a brief list to support you on your learning journey.

Prefix Meaning Examples
A, an Absence Amoral (amoral), anormal (abnormal)
Ad, a, ac, af, al, ap Idea of bringing things together Amener (bring), adjoindre (enlist), accourir (rush up), apporter (bring)
Ab, abs, Distance Abstenir (abstain)
Anté, anti Before Antéposer (prepose), antidater (antedate)
Anti Against Antigel (antifreeze)
Bi, bis Two Bimensuel (bi-monthly)
Dé(s), dis Separation, difference Débrancher (unplug), disjoindre (come apart)
Di(s) Two Disyllabique (disyllabic)
Dys Anomaly Dysfonctionnement (dysfuntion)
Ex Outside Exporter (export)
Homo Similar Homogène (homogeneous, consistent)
In, im, il, ir Negative Inégal  (unequal), illégal (illegal)
Mal, mau Negative, bad, inaccurate Malaise (dizzy spell), maudire (curse)
Mono One Monochrome (monochrome, one color)
Néo New Néonatal (newborn, neonatal)
Non Negative Non-lieu (dismissed case)
Para Protection, close to Parachute (parachute), paraphrase (paraphrase)
Post After Postface (with a postscript, with an afterward)
Pré Before, in front ot Prédisposer (predispose), prémolaire (premolar tooth, bicuspid tooth)
R(e), ré Repetition, reversal Redire (say again), retour (come back)
Suffix Meaning Examples
Ade, age, aille(s) Action, result of an action Embrassade (embrace), codage (coding), trouvaille (find, treasure)
Ation, ition, (s)sion, xion, isation Indexation (indexation), finition (finishing stage), récession (recession), connexion (connection)
(e)ment Aménagement (arrangement)
Ance, ence, escence Qualilty, attribute, function Voyance (clairvoyance), latence (latency), coalescence (fusion)
Eur Hauteur (height)
Isme Opinion, attitude Communisme communism)
Iste Person who has an opinion, an attitude Fasciste (fascist), socialiste (socialist)
Issime Intense Richissime (wealthy)
Able, ible, uble Possibility Mangeable (edible), lisible (readable), soluble (soluble, solvable)
  1. b) What is the meaning of a word ?

The meaning of a word is the signification of each item forming the word (prefix, root and suffix) and therefore the meaning of the full word created by each item.

  1. c) What is the use of a word?

According to Nation, the use of a word contains its grammatical functions as well as any word that goes with it (it’s called a collocation if we want to be exact) like “courir vite” (to run fast). It’s basically why you use this particular word.

Wow, we’ve done it: a bit of grammar! It is always useful and interesting to understand precisely what you’re learning and, quite frankly, for a geeky little person like me, this was rather enjoyable but I could totally understand if you, now, wanted me to get straight to the point and unveil the Holy Grail: the list of French vocabulary!

2) Most used French Vocabulary words by category

In this French vocabulary guide, you will find all the French vocabulary you need to say whatever you want!

Accounting (comptabilité)

Is recording, reporting and analysing financial transactions of a business the type of things you enjoy doing?

Yes?

Well, in that case you might want to have a look at the following few French words.

French English
Budget Budget, finances
Balance Balance
Compte Account
Crédit Credit
Dépense Spending
Économie Economy
Gain Profit
Gestion Management
Plan Plan
Prévision Forecast, expectation
Recette Receipts, revenue, income
Rentrée Income
Revenu Income, earnings
Salaire Wage, salary

Advertising (publicité)

When working in the marketing communication sphere, you will need to have an extensive list of vocabulary.

Please see below the main words regarding that profession.

French English
Affichage Poster campaign
Annonce Advertisement
Avis Notice
Battage Hype, ballyhoo
Bluff Bluff, bluster
Brochure Brochure, booklet, pamphlet
Bruit News, rumour
Charlatanisme Charlatanism, quackery
Dépliant Leaflet, pamphlet
Lancement Launch
Matraquage publicitaire Hype, plugging
Présentation Presentation, presenting
Programme (livret détaillant un spectacle) Programme
Propagande Propaganda
Prospectus Leaflet, prospectus
Pub Ad, advert, advertisement
Réclame Ad, advert, advertisement
Slogan Slogan, headline
Tract Leaflet, handout

Airplane (avion)

On attache sa ceinture et c’est parti!! More than a simple means of transport, airplanes are often a real passion.

If that is your case, look no further !

French English
Aéroplane Aeroplane
Appareil Aeroplane, airplane, aircraft
Bombardier Bomber
Chasseur Fighter plane, fighter jet
Coucou Old crate
Jet Jet, jet plane
Lancement Launch
Propulsion Propulsion
Supersonique Supersonic
Zinc Crate

Airport (aéroport)

This is a similar topic to the previous one.

You will definitely need to know many words dealing with “airport” if you’ve decided to travel to a French speaking country!

French English
Aérodrome Aerodrome
Aérogare Air terminal
Altiport Altiport
Atterrissage Landing
Embarquement Boarding
Halte Stopping place
Plateforme Plateform
Provenance From
Station Station
Terminal Terminal

Airport (aéroport)

Activities (activités)

Traveling to France is a fabulous experience but going over and working there is even better. It would definitely help you improving your language skills very fast.

Here are some words linked to activities.

French English
Actif Worker
Agricole Agricultural, farming
Chômage Unemployment
Commercial Trade, salesperson
Économique Economic
Emploi Job, employment
Fonction Duty
Force de travail Capacity for hard work
Inactivité Inactivity
Industrie Industry
Logistique Logistics
Mécénat Patronage, sponsorship
Secteur Sector, area, field
Service Service, duty
Tertiaire Tertiary, service industries
Tourisme Tourism
Travail Job, work

Anatomy (anatomie)

Anatomy is the science that studies the structure of the body. If you want to learn how to speak about the organs and body parts in French, the following section is for you!

French English
Articulation Joint
Avant-bras Forearm
Bras Arm
Cerveau Brain
Chair Flesh
Corps Body
Coude Elbow
Dissection Dissection
Épaule Shoulder
Humain Human being
Jambe Leg
Membre Limb
Mollet Calf
Morphologie Morphology
Muscle Muscle
Tronc Trunk, torso
Visage Face
Viscère Viscus

Animals (les animaux)

Yes, the Animals was a British rockband in the 1960’s. However, in the following list, we are going to concentrate on our four-legged friends (nos amis à quatre pattes)!

French English
Abattoir Slaughterhouse
Bête Animal, creature, beast
Chasse Hunt
Élevage Farm
Fourrure Fur
Gibier Game
Hibernation Hibernation
Insecte Insect
Mammifère Mammal
Museau Muzzel, snout
Oiseau Bird
Patte Leg, paw, hoof
Pelage Coat, fur
Poil Hair
Queue Tail
Reproduction Reproduction
Reptile Reptile
Taxidermie Taxidermy
Véterinaire Vet

Architecture (architecture)

If you love designing and constructing building, then have a look at the list below!

French English
Architecte Architect
Bâtiment Building, property
Bâtisse Building, structure
Édifice Building, edifice, structure
Gothique Gothic
Mobilier Furniture
Monument Monument, landmark, historical building
Sculpture Sculpture
Urbanisme Town planning

Art (l’art)

Art (l'art)

Do you love painting, drawing, singing?

Henri Matisse work has no secret for you? You should like the following list.

French English
Culture Culture
Esthétique Aesthetics
Musique Music
Peinture Painting
Poésie Poetry, poem
Savoir-faire Savoir-faire, skill, expertise, craft
Sculpture Sculpture
Talent Talent
Technique Technique, method, skill
Théâtre Theatre

Astronomy (l’astronomie)

Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

French English
Astre Celestial body, star
Astronome Astronomer
Céleste Celestial
Comète Comet
Cosmologie Cosmology
Étoile Star
Physique Physics
Planète Planet
Science Science
Solaire Solar

Baby (bébé)

Baby (bébé)

Sleepless nights (that’s the first thing that came to my mind when I wrote baby!! Can you tell I am a mummy who doesn’t sleep much lately?!), smiles, cuteness… A baby changes your life forever and definitely for the better.

Here are some words linked to our precious little ones.

French English
Accouchement Labour, childbirth, delivery
Allaitement Breast feeding
Biberon Bottle
Enceinte Pregnant
Grossesse Pregnancy
Lait Milk
Naissance Birth
Nourrisson Infant
Parent Parent
Prématuré Premature baby

Baking (faire des gâteaux)

Humm, can you smell that lovely smell coming from the oven? Yes, that’s the gorgeous croissants I’m baking! If you love baking too, have a quick glance at the following list.

French English
Beurre Butter
Biscuit Biscuit, cookie
Gâteau Cake, gateau
Dessert Dessert, afters, puddings, pud
Farine Floor
Moule Baking pan, baking tin
Pâtisserie Baking, pastry cooking
Recette Recipe
Sucre Sugar
Tarte Tart, pie

Banking (la banque)

If you decide to move to France, you will definitely need to open bank account. Here are some useful words you might want to learn.

French English
Argent Money
Bancaire Bank, banking, financial
Banquier Banker
Billet Banknote, note, bill
Crédit Credit, loan
Dépôt Deposit
Financier Financial
Investissement Investment
Paiement Payment
Pièce Coin, piece (less than £1/$1)
Prêt Credit

Bar (bar, café)

A gorgeous summer day, the sun is shining and you’re sat on the terrasse of a cafe. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

French English
Bistrot Bar, pub, café
Boisson Drink, beverage
Brasserie Brewery
Buvette Refreshment room, Refreshment stall, Refreshment area
Café Café, bar, coffee
Client Customer
Comptoir Counter, bar
Consommation Drink, beverage
Pression Draught beer
Serveur/serveuse Waiter/waitress

Baseball (baseball)

This is a very important sport in America, not so much in France. Nevertheless, you might be passionated and willing to develop it in France.

French English
Arbitre Referee
Balle Ball
Batte Bat
Équipe Team
Gant Baseball glove
Joueur Player
Lanceur Relief pitcher
Match Match
Stade Stadium

Basketball (basket-ball)

Ever heard about Tony Parker or Joakim Noah? Fan of the NBA? You will certainly want to know more about this sport!

French English
Adversaire Opponent
Ballon Ball
Basketteur Basketball player
Entraîneur Trainer, coach, instructor
Fédération Federation
Netball Netball
Panier Basket
Terrain de basket-ball Basketball court

Bathroom (la salle de bain)

Bathroom

Are you coquette and like making yourself looking even prettier than you alredy are? Love having a nice warm soak? Here are some words about bathroom.

French English
Après-shampoing Conditioner
Baignoire Bathtub, bath, tub
Bain Bath, bathwater
Cabine de douche Shower cubicle, shower stall
Douche Shower
Gel douche Shower gel
Lavabo Washbasin, washstand, sink, bathroom sink
Robinet Tap, faucet
Se laver To have a wash
Shampooing Shampoo

Beauty (la beauté)

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Such a beautiful saying. Here you’ll find some words regarding this topic.

French English
Amour Love
Beau (masculine) / belle (feminine) Beautiful
Charme Charm, attraction, appeal, allure, seductiveness
Cosmétique Cosmetics, beauty product
Douceur Softness, gentleness
Élégance Elegance, style
Harmonie Harmony, balance
Laideur Ugliness
Perfection Perfection
Séduction Seduction

Bedroom (la chambre)

Thinking about booking a room in a French hotel or even better moving to France and going to get some bedroom items? Perfect, that list is for you.

French English
Armoire Wardrobe, closet
Chambre d’hôtel Hotel room
Chevet Bedside table
Dormir To sleep
Drap Sheet
Hôtel Hotel
Lit Bed
Oreiller Pillow
Vêtement Clothes, clothing

Beverages (les boissons)

How nice is it to have a drink with your friends? You can chat (gossip sometimes as well…) and simply have a wonderful time. You’ll need to know more about French words related to beverages if you want to live one of these moments in France!

French English
Alcool Alcohol
Bière Beer
Boire To drink
Breuvage Beverage
Café Coffee
Eau Water
Jus de fruits Fruit juice
Limonade Lemonade, lemon soda
Verre Glass
Vin Wine

Biology (la biologie)

A bit more serious than the topic about beverages I guess… Here are some useful words if you want to speak about biology in French.

French English
Biologiste Biologist
Chimie Chemistry
Évolution Development, evolution
Génétique Genetic, genetics
Médecine Medecine
Métabolisme Metabolism
Moléculaire Molecular
Organisme Organism
Physiologie Physiology
Vivant Life, living things

Birthday (anniversaire)

Joyeux anniversaire, joyeux anniversaire, joooooyyeeeuuuxxx anniversaire!!! I don’t know about you but I’m really starting to struggle with getting old(er)… Well if you’re not as grumpy as me when it comes to birthday, please have a look below!

French English
Année Year
Bougie Candle
Cadeau Present
Célébration Celebration
Festivité Festivities, merrymaking
Fête Party
Fêter To celebrate
Gâteau d’anniversaire Birthdy cake
Soirée Party, soiree, reception, do, bash
Vieillir To get old

Body parts (les parties du corps)

This area might seem basic but body parts represents an important topic to know about, even more so if you are a beginner learner.

French English
Bouche Mouth
Bras Arm
Cil Lash, eyelash
Coude Elbow
Cuisse Thigh
Dent Tooth
Doigt Finger
Épaule Shoulder
Fesse Behind, bottom, bum
Gencive Gum
Genou Knee
Langue Tongue
Lèvre Lip
Lobe Lobe, earlobe
Main Hand
Mamelon Nipple
Mollet Calf
Narine Nostril
Nez Nose
Nombril Belly button, navel
Oeil/yeux Eye/eyes
Ongle Nail
Oreille Ear
Orteil Toe
Pied Foot
Phalange Phalanx
Poitrine Chest
Sein Breast
Sourcil Eyebrow
Talon Heel
Tête Head
Tronc Trunk, torso
Ventre Belly, stomach

Breakfast (le petit déjeuner)

Coffee, croissant, marmelade, orange juice!! I love a nice French breakfast! Don’t you?

French English
Bol Bowl, breakfast bowl
Café Coffee
Céréale Cereals
Confiture Jam, preserve, marmalade
Jus d’orange Orange juice
Lait Milk
Pain Bread
Tartine Slice of bread
Tasse Cup, mug
Thé Tea

Business (commerce)

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people”, Steve Jobs. Such an inspirational quote. I hope I can help you succeeding with the following list.

French English
Affaire Business
Commerçant Noun : storekeeper, shopkeeper, trader, retailer.
Adjective:business-minded, businesslike
Concurrence Competition, rivalry
Échange Trade, trading, exchange
Exportation Exportation, export
Finance Finance, markets, financial mrkets
Importation Importation
Marchandise Merchandise, goods
Négociant Merchant, trader
Troc Barter

Camping (camping)

This is an activity loved by most French people: going camping. In fact, there is a film called “Camping”. Never seen it? Watch it! It’s hilarious and really shows what it’s like going to a French campsite!

French English
Campeur Camper
Caravane Caravan, trailer
Gîte Gite, holiday cottage, vacation rental
Hébergement Accommodation, lodgings
Location Renting, rental, hire, leasing
Plage Beach
Piscine Swimming-pool
Tente Tent
Touristique Touristic
Vacances Holiday, vacation

Car (voiture)

Car

If you go and visit France, I would strongly recommend you to hire a car. Indeed, there are some very long (and beautiful) roads leading to one village to the next!

French English
Automobile Automobile, auto, motor vehicle, car
Berline Saloon, sedan
Cabriolet Convertible, cabriolet, open-top
Caisse Undercarriage
Essence Petrol, gas, gasoline
Mécanique Mechanical, engine
Portière Door, car door
Roue Wheel
Route Road, way, itinerary
Trajet Journey

Chemistry (chimie)

I don’t know about you, but I remember some great experiences I did in Chemistry in school! Deepak Chopra said “To think is to practice brain chemistry”. What do you think?

French English
Alchimie Alchemy
Atome Atom
Chimiquement Chemically, by chemical means
Chimiste Chemist
Industrie Industry
Laboratoire Laboratory
Molécule Molecule
Organique Organic
Physique Physics
Science Science

Christmas (Noël)

 Chritsmas

My absolute favourite time of the year!! Seeing my children’s eyes sparkling when they open their presents is absolutely fabulous (the far too early time they wake up on that day is not as great though…). Petit Papa Noël quand tu descendras du ciel…

French English
Avent Advent
Boule Bauble, bulb
Cadeau Presents, gifts
Décorations Decoration
Guirlande Tinsel
Nativité Nativity
Neige Snow
Père Noël Santa Claus, Father Christmas
Sapin Christmas tree
Traîneau Sledge, sled

Classroom (la salle de classe)

As a teacher, I particularly appreciate anything to do with school (that sounds so geeky!). Knowing classroom’s items could be beneficial to you if you learn French or if you move to France and send your children to a French school.

French English
Ardoise Slate
Bureau Desk
Cartable Schoolbag
Cours Lesson
Craie Chalk stick, piece of chalk
Élève Pupil
Feutre Felt pen, felt-tip pen
Instituteur Primary school teacher
Professeur Teacher
Tableau Board

Clothing (les vêtements/les habits)

“Clothes is just something you put on to cover yourself… fashion is a way to communicte”, Dries Van Noten.

Fashion represents such an important part of the French everyday life. Chanel, Jean-Paul Gauthier and so many other French couturiers are centre stage when it comes to fashion!

French English
Bermuda Bermuda shorts
Chemise Shirt
Jupe Skirt
Pantalon Pants, trousers
Robe Dress
Short Shorts
Sous-vêtement Underwear
Tenue Outfit, clothes
Textile Textile
Tissu Fabric, material

Coffee (café)

I don’t know about you but most days it feels like without a coffee I won’t be able to face the world…

French English
Arabica Arabica
Café crème White coffee, flat white
Café soluble Instant coffee
Caféine Caffeine
Cafetière Coffee maker, coffee machine
Cuillère Spoon
Décaféiné (décà) Decaffeinated coffee
Expresso Expresso
Tasse Cup, mug
Torréfaction Roasting

Colors (les couleurs)

Allen Klein once said “ your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up”.
Do you agree?

There’s a little spelling rule for you (cause, yes, I can’t help being a bit geeky and, yes, grammar, spelling and syntax are never off my mind…). Because “orange” and “marron” are, as well as being colors, both common nouns (respectively meaning “orange” and “conker”), they don’t take a “s” in the plural form.

French English
Blanc White
Bleu Blue
Jaune Yellow
Marron Brown
Noir Black
Orange Orange
Rose Pink
Rouge Red
Vert Green
Violet Purple

Computer (ordinateur)

Imagine what life would be nowadays without computers! Having an IT device is a must but do you know any French words which are computer related?

French English
Clavier Keyboard, keypad
Écran Screen
Imprimante Printer
Informatique IT, information technology, computer science, computing
Logiciel Software, program
Mémoire Memory, RAM, ROM
Modem Modem
Ordinateur portable Laptop
Processeur Processor
Souris Mouse

Construction (construction)

Imagine having your own house being built in France!! I got mine done and what an amazing adventure it has been! Let’s give you some key words to be able to speak about this topic in French.

French English
Bâtiment Building, property
Béton Concrete
Chantier Construction site, building site, construction work, building work
Charpente Framework, frame, structure
Ciment Cement
Constructeur Builder
Construire To build
Maçonnerie Building work, masonry
Travaux publics Public work
Urbanisme Town planning

Country names (les noms de pays)

Do you like Geography? It never was my favourite subject at online school, I must admit… It’s time to brush your  (our) knowledge and to revise some country names.

French English
Angleterre England
Australie Australia
Chine China
Espagne Spain
États-Unis USA
Japon Japan
Italie Italy
Portugal Portugal
Russie Russia
Nouvelle-Zélande New-Zeland

Cruise (croisière)

Close your eyes and picture this: you and your loved one on a Mediterranean cruise sipping cocktails and enjoying the sunshine. It sounds so perfect!

French English
Bateau Boat, ship
Bord Bank
Destination Destination
Mer Sea
Navigation Boating, cruising
Paquebot Liner
Port Port, harbour
Port de plaisance Marina
Traversée Crossing
Voyage Journey, trip

Cycling (cyclisme)

Cycling
This sport is particularly appreciated by French people who follow the Tour de France every year. It represents a very important sporting event!

French English
Bicyclette Bicycle, bike
Casque Helmet
Classement Rankings
Contre-la-montre Time trial
Cycliste Cyclist, cycling competitor, bicycle racer
Étape Stage
Maillot Jersey, shirt
Piste cyclable Bicycle path
Sport Sport
Vélo Bike

Daily routine (routine quotidienne)

Every single one of us has his/her own little daily routine but would you know how to express yours in French?

French English
Déjeuner To lunch
Écouter la radio To listen to the radio
Faire de l’exercice To do exercise
Habitude Habit, custom, wont
Lire To read
Regarder la télévision To watch TV
Se brosser les dents To brush one’s teeth
Se coiffer To do somebody’s hair
Se laver To have a wash
Se lever To get up

Dairy products (les produits laitiers)

Ask any French person to tell you about dairy products and the first thing that will come to their mind is the song of a daily product advert on tele, “les produits laitiers sont nos amis pour la vie” (dairy products are our friends for life). More seriously, here are some words on this topic.

French English
Beurre Butter
Chantilly Chantilly
Crème Cream
Desserts lactés Dairy dessert
Fromage Cheese
Lait Milk
Laitage Dairy produce
Margarine Margarine
Petit-lait Whey
Yaourt Yogurt

Date (date)

Even though, it can be rather scary how time flies, it is important to be able to say the date or anything related to the date.

French English
Année Year
Antidater To antedate
Calendrier Calendar
Chronologie Chronology
Éphéméride Tear-off calendar, block calendar
Jour Day
Mois Month
Naissance Birth
Semaine Week
Temps Time

Days of the week (les jours de la semaine)

In the same topic, here are the days of the week.

French English
Lundi Monday
Mardi Tuesday
Mercredi Wednesday
Jeudi Thursday
Vendredi Friday
Samedi Saturday
Dimanche Sunday
Week-end Weekend
Hebdomadaire Weekly

Desserts (les desserts)

Call to all desserts lovers out there!! The French gastronomy is known worldwide and French desserts clearly do honour to this reputation!

French English
Biscuit Biscuit, cookie
Entremets Dessert, sweet, pudding
Fruit Fruit
Gâteau Cake
Glace Ice-cream
Pain perdu French toast, bread pudding
Pâtisserie Pastry, cake, baking, pastry cooking, patisserie
Sorbet Sorbet
Sucré Sugary, sweet
Tarte Tart, pie

Dining room (salle à manger)

In France, probably more than anywhere else in the world, families usually have their evening meal together in the dining room.

French English
Buffet Sideboard, dresser
Convive Guest
Déjeuner To lunch
Dîner To dine
Petit-déjeuner To have breakfast
Pièce Room
Repas Meal
Salon Living room
Se mettre à table To sit at the table
Table Table

Directions (les directions)

As a traveller, you will necessarily need to ask for directions when visiting France or any French-speaking country. Here is a list of words to help you!

French English
Déviation Diversion, diverting
Droite Right
Faire demi-tour To turn round
Gauche Left
GPS Sat-Nav, GPS
Navigateur Navigator
Orientation Sense of direction
Se perdre To get lost
Sens Way
Virage Bend, turn

Driving (conduite)

Driving is a must in France as there are so many long roads to travel from one place to another. Get ready to go miles and miles without any sign of human life! Landscapes, landscapes and more beautiful landscapes coming your way!

French English
Auto-école Driving school
Chauffeur Driver, chauffeur
Circulation Traffic
Conducteur Driver
Conduire To drive
Direction Direction, way
Pilotage Piloting
Routière Road, highway
Route Road
Voiture Car

Economics (économie)

“But what I really believe is education is a key to pretty much everything – prosperity, economics, peace, stability”, Greg Mortenson.

French English
Budget Budget, finances
Capitalisme Capitalism
Chômage Unemployment
Consommation Consumption, use
Croissance Growth
Économiste Economist
Épargne Saving
Mondialisation Globalisation
Monétaire Monetary
Productivité Productivity, productiveness

Education (éducation)

Some food for thought : « Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world », Nelson Mandela.

French English
Apprentissage Learning, learning process
Collège Secondary school, high school, middle school, junior school
École School
Enseignement Teaching
Formation Schooling, training, course
Instruction Education
Lycée College, sixth form
Pédagogie Teaching skills, educational method
Scolaire Academic, eductional, scholastic
Université University

Emergency (urgence)

Touch wood, it won’t be the case but you might end up in a situation that calls for immediate action. If so, here are so useful words.

French English
Appel d’urgence Emergency call
Arrêt d’urgence Emergency stop
Couverture de survie Emergency blanket, space blanket
Issue de secours, sortie de secours Emergency exit
Les urgences Casualty
Numéro d’urgence Emergency phone number
Premiers secours, soins de premiers secours Emergency care
Réserves Emergency rations
SAMU Emergency ambulance service
Services d’urgence Emergency service

Equestrian (équestre, hippique)

Whether you like the sport, horses or having a bet on a horse, this list is made for you !

French English
Cavalerie Cavalry
Cavalier, cavalière Horserider
Cheval Horse
Écuyer Horseman, horsewoman
Équin Equine
Équitation Horse riding, horsebck riding
Hippodrome Racecourse, racetrack
Palefrenier Groom, ostler
Sabot Hoof
Saut d’obstacle Show jumping

Essential (essentiel)

Stephen Covey said « Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships ». For you, what is essential in life ?

French English
Dominant Dominant, main
Enjeu Issue, concern
Fondamental Crucial, essential, fundamental
Important Important
Indispensable Vital, essential, compulsary, obligatory
Nécessaire Necessary, needed
Nécessité Necessity, requirement, obligation
Primordial Primordial, essential
Principal Main
Vital Vital, essential

Family members (les membres de la famille)

Where would we be without our family ? Whether they are close or far, family members are people we should always be close to. Having said that, there is a famous saying in France : « on choisit ses amis mais on ne choisit pas sa famille » (we choose our friends but not our family »…

French English
Cousin, cousine Cousin
Fille Daughter
Fils Son
Frère Brother
Grand-parent Grandparent
Mère Mother
Oncle Uncle
Père Father
Sœur Sister
Tante Aunt, auntie

Farm (ferme)

For some people living in a farm is a fantastic way of life. I think I’d rather go to a farm on a day out… I’m way to used to my own little comfort.

French English
Agriculteur Farmer
Basse-cour Barn, barnyard
Charrue Plough, plow
Cultiver To cultivate, to grow, to farm
Élevage Farming, livestock farming
Étable Barn, cowshed
Exploitation agricole Farm
Grange Barn
Labourer To plough, to plow, to dig over, to turn the soil
Verger Orchard

Fast food (fast-food)

Ever watched the film « supersize me » ? So, yes, the consequences of eating fast food regularly can be totally terrible but who has never enjoyed just ordering some food and chilling in front of the tele ? I know I’m guilty of this (well everu now and again).

French English
Cafétéria Canteen, cafeteria, lunch room
Commander To order
Hamburger Burger
Livrer To deliver
Malbouffe Junk food
Prêt à manger Ready to eat
Pizza Pizza
Restaurant Restaurant
Restauration rapide Fast food
Snack Snack bar

Feelings (sentiments)

« Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts ? », Confucius.
What is the best feeling you’ve ever had ? Mine definitely has to be when I first met my sons !

French English
Affection Affection
Amitié Friendship
Amour Love
Attachement Attachment, emotional attachment, affection, fondness
Désir Desire, yearning, longing, craving
Émotion Emotion
Haine Hatred
Jalousie Jealousy
Tendresse Tenderness, softness
Tristesse Sadness

First aid (premiers secours)

This topic completes the topic « emergency ».

French English
Croix-Rouge Red Cross
Porter secours To rescue, to save
Secourir To rescue, to save
Secourisme First aid
Secouriste First aider, first-aid worker
Secours Help, assistance, aid
Soigner To treat
Soin Care, treatment
Urgence Emergency

Fish and seafood (poisson et fruits de mer)

I absolutely love seafood ! Nothing beats it for me. Well, actually, what is better than eating seafood ? Eating seafood with a lovely glass of French white wine of course !

French English
Bouillabaisse Bouillabaisse (French fish stew)
Chalutier Trawler, fishing boat
Coquillage Shellfish
Crevette Prawn
Filet Fish fillet
Huître Oyster
Mollusque Mollusc, mollusk
Pêche Angling, fishing
Pêcheur Angler, fisherman
Poissonnier, poissonnière Fish monger, fish seller

Fitness (fitness)

« Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live », Jim Rohn.

French English
Aérobic Aerobics
Cardio Cardio
Entraînement Training
Faire de l’exercice To do some exercises
Forme Shape, form, fettle
Pilates Pilates
Remise en forme Fitness
Salle de sports Gym
Step Step
Zumba Zumba

Flowers (les fleurs)

Offering flowers certainly is a good start to get to a woman’s heart ! Do you give or receive many ?

French English
Bouquet Bunch, bouquet
Corolle Corolla
Étamine Stamen
Fleuriste Florist
Floraison Flowering, blossoming
Pétale Petal
Pistil Pistil
Plante Plant
Pollen Pollen
Tige Stem, stalk

Food (la nourriture)

This is a very important topic to know about as French people love their food so much (and, realistically, who wouldn’t when you  know how delicious the French cuisine is!!).

French English
Aliment Food
Alimentation Diet, nutrition, eating and drinking, feeding
Bon appétit Enjoy your meal
Estomac Stomach
Malnutrition Malnutrition
Manger To eat
Nourrir To feed
Nutriment Nutrient
Nutrition Nutrition
Régime Diet

Football (football)

I’ve never been a big football fan but being the only woman at home and being surrounded by three boys (my partner and our two sons), I’ve had no choice but to start watching football. In fact, I’ve become my son’s number one fan and I’m probably the loudest mum encouraging her kid on the pitch now. Embarrassing… Do you like football ? Ask any French person about football and the first thing they will mention is the 1998 football world cup  ! « Et un, et deux, et trois, zéro !! ».

French English
Arbitre Referee
Ballon Ball
But Goal
Cage Net, goal
Gardien Goalkeeper
Les Bleus Name of the French football team
Match Match
Mi-temps Half-time
Protège-tibia Shin pad
Terrain de foot / de football Football pitch

French words used in English (mots français utilisés en anglais)

Do you know why there are so many French words in the English language ? It’s thanks to William the Conqueror (Guillaume le Conquérant). Indeed, he was the duke of Normandy and became king of England in 1066 when he won the battle of Hastings.

He brought with him the French language. At the time, French was mainly spoken by the nobility and English by the people. Nowadays, there are very often two ways to express the same thing, one with a French root and one with an English one !

French words

ending in -tion

French words

ending in -ble

French words

ending in -ible

Action      Adorable Accessible
Attention     Comfortable Audible
Communication     Stable
Compétition      Table
Connexion     Visible
Information
Justification
Télévision
Transformation

Some words differ from the English language because they have a circumflex accent. This accent is present in French words because the letter « s » used to follow a vowel which is still the case in English.

French English
Forêt Forest
Hôpital Hospital

To help you finding what you’re looking for, I’ve listed French words used in the English language in categories.

Food

À la carte
Apéritif
Bon appétit
Café
Chef
Hors d’oeuvre
Menu
Omelette
Pique-nique
Restaurant
Salade
Soupe
Vinaigrette

Fashion

Chic
Couture
Haute-couture
Petite
Prêt-à-porter
Silhouette

Other common words used in French

À propos
Bon voyage
Bouquet
Bourgeois
Boutique
Chauffeur
Cliché
Critique
Déjà vu
Eau de cologne
En route
Entrepreneur
Fiancé
Genre
Joie de vivre
Souvenir

Hope you have found everything you needed in this French vocabulary guide !

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