50+ Basic French Language Words You Need to Know Before Getting Started

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basic french language words

Bonjour étudiants, comment allez-vous? We know how you long to string together some basic French language words and pull off that flawless accent like a native. But learning a new language takes a lot of time and patience, and the same goes for French! The “Language of Love” will require you to master endless exceptions, grammar, and confusing spellings! Not to worry though, learning French in bits and pieces can help you understand the language from scratch. So let’s get started by learning some common words in French language that you should know. Bon voyage!


Also Read: How to Learn French Quickly? Here are 10 tips to Master the Language!

Understanding the “Language of Love”

Before we dive headfirst into the basic French language words, let’s get to know the origins of the language better. Belonging to an Indo-European group of dialects, French is also known as a Romance language. Its descent can be traced back to Vulgar Latin, spoken by the common people of the Roman Empire. Being the second-most spoken European Language, French is well on its way to becoming the world’s most-spoken language by 2050. Here are some other interesting facts and figures about the language:

  1. French is the world’s 5th most spoken language, with more than 270 million speakers globally.
  2. It’s an official language in 29 countries and is spoken on all 6 continents.
  3. French is one of the 6 official languages of the United Nations (UN) and a working language for organizations like UNESCO and NATO.
  4. Almost 45% of English words have French roots!
  5. French has beautiful and distinct accents that vary with every region of France.

Amazing, right? No wonder you are so eager to be called a Francophone as well. But first, we need to lay the foundation for the language by learning the fundamentals i.e. vocabulary. Keep reading to know more!

french language interesting facts

List of Basic French Language Words with Meanings

To start with, you need to be familiar with the basic French language words and phrases used in everyday conversation. Knowing these greetings and their meanings can help you understand the French language and culture better and interact with the natives easily. Here’s the list:

WordPronunciationMeaning in English
Bonjourbohn-zhoorHello/Good morning!
Mercimehr-seeThank you!
Au Revoiroh-ruh-vwarGoodbye
Bonsoirboh-n-swahrGood evening
A bientotah byan-tohSee you soon
Bonne journeebon-zhoor-nayHave a good day
Enchanteahn-shahn-tayNice to meet you!
S’il vous plaitsee-voo-playPlease
Beaucoupboh-kooA lot
Excusez moiek-skoo-zay mwahExcuse me
Je vous en priezhuh-voo-zahn-preeYou’re welcome
Je suis désolé/désoléezhuh-swi-deh-so-layI am sorry
A demainah duh-mahnSee you tomorrow!
Bon Appetitboh-n-apatitEnjoy your meal!

Over time, its popularity has led French to influence other dialects worldwide, especially English. Let’s take a look at it in the upcoming section.

Also Read: Similarities Between English and French

50 Basic French Language Words Commonly Used in English

Believe it or not, around 45% of English vocabulary has French roots! The Norman conquest of England in 1066 played a big role in this, as the French language of the nobility influenced English over time. Many words like “déjà vu,” “café,” and “restaurant” all come from French. Given below is a list of 50 basic French language words that we know and use daily in English: 

WordMeaning in English
EntrepreneurSomeone who starts their own business
LiaisonA connection or link between people or organizations
RendezvousA planned meeting at a specific time and place
Crème de la crèmeThe very best (literally “cream of the cream”)
ChateauA large, luxurious house or castle
ChauffeurA professional driver, especially for a wealthy person
ReservoirA large artificial lake used to store water
PoignantDeeply moving or emotional
AviationThe flying of aircraft
VoguePopular fashion or style at a particular time
ChagrinGreat grief or sorrow
RogueA dishonest or unprincipled person
BureaucracyAdministration systems associated with large organizations, especially with complex procedures
ZestEnthusiasm or liveliness
UtensilKitchen tool
PremiereFirst public performance of a play, film, or other work
JubileeA special celebration of an anniversary
ParoleA promise made by a prisoner to behave well after being released early from jail
SouvenirA memento of a place or event
VenueThe place where a particular event or activity is held
MirageAn illusion caused by the distortion of light in the atmosphere
ChicStylish and elegant
FacadeFalse outer appearance
ForteStrong point or talent
SabotageTo destroy something deliberately
À la carteSeparate items on the menu
MenuList of dishes offered in a restaurant
CroissantHalf moon-shaped pastry
OmeletteFlat egg dish
Hors d’œuvreAppetizer before a meal
VinaigretteSalad dressing
Cordon bleuGreat cook 
CroutonToasted/fried pieces of bread, usually served with a salad or a soup
CaféCoffee/Coffee house
SouffléFluffy dish (sweet or savoury)
À la modeFashionable, stylish/with ice cream
SommelierWine steward/collector
SautéFried in a small amount of oil
ApéritifPre-dinner drink
BéchamelA Mixture of butter, milk and flour
Maître d’hôtelHead waiter
GarageCovered parking
CinémaMovie theater or movies

To learn more commonly used French words in English, you can also check out the tutorial below.

Quiz on Basic French Language Words

It’s time for a quick revision! Answer the following questions to test your knowledge of basic French language words so far:

Q1 – True or False: A façade is the same thing as the reality of something.

Q2 – Fill in the Blank: The _________ is the first public performance of a play or film.

Q3 – Match the following words with their correct meanings:

a) Château1. A professional driver
b) Chauffeur2. A deeply moving or emotional experience
c) Crème de la crème3. A large, luxurious house or castle
d) Poignant4. The very best

Q4 – True or False: A liaison is a connection between people or organizations.

Answers: A1 – False, A2 – Premiere, A3 – a): 3; b): 1; c): 4; d) 2, A4 – True

Relevant Reads:

What are French Prepositions: Meaning, Exercises With AnswersTop 10 Free French Lessons for Beginners with Certificates 
French Education System: A Complete Guide for International GuideList of French Adverbs with English Translation
Your Guide to Best Online French Courses with CertificatesDELF Exam: French Proficiency Tests


Q.1 What are the basic French Language words?

Answer: Here‘s a list of some basic French language words for beginners to know:

1. Bonjour – hello/good morning
2. Salut – hello (informal)
3. Bonne journee – Have a good day
4. Au revoir – goodbye
5. Bonsoir – good evening
6. Bonne nuit – good night
7. Enchante – Nice to meet you!
8. Oui – yes
9. Non – no
10. S’il vous plaît – please

Q.2 Which words in English language have French origins?

Answer: Given below are some English words that can trace their origins back to French language:

1. Entrepreneur
2. Liaison
3. Rendezvous
4. Crème de la crème
5. Chateau
6. Chauffeur
7. Reservoir
8. Poignant
9. Aviation
10. Vogue

Q.3 How do I start basic French?

Here’s how you can learn French as a novice:

1. Understand and learn French sounds.
2. Grasp basic rules of pronunciation.
3. Practice speaking and writing French regularly.
4. Create a list of basic French verbs, nouns, and pronouns.
5. Take help from language learning apps like Duolingo.
6. Watch French movies and TV shows.
7. Master basic French grammar rules.
8. Keep expanding your French vocabulary through books and podcasts.
9. Research and immerse yourself in the French culture.

So these are some basic French language words you can start with in your journey of learning French. Explore Leverage Edu’s study abroad resources to learn a new language of your choice. Ready, set, lingo!

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