That’s the number of French words you can find in the average French dictionary.
You don’t have to learn them all, but, you need to learn at least a few thousand words to understand most conversations.
That’s something you may not have the time or the desire to do.
What if I told you you don’t have to?
29% of English words come from French, which means you already know thousands of French words.
Today, you’ll discover the most common French words used in English!
- 1 How come there are so many French words in English?
- 2 53 French words every English speaker knows
- 3 Over to you
How come there are so many French words in English?
After the Norman Conquest of 1066, Anglo-Norman (old French) became the language of the elite in the UK.
For 300 years, Norman was the language the British elite used to distinguish itself from the population.
Back then, French was a clear way to say “I’m not like most people”.
That’s why you can find a huge amount of French words when you talk about luxury, food or boring things like the law.
53 French words every English speaker knows
Before you discover common French words used in English, remember that even though these words look (almost) identical, their pronunciation is different in French.
So make sure you follow these 7 French Pronunciation Tips if you don’t want to sound like a tourist.
French words ending in -tion
English words ending in -tion come from Latin. That’s why many of the -tion words are identical in French and in English.
Here are a few words in -tion that are commonly used in French and in English:
French words ending in ble
French words ending in ible
French words with a circumflex
The circumflex is the sign that a “s” used to follow a vowel in French. It’s once again a proof of the common origin of French and English.
- Hôpital VS hospital
- Forêt VS forest
When you talk about food in English, you’re almost guaranteed to use French words. Here are a few common French words used in English to talk about food and drinks.
- à la carte : when you want to order individual dishes which are not part of a pre-established sequence of courses.
- Bon appétit
- Hors d’oeuvre
- Chef (means boss in French and not only cook)
Other common French words used in English
- Déjà vu
- Eau de Cologne
- En route
- Joie de vivre
- A propos
- Bon voyage
As you can see some of these words are written differently in French, but I am sure you easily recognized them.
Beware though, some words written identically or similarly have a totally different meaning.
Take the word “préservatif” for example, one could easily think it means “preservative”, when it actually means…condom.
Over to you
Do you know other French words used in English? What are some French words you regularly use in English?