The 100 most common French words with example sentences

Have you ever heard of the Pareto principle? It states that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts put into them.

Applied to language learning, this rule means that people use 20% of the words they know 80% of the time.

This is not a perfectly accurate number, of course, but it highlights an essential fact: You don’t need to know lots of vocabulary to quickly speak and understand French. You need to learn the 20% of words you’ll find in 80% of conversations and the 20% of grammar rules that’ll help you understand how 80% of sentences work.

These are the words the French Together app focuses on because knowing them is the fastest way to quickly speak French with confidence.

So without further ado, here are the 100 most common French words based on a list from Open Subtitles!

Tiles with letters and small point numbers, like those in the game Scrabble, falling in front of a black background.

1. je – “I”. Example: Je suis fatigué. (I am/I’m tired.)

2. de – “of”, “from”, “by”, “with”, depending on the context. Example: Voici la maison de Julien. (Here is Julien‘s house.)

3. est the third person singular present form of the verb être (to be). Like all present-tense être conjugations, it’s used in its own right or as an auxiliary with verbs that are conjugated with être in compound tenses. Example: Il est grand. (He is tall.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate être.

4. pas – not. Pas is usually paired with ne to form a negative statement. Example: Il n‘est pas ici. (He is not here.) To learn more about using pas, you can read our article on how to make negative sentences in French.

5. le  “the”, for masculine words. Example: Le musée du Louvre se trouve à Paris. (The Louvre museum is located in Paris.)

6. vous – the form of “you” used to address someone you don’t know or to whom you want to show respect (or distance). It’s also the plural form of “you”. Example: Vous avez raison. (You are right.)

7. la –  “the”, for feminine words. Example: C’est la robe que je voudrais acheter. (This is the dress I’d like to buy.)

8. tu the informal way of saying “you“. You can use it with kids, friends, and people you know well. Note that if you’re addressing more than one person, you always have to use vous instead, even if you’re talking to people in these categories. Example: Tu vas à Bordeaux. (You’re going to Bordeaux.)

9. que  has a few different meanings, but  most frequently used to say “that”, or “what”. Example: J‘espère que tu seras là. (I hope (that) you will be there.)

10. un –  the number one, or the indefinite article (the equivalent of “a” or “an” in English) that is used with masculine nouns. Example: Un café s‘il-vous-plaît. (A coffee, please.)

11. il  “he”, or “it” for a masculin noun. Example: Il est gentil. He is nice. 

12. et – “and”. Example: J‘aime les macarons et les gâteaux. (I like macarons and cakes.)

13. à  a preposition that usually translates to “to” or “at”. Example: Il est à la maison. (He is at home.)

14. a  – Without an accent, a is the third person singular form of the verb avoir (to have) conjugated in the present simple tense. Like all present-tense avoir conjugations, it’s used in its own right or as an auxiliary with many other verbs. Example: Elle a deux frères. (She has two brothers.)  You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate avoir.

15. ne – a word indicating a negative statement. It’s usually paired with another word, most often pas.  To create negative sentences in French, you will usually put ne right before the verb, and the other negative word it’s paired with — which will usually be pas — right after. Example: Je ne veux pas manger. (I don‘t want to eat.) To learn more about using pas, you can read our article about how to make negative sentences in French.

16. les – “the”, used with plural nouns. These can be masculine, feminine, or both. Example: Les amis de Marie sont là. (Marie‘s friends are here.)

17. ce – “this“ or “that“, used with singular masculine words. Example: Ce parfum est cher. (This perfume is expensive.)

18. en a pronoun most commonly used to indicate quantity, location, time, or the means by which something is accomplished. Depending on the context, it could be translated to “in”, “some”, “of” or “by the means of”. Example: Je suis en France. (I am in France.)

19. on  an indefinite pronoun that can mean “one“,  “we“, or the abstract “they”. Regardless of which this would translate to, verbs with on are always conjugated according to the rules of third person singular (il/elle) pronouns. Example: On fait quoi ce soir ?  (What are we doing tonight?)

20. ça – a shortened and slightly more informal form of the pronoun cela. It can mean “it“ or “that“. Example: Ça suffit. (That’s enough.)

21. unethe indefinite article equivalent to “a“ or “an“ that is used with feminine nouns, or the feminine form of the number one.  Example: Il a acheté une bouteille d’eau. (He bought a bottle of water.)

22. ai – is the first person present tense conjugation of the verb avoir (to have). Example: J’ai deux chats. (I have two cats.) Like all present-tense avoir conjugations, it’s used in its own right or as an auxiliary with many other verbs. You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb avoir.

23. pour – “for”. Example: J‘ai quelque chose pour toi. (I have something for you.)

24. des a plural indefinite article that translates to “some” or simply indicates more than one subject, since most French nouns must be preceded by an article of some sort. It’s the plural form of the indefinite articles un and une and is used to refer to multiple objects or people. Example: J‘ai des amis en Italie. (I have friends in Italy.)

25. moi – “me”. Example: C‘est moi. It‘s me.

26. qui – As an interrogative pronoun, qui means “who“ or “whom“. It can also be used as a relative pronoun, in which case it means “which“, “who“, “whom“ or “that“. Example: Qui est là ? (Who is/Who’s there?)

27. nous – “we”. Example: Nous mangeons du pain. (We eat/ are eating bread.)

28. y -refers to a place, or to an idea already mentioned in a conversation. It can often be translated as “there”. Example: Nous y allons (We are going there.)

29. mais – in most cases, the equivalent of “but“. Example:  J‘aime les fraises, mais je n‘aime pas les oranges. (I like strawberries but I don‘t like oranges.)

30. me can be: 1. a reflexive pronoun that is used with first person singular reflexive verbs , 2. a direct object pronoun, or 3. an indirect object pronoun. When paired with a reflexive verb, you could roughly translate it to “me” or “myself”. When it’s used as a direct or indirect object pronoun, it translates to “me” or “to me”. Examples: (As a reflexive pronoun): Je me réveille à 8 heures tous les jours. I wake up at 8 am every day. (As a direct object pronoun):  Mes chats me font souvent rire. (My cats often make me laugh.)  (As an indirect object pronoun): Ils m’ont acheté un cadeau. (They bought me a gift.)

31. dans  a preposition that mainly means “in” or “inside“. It can also be used to express “within a period of time”.Example: Elle est dans sa chambre. (She is in her room.)

32. du – can mean “of the” for masculine nouns (it’s the contraction of de (of/from) and le (the form of “the” used with masculine nouns)). It can also mean “some“. Example: Je mange du pain. (I am eating some bread.)

33. bien  used as an adverb, bien means “well“. As an adjective, it means “good“. Ex: Très bien. Very good. You can read our article to learn more about how to use bien (and how it differs from bon).

34. elle – “she“. Example: Elle n‘est pas là. (She is not here.)

35. si – “if“ or a negative way to say “yes”. Examples: (As “if”): Je ne sais pas si elle viendra. (I don‘t know if she will come.) (As a negative “yes”): – Tu n’aimes pas les huîtres ? – Si, je les aime. (“You don’t like oysters?” “Yes I do (like them).”)

36. tout – “all” or “everything”. Example: Il a tout mangé. He ate everything.

37. plus  is usually an adverb used to make comparisons and say “more”. Example: Jean est plus grand que Marc. Jean is taller than Marc.

38. non “no“. Example: –Ça va ?- Non, je suis triste. (“Are you okay?” “No, I’m sad.”) If you want to learn more about using non, you can read our article on how to make negative statements in French.

39. mon – “my“, but only before masculine words and words starting with a vowel. Example: Mon ami habite dans cette maison. (My friend lives in this house.)

40. suis – the most frequent use of this word is as the first person singular present form of the verb être (to be). Example: Je suis fatigué(e). (I am tired.) Like all present-tense être conjugations, it’s used in its own right or as an auxiliary with verbs that are conjugated with être in compound tenses.You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate être. And you may also want to look at our glossary page on how to use Je suis.

41. te  can be: 1. a reflexive pronoun that is used with second person singular reflexive verbs 2. ,a direct object pronoun, or 3. an indirect object pronoun. When paired with a reflexive verb, you could roughly translate it to “you” or “yourself”. When it’s used as a direct or indirect object pronoun, it translates to “you” or “to you”. Examples: (As a reflexive pronoun): Tu me couches à 22 heures tous les soirs. You go to bed at 10pm every night. (As a direct object pronoun):  Je t’aime. (I love you (te drops the “e” and takes an apostrophe before a word with a vowel.)  (As an indirect object pronoun): Tes parents t’ont acheté une maison! (Your parents bought you a house!)

42. au – “to the”/”at the”. It’s the contraction of à and le (“to” and “the”). It‘s only used before masculine words. Example: Je vais au cinéma. (I am going to the cinema.)

43. avec – “with“. Example: Il mange avec Sarah. (He is eating with Sarah.)

44. va – the third person singular conjugation of the verb aller (to go). It is also used as the second person singular imperative. Example: Le train va à Paris. (The train is going to Paris.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb aller.

45. oui – “yes”.  Example: Oui, j‘ai faim. (Yes, I am hungry.)

46. toi  – a pronoun that means “you” in the second person singular. It is used for emphasis, with a preposition, or with the imperative form.  Example: Il est avec toi. (He is with you.)

47. fait  the third person singular present of the verb faire (to do, to make), or the past participle of faire. More rarely, used as a noun it means “fact“. Example: Il fait chaud, c‘est un fait. (It‘s hot, that‘s a fact.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb faire.

48. ils  “they“ when talking about a group of masculine people/things, or a group of both masculine and feminine people/things. However, if you are talking about women/feminine nouns only, you need to use elles instead. Example: Ils sont partis. (They’re gone.)

49. as – the second person singular present conjugation of the verb avoir (to have). Like all present-tense avoir conjugations, it’s used in its own right or as an auxiliary with many other verbs. Example: Est-ce que tu as du temps demain ? (Do you have time tomorrow?) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb avoir.

50. être -”to be“. Its present-tense conjugations can also be used as auxiliaries with verbs that are conjugated with être in compound tenses.Example: Ça ne peut pas être vrai. (That can’t be true.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate être.

51. faire – “to do“ or “to make“. It is also used as a component of a number of phrasal verbs. Example: Je ne sais pas quoi faire. (I don‘t know what to do.)  You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate faire.

52. se  is the third person singular and plural reflexive pronoun in French. It is also a personal pronoun. Se can be used with a pronominal verb, or with the passive voice. Example: Elle se repose. (She is resting.)  

53. comme a conjunction that most commonly means “like“, “how“, “as”, or “since”. Example: C‘est comme ça. (That’s how it is.)

54. était – the third person singular imperfect conjugation of the verb être (to be). Example: C’était génial. (It was great.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate être.

55. sur – a preposition with a few meanings, including  “on“, “on top of“, “above“, “out of“, and “about”. Example: Le livre est sur la table. (The book is on the table.)

56. quoi – one of several words that mean “what“ in French. Quoi is most commonly used three ways: 1. As a standalone statement of disbelief. 2. In a sentence, usually paired with a preposition. 3. As a word used for emphasis, not necessarily indicating a question. Example:  De quoi est-ce que tu parles ? What are you talking about? You can read our article to learn more about quoi.

57. ici  “here“. Example: Ce n‘est pas ici. (It‘s not here.)

58. sais – the first person singular present conjugation of the verb savoir (to know). Example: Je sais comment y aller. (I know how to go (there).) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb savoir.

59. lui – most often means”him“. But when used as an indirect object pronoun, it can mean “her” as well (Ex: . Lui can be used for emphasis, after a preposition, or as an indirect object pronoun.  Example: Elle lui parle. (She is talking to him.)

60. veux – both the first and second person singular present conjugation of the verb vouloir (to want). Example: Je veux manger et tu veux manger – alors, mangeons ! (I want to eat and you want to eat, so let’s eat!) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb vouloir.

61. ma -”my“, used only with feminine nouns. Example: Il était avec ma mère. (He was with my mother.)  

62. –  most often means “here“or  sometimes “there“ Example: Selon la carte, le trésor se trouve là, sous nos pieds. (According to the map, the treasure is here, beneath our feet.)

63. rien – “nothing“. Example: -Qu’est-ce que tu fais ce soir ? – Rien de spécial. (“What are you doing tonight?” “Nothing special.”)

64. dit – the third person singular present and past participle of dire (to say). Example: Il dit qu‘il n‘a rien fait. (He says he didn’t do anything.)

65. es – the second person singular present of être (to be). Like all present-tense être conjugations, it’s used in its own right or as an auxiliary with verbs that are conjugated with être in compound tenses. Example: Est-ce que tu es au restaurant avec Paul ? (Are you at the restaurant with Paul?) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb être.

66. – “where“. Example: Où est le musée ? (Where is the museum?)

67. votre  the form of “your” associated with vous, and thus used with someone you’d address formally, or with multiple people. It is used when talking about ownership of singular (as opposed to plural) nouns. Example: Voici votre manteau. Here is your coat.

68. pourquoi  “why”. Example: Pourquoi est-ce que tu ne viens pas demain ? (Why aren’t you coming tomorrow?)

69. sont – the third person plural conjugation of the verb être (to be) in the present simple tense. Ex: Ils sont Français. (They are French.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb être.

70. cette -”this“, used with feminine singular nouns. Example: J‘adore cette chanson. (I love this song.)

71. quand – “when“. Example: Quand est-ce que tu pars ? (When are you leaving?)  

72. par – A preposition with many meanings, most commonly “through“, “by“, or “per“. Example: Tu dois passer par la cuisine pour accéder à la salle des bains. (You have to go through the the kitchen to get to the bathroom.)

73. son  “his”, “her”, or “its”. It‘s only used before singular, masculine nouns. Less commonly, as a noun (le son) this word means “sound”. Example: Son fils s’appelle Tom. (His son is called Tom.)

74. ton a form of your“ associated with tu, which means it’s only used when referring to someone you’re close to or on an informal basis with. It’s only used before singular masculine nouns. Example: C‘est ton livre ? (Is this your book?)

75. peux  is the first person singular conjugation of the verb pouvoir (can) in the present simple tense. Example: Je peux y aller demain. (I can go there tomorrow.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb pouvoir.

76. vais – the first person singular form of the verb aller (to go) in the present simple tense. Example: Je vais à l‘école tous les jours. (I go to school every day.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb aller.

77. toi  a form of the informal “you” that’s used with a preposition, for emphasis, or with the imperative tense. Example: Il est avec toi. (He is with you.)

78. dire – the infinitive of the verb “to say“. Example: Je ne sais pas quoi dire. (I don‘t know what to say.)

79. alors – most commonly means “then“ (consequence of something) or “so”. Example: Alors, quand est-ce qu‘on y va ? (So, when are we going?) To learn more about alors,have a look at its page in the French Together glossary.

80. comment  “how“. Example: Comment allez-vous ? (How are you?)

81. avez –  the present perfect conjugation of the verb avoir (to have) that is used with vous (the formal or plural “you”). Like all present-tense avoir conjugations, it’s used in its own right or as an auxiliary with many other verbs. Example: Vous avez une impressionnante collection de timbres ! (You have an impressive stamp collection!)  You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb avoir.

82. bon – “good”, used with masculine singular nouns. Example: J‘aime le chocolat, c‘est bon. (I like chocolate, it‘s good.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use bon (and how it differs from the word bien).

83. ou – “or”. Not to be confused with  , which means “where“. Example: Cet été, je voudrais aller au Japon ou à Costa Rica. (This summer I would like to go to Japan or to Costa Rica.)

84. très – “very“. Example: C’est très bon. (It’s very good.)

85. merci – “Thank you“. Example: Merci beaucoup. (Thank you very much.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use Merci, as well as other ways to say “Thank you” in French.

86. ont –  the present perfect conjugation of the verb avoir (to have) in the third person plural. Like all present-tense avoir conjugations, it’s used in its own right or as an auxiliary with many other verbs. Example: Ils ont une maison en Bretagne. (They have a house in Brittany.)  You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb avoir.

87. même – “even“ as an adverb or “same“ as an adjective or noun. Example: C‘est la même voiture qu‘hier. (It‘s the same car as yesterday.)

88. jamais  “never“. Example:  Il n‘est jamais en retard. (He is never late.)

89. aussi – “also/too“, or “as“ if used in a comparison, paired with the word que. Examples: Moi aussi, j’aime le chocolat. (I also like chocolate.);  (Comparison): Elle est aussi belle que sa sœur. (She is as beautiful as her sister.)

90. voir  the infinitive of the verb “to see”. Example: J’irai les voir demain. (I’ll go see them tomorrow.) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb voir.

91. chose – “thing“. Example: Oh là là, j’ai trop de choses à faire aujourd’hui ! (Oh my goodness, I have too many things to do today!)

92. allez  the present simple conjugation of the verb aller that is used with the second person formal or plural “you” (vous). It’s also an imperative form and is often a rally cry you’ll hear at sports events. Examples:  Où est-ce que vous allez dimanche ? (Where are you going on Sunday?); Allez les Bleus ! (Go Blues – aka, Go France/The National Team of France!) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb aller.

93. tous  “all” with plural nouns; “everyone”. Example:  Ils sont tous partis. (They all left.)  

94. deux – “two“. Example:  Je voudrais deux croissants s‘il-vous-plaît. (I would like two croissants, please.) You can read our article to learn more about how to count and use numbers in French.

95. ces  “these“ or “those“.  Example:  J‘aime beaucoup ces chaussures. (I really like these shoes.)

96. faut   the present simple conjugation of the third person singular form of falloir (to have to/must). Example:  Il faut y aller. (We have to go.)  

97. sa – “his”, “her”, or “its”. It‘s only used before singular, feminine nouns.  Example: Il est avec sa mère. (He is with his mother.)

98. êtes – the present simple conjugation of the verb être (to be) that is used with the second person formal or plural “you” (vous). Like all present-tense être conjugations, it’s used in its own right or as an auxiliary with verbs that are conjugated with être in compound tenses. Example: Est-ce que vous êtes américain ? (Are you American?)  You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb être.

99. été – 1. As a verb: the past participle of être (to be) Note that in informal spoken French, it’s common to  hear J’ai été… to mean “I went…”. This is grammatically incorrect, so it’s best to avoid using it, but it’s important to recognize since it’s so frequently used.2. As a noun: “summer” (l’été). Examples: (As a verb) J’ai été un peu dûr avec elle.  (I was a bit hard on her.)  (As a noun): Qu‘est-ce que tu fais cet été ? (What are you doing this summer?) You can read our article to learn more about how to use and conjugate the verb être. Or, if you’re thinking of the other meaning of été, you may want to check out our article on how to talk about and enjoy the summer in France.  

100. ta   a form of ”your“ associated with tu, which means it’s only used when referring to someone you’re close to or on an informal basis with. It’s only used before singular feminine nouns. Example: Est-ce que c‘est ta voiture ? (Is this your car ?)


I hope this list of the 100 most common French words will be a helpful learning tool for you.

If you would like to learn these words in the context of real-life conversations, check out the French Together app! It will teach you everything you need to become a confident French speaker!

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Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. She recently published her first novel, Hearts at Dawn, a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that takes place during the 1870 Siege of Paris. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by her website.