French Words and Phrases in English

Vannessa | 05 - 15 - 2022

The Normans conquered England in 1066 CE led by William I, the Duke of Normandy.  Consequently, an Anglo-Norman French began to influence the language, law, and culture in England. This was the beginning of using French words and phrases in English. The similarities between the two languages are a big advantage and also a disadvantage for English speakers learning French. However, nearly 10,000 English words originated from French. Not just French, there are many other languages noticed in English like Dutch, Spanish, etc. 

Guess how both languages are similar?

There are plenty of French words in English which have the same word and same meaning (cognate), and also the same word with a different meaning (false cognate). There are nearly 17,00 French cognates similar to English.

Are French words used in English?
  • A. Yes
  • B. No

Let us see some examples to understand them quickly. The ten French words used in English which make it easy for you to learn French are 

Cognate words 

Words that end with ion, al, able, ible, ance, ct, ence, ent, ant are the same in English and French.

  • Champion – champion
  • Vertical – vertical
  • Durable – durable
  • Horrible – horrible
  • Assurance – assurance
  • Respect –  respect
  • Independence –  indépendance
  • Amendment – amendement
  • Elephant – éléphant
  • Transparent – transparent

Many words that end with “ary -aire”, “ical-ique”, “ist-iste”, “ly-ment” from English to French

  • Extraordinary – extraordinaire
  • Symmetrical – symetrique
  • Dentist – dentiste
  • Immediately – immédiatement

False Cognate words 

French words that look similar to English but differ in meaning

  • Adept (English) and adepte (French): adept in English means highly skilled person and adepte in French means devotee
  • Blanket (English) and blanquette (French): blanket meaning in English is to cover someone or something and blanquette in French means stew
  • Chair (English) and chair (French): a chair in English means a seat and a chair in French means flesh.

French Phrases In English

In everyday life, we are regularly using English words from old French, the same way we even use some French phrases too. It’s quite interesting and funny recognizing them, follow me to have a closer look at them!

    • Bonjour! – Good Morning, Hello

    • Bienvenue – Welcome 

    • Pardon, excusez-moi – Pardon, Excuse me

    • Madame/Monsieur/Mademoiselle  – Mrs. /Mr. /Miss

    • Parlez-vous anglais? – Do you speak English?

    • Je ne parle pas français – I do not speak French

    • À tout à l’heure! – See you later!

    • Merci/Merci beaucoup. (Thank you/Thank you very much.) – Thank you/Thank you very much

  • Au revoir! – Goodbye

  • De rien. (You’re welcome. – You’re welcome

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