Bonjour! So you want to learn French, and looking for what that first step in your journey should be.
With so many options and free language tips offered online, it’s hard to know which advice to follow. But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. If you’re a complete beginner, there’s no better use of your time than learning the most common French words.
The reason is simple. All the technicalities of learning French, such as grammar rules, conversation skills, cognates, etc., are all meaningless until you have a foundation of French vocabulary. And the reason why you want to learn the most common French words is that it’ll save you massive amounts of time and effort.
Think about how you speak your native language today. How much of the total vocabulary you have ever learned is actually used in your everyday conversations with friends, coworkers, or spouse? Our guess is, less than 20%. There’s just no reason to frankly, as the most common words like ‘what’,’like’, ‘is’, ‘how’, etc. make up 80% of our sentences. Sure, this may vary slightly if you’re doing a business presentation or an interview, but you’re still using a fraction of the vocabulary you have learnt in the past.
The same applies for how you’ll speak in French. And if you know that ahead of time, then the best investment of your time will be spent in learning the most common words in French. Right?
In this post, we’ll share with you a list of 100 most common French words. Feel free to bookmark this article so you can come back to it and use it as a reference in the future!
Learning 88% of French in 100 days?
There was a study that was done correlating vocabulary knowledge with language understanding, and it found:
“Studying the first 1000 most frequently used words in the language will familiarize you with 76.0% of all vocabulary in non-fiction literature, 79.6% of all vocabulary in fiction literature, and 87.8% of vocabulary in oral speech.
Studying the 2000 most frequently used words will familiarize you with 84% of vocabulary in non-fiction, 86.1% of vocabulary in fictional literature, and 92.7% of vocabulary in oral speech.
And studying the 3000 most frequently used words will familiarize you with 88.2% of vocabulary in non-fiction, 89.6% of vocabulary in fiction, and 94.0% of vocabulary in oral speech.”
To bring this back to French, this means that once you have grasped 1,000 most common words, learning another 1,000 will only offer a 5% increase at best. Doesn’t seem like the best return of your effort, does it?
If you’re able to learn just ~30 new words a day, you can get to ~1,000 words in just 100 days. And as studies show, you could very well be familiar with ~88% of oral knowledge by achieving this milestone. If that encourages you to take action today, let’s reveal what you came here for.
100 Most Common List of French Words
1. le (det.) the; (pron.) him, her, it, them
2. de (det.) some, any; (prep.) of, from
3. un (det.) a, an; (adj., pron.) one
4. à (prep.) to, at, in
5. être (verb) to be; (noun [m.]) being
6. et (conj.) and
7. en (prep.) in, by; (adv., pron.)
8. avoir (verb) to have; (noun [m.]) assets
9. que (adv., pron., conj.) that, which, who, whom
10. pour (prep.) for, in order to
11. dans (prep.) in, into, from
12. ce (det., pron.) this, that
13. il (pron.) he, it
14. qui (pron.) who, whom
15. ne (adv.) not
16. sur (prep.) on, upon; (adj.) sour
17. se (pron.) oneself, himself, herself, itself, themselves
18. pas (adv.) not; (noun [m.]) footstep
19. plus (adv.) more, no more
20. pouvoir (verb) to be able to, can; (noun [m.]) power
21. par (prep.) by
22. je (pron.) I
23. avec (prep.) with
24. tout (adj., adv., pron., det.) all, very
25. faire (verb) to do, make
26. son (det.) his, her its; (noun [m.]) sound; bran
27. mettre (verb) to put, place
28. autre (det., pron.) other
29. on (pron.) one, we
30. mais (conj., adv.) but
31. nous (pron.) we, us
32. comme (conj., adv.) like, as
33. ou (conj.) or
34. si (conj.) if, whether; (adv.) so
35. leur (det., pron.) their, theirs, them
36. y (adv.) there; (pron.) it
37. dire (verb) to say; (noun [m.]) saying
38. elle (pron.) she, her
39. devoir (verb) to have to, owe; (noun [m.]) duty
40. avant (prep., adv.) before; (noun [m.]) front
41. deux (det., noun [m.]) two
42. même (adj., pron.) same; (adv.) even
43. prendre (verb) to take
44. aussi (adv.) to, also; (conj.) as
45. celui (pron.) that, the one, he, him
46. donner (verb) to give
47. bien (adv.) well; (noun [m.]) good
48. où (adv., pron.) where
49. fois (noun [f.]) time(s)
50. vous (pron.) you
51. encore (adv.) again, yet
52. nouveau (adj.) new; (noun [m.]) new (thing)
53. aller (verb) to go
54. cela (pron.) that, it
55. entre (prep.) between
56. premier (det., adj.) first
57. vouloir (verb) to want; (noun [m.]) will, desire
58. déjà (adv.) already
59. grand (adj., adv.) great, big, tall
60. mon (det.) my
61. me (pron.) me, to me, myself
62. moins (adv.) less; (prep., noun [m.]) minus
63. aucun (det., adj., pron.) none, either, neither, not any
64. lui (pron.) him, her
65. temps (noun [m.]) time
66. très (adv.) very
67. savoir (verb) to know; (noun [m.]) learning, knowledge
68. falloir (verb) to take, require, need
69. voir (verb) to see
70. quelque (det., adj., adv.) some
71. sans (prep.) without
72. raison (noun [f.]) reason
73. notre (det.) our
74. dont (pron.) whose, of which
75. non (adv.) no, not
76. an (noun [m.]) year
77. monde (noun [m.]) world, people
78. jour (noun [m.]) day
79. monsieur (noun [m.]) mister, sir, gentleman
80. demander (verb) to ask for
81. alors (adv.) then, so
82. après (adv., prep.) after
83. trouver (verb) to find
84. personne (noun [f.]) person; (pron.) anyone, nobody
85. rendre (verb) to render, return, yield, give up
86. part (noun [f.]) share
87. dernier (adj). last
88. venir (verb) to come
89. pendant (adj.) during; (prep.) for; (noun [m.]) pendant
90. passer (verb) to pass
91. peu (adv.) little
92. lequel (pron.) who, whom, which
93. suite (noun [f.]) result, follow-up, rest
94. bon (adj., adv.) good; (noun [m.]) coupon, voucher
95. comprendre (verb) to understand
96. depuis (prep., adv.) since
97. point (adv.) at all; (noun [m.]) point
98. ainsi (adv.) thus
99. heure (noun [f.]) hour
100. rester (verb) to stay
Best method to learn the list of French words
Having the right tools during your studies can significantly accelerate how fast you learn French. We’ve curated the most effective ones that we think you should try.
Anki makes it easy for you to create online flashcards to remember vocabulary faster. You can create it on your desktop, and take it with you on-the-go on your tablet or smartphone by downloading their app.
Memrise is an online community and memorization tool to help you memorize anything with ease, including French words. In fact, Memrise has dedicated channels that are specifically built for languages like Spanish, French, Italian, German, and more.
We found this Memrise channel, which shares 5,000 most common words in French that you can go check out.
If you don’t want the hassle of learning the list of French words alone, you could always rely on Rype to help you out. Our dedicated French teachers can help keep you accountable, get real-life immersive practice, and give you immediate feedback to retain more knowledge in less time.
Each lesson plan is designed and customized to meet your individual needs, so you’ll never have to worry about other students taking up your precious time.
We hope you enjoyed this post sharing the list of most common French words. If you’re interested in learning French online, on your time, we’d love for you to meet Rype.
With private French lessons online, it’s the most effective way to learn a new language for busy people.
Start your free trial with Rype, and you can book daily lessons at anytime of the day, any day of the week. We’ve built the entire experience to fit the needs of busy individuals like yourself, and you can even try it out, risk-free!
We also recommend you check out our other free resources: