Spoken by: ~ 128 million
Spoken in: France (+ dependent territories), Belgium, Canada, the Switzerland, Andorra, Luxembourgh, French Guiana, Congo, Camerun, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Sénegal, Mali, Haiti, Gabon, Monaco, Togo, Bénin, Burundi, Rwanda, Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie, Liban, Mauritanie
Language family: Romance

French is an official language in 44 countries. It is spoken by 55 million people in France, 3 million in Belgium, 1.5 million in Switzerland, 6.5 million in Canada, and 5 million in former French and Belgian colonies. It is also an official language of the U.N

Phonology Edit

French phonology is very regular, even though it doesn't seem so at the first sight. You'll need to get used to different rules and one letter resulting in two or three sounds, depending on its surroundings, but once you get them, you are fine. These rules apply nearly everywhere, unlike in English.

Grammar Edit

Two genders: masculine and feminine

Three kinds of articles: definite, indefinite, partitive

Nouns are not declined, verbs are conjugated. Some verbs are reflexive.

Most verbs are conjugated regularly, depending on their stem and their infinitive ending. However, there are irregular verbs as well.

Tenses: past, present and future are combined with moods: indicative, imperative, subjunctive(, conditional, participle or gerundive), voice: active and passive and aspect: perfect or imperfect.

Therefore the final form of a verb is usually created by taking the root and adding the proper ending and/or auxiliary verb with regard to the person of the verb.

Word order is more free than in English but still does follow rules. Every French sentence does include a subject, similarly to English.

Orthography Edit

The French orthography is generally considered hard, but as with most things, it is merely a question of learning the rules that apply to it and the logic appears.

Common difficulties Edit

The Foreign Service Institute has classified French as a "World" language. It is estimated that learning French to a Professional Working Proficiency in the language (a score of Speaking-3/Reading-3 on the Interagency Language Roundtable scale) will take an average of 30 weeks (750 class hours).[1]

Articles are by many considered a difficult part of French grammar. French uses indefinite articles (un, une, des), definite articles (le, la, l', les) and partitive articles (du, de la, de l', des) and the rules for the usage of these should be studied carefully.

French has many homophones, vers, ver, verre, vert and vair are all pronounced the same.

French conjugations in themselves are not very hard for someone who is already used to languages with numerous tenses, but the fact that many endings of verbs are pronounced the same complicates things. "Il était" (he was) and "ils étaient" (they were) are, for example, identical. Some claim to find a small difference between "j'aurai" (I will have) and "j'aurais" (I would have), but others do not, and these things may make it difficult to keep tenses apart and actually know which one you are using when speaking or hearing someone speak. A thorough study of the tenses and their spelling is therefore recommended. Young French natives themselves are experts at making mistakes when writing French verbs. A very common such error is "j'ai manger" (I have eat(infinitive)) instead of "j'ai mangé" (I have eaten).

Understanding spoken French is also something many find hard. In French one does not cut off one's words where the words end "physically", but combine them in order to avoid finishing a word with a consonant (enchaînement). "Mon oncle" will be pronounced "mo noncle". Silent letters at the end of words will also in some cases become sounded as they combine with the following word starting with a vowel (liaison), and for this there are certain rules, but part of it also depends on how "well" you speak and is a matter of style. An example of an obligatory liaision would be "les enfants" where the s, which is otherwise silent, will be pronounced [z]. Words in general in a phrase will be regrouped in undefineable rhythmic groups where the last syllable of the last word of each group carries the stress, while the rest of the words remain unstressed.

Resources Edit

Free/Internet resourcesEdit

Commercial coursesEdit

  • Assimil New French with Ease - Excellent beginner course that contains a vocabulary of around 2000-3000 words and teaches grammar by "assimilation".
  • French in action (~3000 words).
  • Teach Yourself
  • Colloquial
  • monolingual courses like Alter Ego, Édito, Connexions and many others
  • [Monks]  - Learn french with native tutor. 
  • Pimsleur offers a course in French 
  • Rosetta Stone offers a course in French 

Supplementary learner aimed materialEdit

By natives for nativesEdit

References Edit

  1. U.S. Department of State; FSI's Experience with Language Learning;
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