How To Master French Vocabulary: 100+ Lists For Beginners

Learning French vocabulary is your gateway to speaking French. The most common words and include are Bonjour (hello), Comment allez-vous? (how are you?), merci beaucoup (thank you very much), de rien (you’re welcome) and au revoir (goodbye). The page offers several learning tips, 50+ basic words as well as vocabulary lists by topic.

French Vocabulary: Complete Guide with Lists

Here’s a list of most common French vocabulary words:

  • Oui Yes
  • Non No
  • Merci Thank you
  • De Rien You’re welcome
  • Bonjour ! Hello!
  • Au revoir ! Goodbye!
  • Salut ! Hi!
  • Comment allez-vous ? How are you (formal)
  • Comment ça va ? How’s it going?
  • Et toi/vous? And yourself?
  • Enchanté! Nice to meet you!
  • Ravi de vous connaître! Nice to meet you!
  • Je m’appelle My name is
  • Comment vous appelez-vous ? What is your name?
  • Pardon! Sorry!
  • Excusez-moi! Excuse me!

This page offers a list of most common French words.

Tips for mastering French vocabulary

1) Consider some good online courses

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for taking on French vocabulary is to try an online course. These courses do a great job teaching the reading and sound systems and present the vocabulary in a very logical way.

Over the years I’ve come to know Camille from Frenchtoday.com and highly recommend her course, A Moi Paris course for beginners.

2) Master pronunciation and reading first

One of my biggest tips for all new students for learning French vocabulary is actually master reading and pronunciation first. The reason is that if you’re on shaky ground reading and pronouncing words you will never make yourself understood.

In addition, once you get the reading rules down, you will be able to make better connections between different words and have the ability to take on new words at a faster pace.

To master pronunciation you may consider looking into French Today’s Secrets Of French Pronunciation course.

The French accents are a big mystery for many beginner students. Many people don’t know how to read the accents and completely ignore them.

Knowing how to read the accents correctly is very important. Our French accents page is a wonderful resource for learning to read the accents.

3) Mastering Gender: A lifelong challenge

One of the biggest challenges for learning French vocabulary is remembering that each noun has an assigned masculine or feminine gender.

Unlike Spanish where feminine nouns simply take an -a, you cannot assume that all feminine nouns in French take an -e.

Mastering gender in French is lifelong process so don’t give up if you have a hard time remembering which words are masculine and which are feminine.

This page on our site covering French nouns gender rules gives common spelling endings for masculine and feminine words with lots of example words and exceptions.

4) Look for similarities between French and English

A very high percentage of the French and English languages overlap. Almost all words related to areas of high educational arears such as science, medicine, politics and philosophy overlap.

When learn French words take the time to ask yourself if there’s an English word that is related . This can help you memorize faster.

For example, un pantelon in French means pants. The English words is embedded in the French word!

Here’s a fun one: The French word “éviter” means to avoid? How do you remember this? In English if something is “inevitable” it’s “unavoidable”.

5) Other tips for learning French Vocabulary

There are many other ways to learn French vocabulary that are much less traditional but highly effected.

One way is to simply watch French movies and series on Netflix. Pause the video when you come to a word that you want to remember, look it up and add it to your list.

Lingopie is a tool similar to Netflix that steams languages with both French and English subtitles simultaneously.

The app has a tool for creating vocab list. I feel that Lingopie is a great took for building vocab at a very rapid rate.

Image with words: "J'aime La France", meaning "I love France".

French vocabulary words for survival in France

Before traveling to France it would be a great idea to get a grasp of basic survival words. Here are a few words and phrases you absolutely must learn.

Asking directions

While on your trip you will inevitably find yourself in situations where you have to ask directions. Try your hardest to ask in French! Here’s a longer list covering vocabulary for asking directions.

  • Où est ? Where is ?
  • Où est la gare ? Where is the train station?
  • Où sont ? Where are ?
  • Où se trouve ? Where is ?
  • Où sont les toilettes ? Where’s the restroom.

Basics for taking an Uber or taxi

Knowing a few works or phrases can come in very handy when taking an Uber or taxi. Here’s a longer list covering taxi vocabulary.

  • Je vais à . I’m going to .
  • Voici l’adresse. Here’s the address.
  • Allez tout droit. Go straight ahead.
  • Tournez ici. Turn here.
  • C’est à droite/gauche. It’s to the right/left.
  • Je descends ici. I’ll get off here.

A few words for expressing language difficulties

It’s very likely that you’ll find yourself in situations where you have a hard time making yourself understood and understanding what’s being said to you. Here are a few phrases you can use in these conversations.

  • Je suis desolé! I’m sorry!
  • Je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.
  • Répétez s’il vous plaît. Please repeat.
  • Parlez lentement, s’il vous plaît. Speak slowly please.
  • Je ne parle pas français. I don’t speak French.
  • Comment dit-on _ en français? How do you say _ in French?
  • Parlez-vous anglais ? Do you speak English?

Vocabulary for shopping

A wonderful way to practice speaking French is to go into stores and chat with sales people. On this page you can find a much longer list of vocabulary and phrases for shopping.

  • Je cherche_. I’m looking for_.
  • Combien coûte ? How much does cost?
  • C’est combien ? How much is it?
  • C’est trop grand. It’s too big.
  • C’est pas petit. It’s too small.
  • Avez-vous ma taille ? Do you have my size?
  • Acceptez-vous une carte de credit? Do you accept a credit card?

Eating in restaurant

Knowing some restaurant words and phrases will come in very handy when you When you go to a restaurant in France. On this page you can find a longer list of restaurant vocabulary.

  • Je voudrais . I would like?
  • Je prends . I’ll take .
  • Avez-vous ? Do you have?
  • Je suis allergique à _. I’m allergic to _.
  • L’addition s’il vous plaît. The bill, please.

Talking about family

At a certain point during your trip you’ll most likely find yourself talking about your family. This page offers a much more extensive list of family vocabulary.

  • La famille family
  • Je suis marié(e). I am married.
  • Je suis célibataire. I am single.
  • Êtes-vous marié? Are you married?
  • Êtes-vous célibataire? Are you single?
  • J’ai un(e) enfant/J’ai des enfants. I have a/several kids.
  • Mon mari My husband
  • Mon épouse My wife
  • J’ai un frère. I have a brother.
  • J’ai une soeur. I have a sister.

French slang

While it’s not totally necessary to know French slang for a trip to France, it’s nice to know a few works. The following is a very short list of French slang or, “argot”. You can find a must more comprehensive list on our French slang page.

  • Un mec guy
  • Une meuf a woman
  • Bof! So-so
  • J’sais pas I don’t know
  • Le fric money
  • Kiffer to like
  • Un bordel mess
  • Une balle euro
  • Une clope cigarette

A few useful phrases

There are some phrases you absolutely must know. I’ve listed out the bare essentials here with explanations. This page offers an extensive list of French expressions.

Merci beaucoup

It is essential that you know how to say and use merci beaucoup before your trip. Merci beaucoup translates to thank you very much.

Beaucoup is pronounced “bo-koo”. Be sure to keep your mouth loose and relaxed while pronouncing the ‘koo’ sound.

S’il vous plaît vs. s’il te plaît

It’s very important to know how to say please in French. Both s’il vous plaît and s’il te plaît both mean please but there’s a key difference to understand.

S’il vous plaît is formal and you must use it with strangers or people older than yourself. Use s’il te plaît for only with people you know or those in your peer group.

Je ne sais pas

This is a must-know phrase that means “I don’t know”. It will come in very handy when somebody asks you a question and you don’t know the answer.

Don’t confused this with “je ne connais pas”. This also means I know know but it’s used when referring to people or places that you might know.

Je vous en prie and je t’en prie

The phrase je vous en prie is also exremely useful and common in France. It’s impossible to translate directly into English.

While it literally means, I beg of thee, you can use it to mean your’re welcome. Also, if a wait person was showing you to your seat he or she might say, je vous en prie as you’re taking your seat.

On translation of je vous en prie is you’re welcome. You can also say de rien to mean you’re welcome.

J’aime, je n’aime pas

J’aime and je n’aime pas trnalsate to both I like and I don’t like. These phrases will come in very handy when you’re trying to express your tastes to your hosts.

You can use these when talking about just about anything. For example, J’aime le steak. Je n’aime pas la salade. I like the steak. I don’t like the salad.

French wine and baguette

French vocabulary word lists by topic

The following table offers over 100 French vocabulary word lists:

A
AirplaneAnimalsAcronyms And Abbreviations
AirportAnatomyApproximate Numbers
ArchitectureArtAstronomy
B
BabyBankingBar
BaseballBasketballBathroom
BeautyBedroomBiology
BreakfastBusinessBooks & Print Media
But
C
ChristmasConstructionCruise
CampingChemistryClassroom Commands
Climate ChangeClothingColors
ComputerCookingCountries
Covid 19CyclingCard & Board Games
CheersCoffeeCommon Nouns
D
DIYDrinksDaily Routine
Days of the WeekDining RoomDog Breeds
DoctorDirectionsDates
E
EconomicsEducationEssential Words
EmergencyEnvironmentEquestrian
F
FlowersFarmFast Food
FishingFitnessFractions
FamilyFeelingsFive Senses
FlavorsFoodFurniture
French Words Used in English
G
GardeningGardeningGolf
Greetings
H
HobbiesHaircutHalloween
Hardware StoreHolidaysHealth & Illnesses
Homes & SpicesHomeHospital
How MuchHappy BirthdayHungry
Hanukkah
I
Injury, First AidInsectsI Love You
J
JewelryJobs
K
Kitchen
L
LandscapesLawLazy
Living Room
M
makeupMonthsMusic
Musical-InstrumentsMarriageMartial Arts
MathMealsMotorcycle
Music Theory
N
LanguagesNationalitiesNature
Numbers 1-100
O
Ordinal NumbersOrdering Food / RestaurantOkay
OfficeOnline Lessons Vocab
P
Parts of the BodyParts of the CarParts of the Day
Physical DescriptionsPoliticsPost Office
Personal InformationPersonalitiesPersonalities
PharmacyPhotographyPhysics
Punctuation Marks
Q

Quantity
R
ReallyReligionRocks, Minterals
Rooms
S
SchoolShoppingSoccer
SportsSailingSchool Subjects
ScienceSewingShapes
Shops and BusinessesSightseeingSkiing
SupermarketSwimmingSeasons
T
TelephoneThanksgivingTime Words
Telling TimeTennisTheater
ToolsTrees
V
Valentine's Day
W
WeatherWeights & MeasuresWhere
Wine
Z
Zodiak (Astrology) Signs

Become an expert in French vocabulary!
Our friend, Camille, at Frenchtoday.com has also done a wonderful job covering French vocabulary. One of the major benefits is that her French vocabulary lists provide audio samples as well as cultural tips. We’d also like to suggest the book Practice Makes Perfect, Complete French All-in-One, which as a very comprehensive vocabulary section.

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