100+ Most Common French Words

What are the most common French words?

The most commonly used words in French are: Oui (yes), non (no), merci (thank you), je (I), tu/vous (you), le/la/les (the), un, une des (a, an and some), le/la/les (it, them), et (and) and mais (but).

Learning the most common words is the first step to learning to speak fluently. Rather than just providing a list of top-100 words without any structure, we’ve created a list based on language sub-areas such as common adjectives, prepositions and verbs. We’ve also broken our list down into noun groups such family, clothing and much more.

Top 10 French words in a nutshell

These are the top ten frequently most used words in the French language:

  1. Oui yes
  2. Non no
  3. Merci thank you
  4. Je I
  5. Tu/vous you
  6. le, la, les the
  7. Un, une, des a, an, some
  8. le, la, les it, them
  9. Et and
  10. Mais but

Example sentences with the most common words:

  • Oui, je parle français. Yes, I speak French.
  • Non, je ne parle pas français. No, I don’t speak French.
  • Merci beaucoup. Thank you very much.
  • Je mange le pain. I eat the bread.
  • Tu manges la salade. You seat the salad.
  • Vous mangez la pizza. You eat the pizza.
  • Le garçon chante. The boy sings.
  • La fille nage. The girl swims.
  • Les enfants chantent. The children sing.
  • Un garçon écrit. A boy writes.
  • Une fille dort. A girl sleeps.
  • Des enfant étudient. Some kids study.
  • Je le/la mange. I eat it.
  • Je les mange. I eat them.
  • Marc et Sylvie. Marc and Sylvie.
  • Il aime Sylvie mais il est trop timide. He likes Sylvie but he’s too shy.

How to say “not in French

In French, to say “not”, wrap ne…pas around a verb. For example, “Je ne parle pas français” (I don’t speak French).

This is called negation. This page covers French negation in detail.

  • Ne…pas not

Articles: words for “the” and “a, an”

The articles in French (words for the and a/an) must agree in gender and number with the noun they describe.

The words for the are called the definite article and the words for a/some are called the indefinite article. This page explains these French articles in detail.

  • Le the (masculine)
  • La the (feminine)
  • Les the (plural)
  • L’ the (comes before noun starting with a vowel)
  • Un a or an (masculine)
  • Une a or an (feminine)
  • Des some (plural)

Personal pronouns

One of the first steps in learning French is to learn the personal pronouns. These refer to words for people (I, you, he, she, etc.).

This page covers French personal pronouns in detail.

  • Je I
  • Tu you
  • Il he
  • Elle she
  • On one
  • Nous we
  • Vous you (formal)
  • Ils they (all men or mixed company)
  • Elles they (female only)

Stressed pronouns

A second kind of pronoun that’s use for people is is called a “stressed pronoun”. These are words like me, him and her in English.

This page covers French stressed pronouns.

  • Moi me
  • Toi you
  • Lui him
  • Elle her
  • Nous us
  • Vous you
  • Eux them
  • Elles them (female only)

Most common verbs

Verbs are action words. For example, “I go” or “I eat”. In the list below we included 10 commonly used verbs in the first-person singular (I) form.

This lesson covers the most common French verbs in detail.

  • Je suis I am
  • J’ai I have
  • Je fais I make, I do
  • Je vais I go
  • Je parle I speak
  • Je mange I eat
  • Je sais I know
  • Je veux I want
  • Je dois I must
  • Je peux I can

Words for politeness and greetings

It’s essential to learn words for politeness and greetings. Bonjour means hello and au revoir means good-bye.

  • Bonjour Hello, good morning
  • Au revoir goodbye
  • Merci thank you
  • De rien you’re welcome
  • Salut hi and bye
  • Bonsoir good evening
  • Bonne nuit good night
  • S’il vous plaît please (formal)
  • S’il te plaît please (informal)

French numbers

Learning to count to ten is essential for any beginner. Learning these most basic numbers will help you to ask how much things cost, tell time and say the date.

This lesson covers the French numbers 1-100 in detail.

  • Un one
  • Deux two
  • Trois three
  • Quatre four
  • Cinq five
  • Six six
  • Sept seven
  • Huit eight
  • Neuf nine
  • Dix ten

Connecting words

Connecting words or conjunctions are words that are used to join two parts of sentence together.

  • Et and
  • Ou or
  • Si if
  • Mais but
  • Quand when
  • Que that
  • Qui who, that
  • Comme like, as
  • Parceque because

French prepositions

A preposition is a word that introduces another part of a sentences. For example, “in the bathroom”, “at the movies” or “with mom”.

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The two most commonly used French prepositions are à (to/at) and de (from/of). This page covers the French preposition à in detail and this page covers the French preposition de.

  • À to, at
  • De from, of
  • Avec with
  • Pour four
  • Par by
  • Sans without
  • Contre against
  • Dans in, inside of
  • En in
  • Sur on, on top of
  • Chez at the home, place of
  • Avant before
  • Après after

French adverbs

An adverb is a word that’s used to describe how you do something. For example, “I run quickly” or “You speak slowly“.

  • Bien well
  • Mauvais poorly
  • Vite quickly
  • Rapidement quickly
  • Lentement slowly
  • Heureusement fortunately
  • Seulement only
  • Rarement rarely, seldom
  • Souvent often
  • Beaucoup a lot
  • Un peu a little, a bit
  • Trop too, too much

Family members

Learning the words for family members is essential for getting to know people.

This lesson covers French family vocabulary in detail.

  • le père father
  • la mère mother
  • le frère brother
  • la soeur sister
  • le fils son
  • la fille daughter
  • le bébé baby
  • l’enfant child
  • le grand-père grandfather
  • la grand-mère grandmother
  • le cousin, la cousine cousin
  • l’oncle uncle
  • la tante aunt

French adjectives

Adjectives are describing words. For example, “a big house” or “an intelligent girl”.

The French rules for adjectives are very complex as the adjective must agree in number and gender with the noun (the thing) it’s describing (talking about).

The -e in parenthesis below indicates the feminine form of the adjective.

This page covers French adjectives and rules in detail.

  • grand(e) big
  • petit(e) little
  • bon (bonne) good
  • mauvais(e) bad
  • beau (belle) beautiful
  • joli(e) pretty
  • jeune young
  • vieux (vielle) old
  • heureux (heureuse) happy
  • triste sad

French colors

Learning the colors is very important for describing the things we see. Colors are also adjectives as they are description words.

This page covers French colors in detail.

  • Rouge red
  • Orange orange
  • Jaune yellow
  • Blanc white
  • Noir black
  • Bleu blue
  • Vert green

Question words

Question words are words used for seeking information when asking a question. For example: Who, what, where, when and why.

  • Quel (Quelle) which
  • Qui who
  • Quoi what
  • where
  • Quand when
  • Why pourquoi

Words about time

Words about time include days of the week, months and times of day.

The following is just a sample of these words. These pages cover these words in detail: Telling time and months and days of the week,

  • Aujourd’hui today
  • Hier yesterday
  • L’heure hour
  • Le temps time
  • Quelle heure what time
  • Midi noon
  • Minuit midnight
  • Lundi Monday
  • Mardi Tuesday
  • Mercredi Wednesday
  • Jeudi Thursday
  • Vendredi Friday
  • Dimanche Sunday

Food and drinks vocabulary

It’s nice to learn a few food words. This page offers a very complete list of French food vocabulary.

  • le pain bread
  • la viande meat
  • le lait milk
  • le fromage cheese
  • le poulet chicken
  • la salade salade
  • la pomme apple
  • la pomme de terre potatoe
  • le riz rice
  • le gâteau cake
  • l’eau water
  • le café coffee

Names of places

It’s important to know how to say the names of places. Here’s a list of frequently used words.

  • le pays country
  • l’état state
  • la ville city
  • le village town
  • l’école school
  • l’église church
  • la maison house
  • le bureau office
  • le supermarché supermarket
  • la poste post office
  • la bibliothèque library

Clothing words

Here’s a brief list of some clothing words. This page covers clothing vocabulary in detail.

  • la chemise shirt
  • le pantelon pants
  • la jupe skirt
  • la robe dress
  • le chemisier blouse
  • le pull sweater
  • les chaussures shoes
  • les chaussettes socks

Conclusion

We hope we have helped to provide a comprehensive overview of the most common French words. We have summarized our top-10 list in the following table.

FrenchEnglishPronunciation and comments
OuiYesPronounced "wee". "Mais oui!" Means of course!
NonNoPronounced "nɔ̃" or nasal "on". Non, je n'aime pas le fromage. No, I don't like cheese.
MerciThank youPronounced "mer-see". Merci beaucoup means "Thank you very much".
JeIPronounced "ʒə" or "juh". Je parle français! I speak French!
Tu/vousYou (informal), You (plural and formal)Tu = ty, vous = vu or vou. This page covers pronunciation of tu.
le, la, lesThePronounced "luh", "lah" and "lay". When you want to say "the" all nouns require one of these words.
Un, une, desA, an, somePronounced "uhn", "yn" and "day". Nouns require these articles as well.
le, la, lesIt, themPronounced "luh", "la" and "les". These are covered in this object pronoun lesson.
EtAndPronounced "ay" and never "et". Et never has a liason in French.
MaisButPronounced "may". Liason rule can apply to mais.

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If you've found this post useful you might want to considering looking at our post covering the best apps for learning French. We've looked a total 33 apps and have written comprehensive reviews of Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur and FrenchPod101.

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