easy-french-words

Want a Vocabulary Boost? 250 Easy French Words to Add to Your Speech

What’s the fastest way to learn French?

Should you invest in an expensive French course?

Splurge on high-end French wine and cheese?

Consult the nearest psychic?

What if I told you that you needed none of those things?!

It’s true—taking your French from zero to a solid beginner stage is as easy as 1-2-3!

Learning vocabulary is one of the cornerstones of learning French.

In tandem with grammar, vocabulary populates your sentences and allows you to express yourself as well as your needs, wants and desires. It allows you to describe your concrete surroundings, as well as talk about the hypothetical—even that imaginary psychic you wanted to consult at the beginning of this post!

What’s the best news about vocabulary?

Well, according to the 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, by learning 20% of the most common words in a language you can understand 80% of all written and oral communications.

While gauging 20% of a language may seem tough considering French dictionaries like Larousse claim to have over 135,000 words, it’s easy to grow a carefully targeted vocabulary in French!

In fact, according to the Universe of Memory, a base vocabulary of 500 words gives you a solid A1 (beginner) language level.

Does 500 words sound like a lot?

Consider this: with the following post, you can learn 250 of the most common French words right now!

That means that after this post, you’ll be halfway to having a solid base in the French language. In other words, learning the most common base words in a language allows you to become a functional beginner rather quickly.

Did I say taking your French from zero to a solid beginner stage is as easy as 1-2-3? I should have said as easy as 2-5-0!
 


 

250 Easy French Words to Boost Your Vocabulary

Wondering what to do with all of this vocabulary once you start learning it?

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FluentU is a fantastic tool to take the following vocabulary words and put them into context.

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into language learning experiences.

With FluentU, you can hear French vocabulary used by native speakers in authentic situations.

Browse videos by difficulty (beginner to native), topic (arts and entertainment, health and lifestyle, etc.) and format (video blog, news, shows, etc.) to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Then, practice what you’ve heard using interactive subtitles, flashcards, quizzes and more. Customize your playlists to focus on learning the French words you want.

Start learning with FluentU directly from your browser, or download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.

Without further ado, check out 250 of the most common French words to skyrocket your French to a solid beginner stage!

The following is vocabulary that’s used in the most common French conversations and situations, excluding common greetings and pleasantries.

Keep in mind the similarities between French and English when learning words from these lists. English has borrowed a lot of words from French and vice versa. As such, memorizing these words should be fairly easy!

Learn a foreign language with videos

Common Household Vocabulary

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Some of the most important words in any language have to do with our immediate surroundings.

That being said, it’s crucial to learn the French words that describe the places where we live.

Check out the following common words that denote specific rooms and spaces in our households.

La maison — the house

La salle — the room

La cuisine — the kitchen

La salle à manger — the dining room

Le bureau — the office

Le salon — the living room

La chambre — the bedroom

La salle de bain — the bathroom (this room may not include a toilet)

Les toilettes — the bathroom (this room includes a toilet, sometimes exclusively)

Le sous-sol  the basement

Le grenier  attic

La porte — the door

La fenêtre  the window

Le couloir  the hall

L’escalier  the stairs

Le mur — the wall

Le sol — the floor

Le plafond — the ceiling

With the above words, you could say je suis dans… (I am in…) and attach any of the vocabulary words to say where you are in the house.

Similarly, with the phrase je vais à… (I am going to…), you can say where you intend to go.

With this construction, however, pay attention to the gender of the word that you add to the sentence. For instance, je vais à… becomes je vais au… (I am going to…) before masculine words and the le (the) gets dropped.

For example:

Je vais au sous-sol.

I am going to the basement

Continuing with our household theme, the following is a list of common words associated with rooms in the house.

Le bureau  the desk

L’ordinateur  the computer

L’étagère — the bookshelf

Le livre — the book

La télévision — the television

Le canapé / le sofa — the couch

La chaise  the chair

La lampe  the lamp

Le rideau — the curtain

Le réfrigérateur — the fridge

Le four — the oven

La cuisinière — the stove

L’évier — the sink

La table — the table

Le lit — the bed

L’oreiller — the pillow

La commode — the dresser

L’horloge — the clock

La baignoire — the bathtub

La douche — the shower

La toilette — the toilet

La brosse à dents  the toothbrush

Le dentifrice — the toothpaste

Le tapis — the rug

Le miroir — the mirror

La téléphone — the telephone

With the above object words, you could ask the question qu’est-ce que c’est ? (what is this?).

To answer the question, simply start a phrase with c’est… (it is) and name the object, including its article (lelor l’).

Common Food & Drinks

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Hungry or thirsty? Check out the most common French words for food and drinks.

Le restaurant — the restaurant

Le café — the cafe / coffee

Le thé — the tea

Le jus — the juice

Le lait — the milk

Le vin — the wine

La bière — the beer

L’eau — water

La fruit — the fruit

La pomme — the apple

La banane  the banana

L’orange  the orange

La fraise — the strawberry

Le raisin  the grape

Les légumes  the vegetables

La salade — the salad

La carotte — the carrot

La pomme-de-terre — the potato

Le tomate — the tomato

La laitue — lettuce

Le champignon — mushroom

La viande  meat

Le poisson — fish

Le poulet  chicken

Le bœuf — beef

Le petit-déjeuner  breakfast

Le déjeuner  lunch

Le dîner  dinner

Le repas  meal

Le goûter  snack

L’assiette  plate

Le couteau  knife

La fourchette fork

La cuillère  spoon

La tasse — cup

When making sentences with food words, use the phrase je mange de… (I am eating…) and attach any of the above words to say what you’re eating.

Next, say je bois de… (I am drinking…) and attach any of the above words to say what you’re drinking.

Make sure to pay attention to the gender and number of what comes next.

For example:

Je mange de la fruit. 

I eat fruit.

Je bois du thé.

I drink tea.

At a restaurant, you could also say s’il vous plaît (please) after any of these words to say what you would like to eat or drink.

Want to be extra fancy with the serveur (the server)? Say, je voudrais… (I would like…) to say what you want to order.

Vocabulary for School or Work

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Headed to a French-speaking region for employment or study? Well, then the following words are essential!

L’école — the school

Le crayon — the pencil

Le stylo — the pen

Le cahier — the notebook

La salle de classe — the classroom

La calculatrice — the calculator

La matière scolaire — the school subject

L’histoire — history

La géographie — geography

La musique — music

Les sciences  the sciences

Les mathématiques  mathematics

Le sport — sports

Le français  French

L’anglais  English

Les notes — grades (marks)

Le professeur / la professeure — the teacher

L’étudiant(e) / l’élève — the student

Are you in need of a particular school supply?

Tell the person beside you j’ai besoin de… (I need…) and name the object.

Be careful though! If the word is masculine (with the le article), you will say j’ai besoin du… (I need…).

If you want to say that you’re studying a particular subject area, simply say j’étudie… (I am studying…) and name the subject from the list above.

Now let’s talk about career words! The following are common words associated with jobs and work.

La compagnie — the company

L’emploi — the job

Le travail — the work

Le dentiste — the dentist

L’écrivain — the writer

Le médicin — the doctor (medical)

Le serveur / la serveuse — the waiter / waitress

L’avocat — the lawyer

Le caissier / la caissière — the cashier

L’ingénieur(e) — the engineer

Le mécanicien / la mécanicienne  the mechanic

Le plombier / la plombière  the plumber

Le pompier / la pompière — the firefighter

Le policier / la policière — the police officer

L’architecte  the architect

Le travailleur / la travailleuse  the worker

Le boulanger / la boulangère — the baker

Le boucher / la bouchère — the butcher

Le coiffeur / la coiffeuse — the hairdresser

To name the job that you do, you could say je suis… (I am…) and name the job without the corresponding article.

For example:

Je suis plombier.

I am a plumber.

Notice that the above example doesn’t include an article, such as le or un.

Furthermore, you could say je travaille à… (I work at…) and name the company where you work.

Keep in mind that some jobs differ depending on the gender of the worker. From the list above, the variation that begins with le (the) is masculine and is used for male workers of a job, and the variation with la is the feminine and is used with female workers of the job.

Vocabulary for Places

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Splitting your time between home, school and work is no fun! You want to get out and explore, don’t you?

Check out the following common words for standard places or locations.

La ville — the city

La campagne — the countryside

La ferme — the farm

Le parc — the park

La rivière / le fleuve — the river

L’arbre  the tree

La fleur  the flower

Le bâtiment  the building

La tour  the tower

Le bureau de poste — the post office

La bibliothèque — the library

La librairie — the bookstore

La boulangerie — the bakery

La pharmacie — the pharmacy

L’hôpital  the hospital

Le marché / le supermarché  the market / supermarket

Le cinéma — the movie theatre

La banque  the bank

L’église  the church

Le musée — the museum

La gare — the train station

Le trottoir — the sidewalk

La rue  the street

You could say je vais à… (I’m going to…) and attach any of the vocabulary words to say where you’re going.

Like before, remember to pay attention to the gender of the word with this phrase. For instance, je vais à… becomes je vais au… (I am going to…) before masculine words and the le (the) gets dropped.

For example:

Je vais au supermarché.

I am going to the supermarket.

Are you lost? Simply begin your question with où est…? (where is?) and add in the place you’re looking for to get directions.

For example:

Où est le bureau de poste ? 

Where is the post office?

Où est la boulangerie ? 

Where is the bakery?

The latter example is especially helpful if you’re craving some delectable French bread!

Describing Yourself & Other Things

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Even though the French aren’t particularly fond of small talk, it’s still useful to ask someone how they’re doing.

To form this question in French, say comment ça va ? (how are you?), or the hyper-formal comment allez-vous ? (how are you?).

To answer the question, you have an array of options. You could say ça va bien (things are going well) or ça va mal (things are not going well).

To say that things are just okay, you could simply say ça va (it’s okay) or comme-ci, comme-ça. Keep in mind, however, that comme-ci, comme-ça is a textbook phrase that isn’t actually used much in French-speaking regions these days.

Looking for more meaningful descriptions? The following are common words that can be used to describe yourself, others or inanimate things.

Grand(e) — big

Petit(e) — small

Chaud(e) — hot

Froid(e) — cold

Intelligent(e) — smart

Fâché(e)  angry

Triste  sad

Heureux / heureuse  happy

Drôle  funny

Jeune — young

Vieux / vieille — old

Nerveux / nerveuse — nervous

Beau / belle — beautiful

Facile — easy

Difficile  hard

Effrayé(e)  scared

Ennuyé(e) — bored

Ennuyeux / ennuyeuse  boring

Étrange  strange

Fort(e) — strong

Possible — possible

Impossible — impossible

Sportif / sportive  athletic

Keep in mind that some adjectives change genders depending on the gender of the noun it describes.

In this list, the masculine forms are given first, with the feminine forms being either those with an added -e or the second form of the adjective.

For example, if you wanted to say “the house is big” in French, you’d have to use the feminine form of the adjective, as follows:

La maison est grande. 

The house is big.

Interested in more adjectives? Check out how to say common colors in French as well!

Animals & Nature Vocabulary

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There’s no break from studying I love more than taking a nice walk in nature. The following are common French words that can be used to describe animals or nature.

Le chien — dog

Le chat — cat

Le lapin — rabbit

Le lion — lion

Le cheval — horse

La vache  cow

Le requin  shark

Le singe  monkey

Le cochon — pig

L’oiseau — bird

La souris — mouse

La tortue — turtle

Un canard — duck

Un crapaud — toad

Une grenouille  frog

Le soleil  the sun

La pluie — the rain

Le vent  the wind

La neige  the snow

Le nuage — the cloud

L’éclair — the lightning

La tonnerre — the thunder

L’orage  the storm

La montagne — the mountain

La plage — the beach

La forêt — the forest

La terre — soil / the earth

La colline — the hill

Le lac — the lake

L’océan — the ocean

Interested in knowing what you should wear for the weather outside? Ask quel temps fait-il ? (what’s the weather?).

Remember, however, that when talking about the temperature, you say il fait chaud (it is hot) and il fait froid (it is cold), using the verb faire (to do, to make) instead of the verb être (to be).

If you’re feeling daring, turn on la météo (the weather forecast) for an in-depth look!

Common Verbs

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So far we’ve been focusing on common words to describe our surroundings and our experiences, but we’ve left out a crucial piece: verbs.

Verbs are words that describe actions, and, in fact, most French sentences (and sentences in other languages) need verbs to make sense.

The absolute most common French verbs are être (to be), avoir (to have) and aller (to go), and these verbs are irregular, meaning they don’t follow the same rules of usage (or conjugation) that so-called regular verbs do.

This means that these verbs need to be memorized, but once committed to memory, you’ll find that your sentences completely fall into place. In the meantime, try using a handy French verb conjugation tool, like the one from Reverso.

Lucky for you, French learner, most other verbs are regular. This means that you only have to learn the endings of their group, which apply to all regular verbs in that group.

In French, there are three groups of so-called regular verbs, denoted by their infinitive (unconjugated) endings: -er verbs, -ir verbs and -re verbs.

The most common -er verbs are as follows:

Parler — to speak

Aimer — to like

Chanter — to sing

Danser  to dance

Fermer — to close

Demander — to ask

Étudier — to study

Regarder — to watch

Visiter — to visit (a place)

Habiter — to live

Jouer — to play

Laver — to wash

Penser — to think

Utiliser — to use

Trouver — to find

Manger  to eat

Following the conjugation rules for -er verbs, you could say things such as je parle français (I speak French) and il visite la banque (he visits the bank).

Common -ir verbs include the following:

Finir — to finish

Bâtir — to build

Choisir — to choose

Remplir  to fill

Grandir — to grow

Grossir — to gain weight

Obéir — to obey

Punir — to punish

Réfléchir — to reflect

Réussir — to succeed / pass (a test)

With the conjugation rules for regular -ir verbs, you could say something like tu bâtis une maison (you build a house) and nous réussissons le test (we pass the test).

Check out the most common -re verbs:

Vendre — to sell

Attendre — to wait

Détendre — to relax

Entendre  to hear

Fondre — to melt

Descendre — to go down / descend

Pendre — to hang

Perdre — to lose

Prétendre — to claim

Répondre — to respond

Use the conjugation rules of regular -re verbs to say things like ils vendent des pommes (they sell apples) and elle entend l’oiseau (she hears the bird).

 

And just like that, you have 250 words to bring your French to the next level. Practice these words often and watch your French comprehension and production vastly improve!
 

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