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French & English: Similarities, Differences Between French and English

Learn about similarities and differences between French and English in this lessons that compare and contrast the two languages.

Differences between French and English
French and English are related languages in a sense, so there are some similarities. Perhaps more importantly, however, there are a number of differences, both major and minor, between French and English. Here are some brief explanations with links to further information.

French in English
The English language has been shaped by a number of other languages over the centuries, and most Anglophones know that Latin and German were two of the most important. What many don't realize is how much the French language has influenced English.

French + English = franglais, but the marriage is not always a happy one.

Faux amis ~ False Cognates
One of the great things about learning French or English is that many words have the same roots in the two languages. However, there are also a great many faux amis, or false cognates, which look similar in French and English but are in fact very different.

Vrais amis ~ True Cognates
The 1,700 words on these pages are spelled (although not pronounced) identically in French and English and are true or semi-true cognates. Take a look at this list to discover just how much vocabulary is shared between French and English.

"French" Expressions
There are dozens of expressions in English which contain the word French... but are these things actually French? Take a look at this list with the French equivalents and their literal translations - you might be surprised.

French and English Capitalization
French and English capitalization are quite different, as it is much less common in French. Many words that must be capitalized in English cannot be in French, so read through this lesson to make sure that you're not over-capitalizing your French.

English Singulars and French Plurals
Nouns are not always singular in both French and English. Here is a list of words that are singular or uncountable in English but plural in French.

French and English Spelling
This table of common spelling equivalents between French and English will help your vocabulary to grow by leaps and bounds by teaching you to recognize and spell French cognates.

French Vocabulary in English
The English language has borrowed many words and expressions from French. Some has been so completely absorbed by English that speakers might not realize its origins. Other words and expressions have retained their "Frenchness" - a certain je ne sais quoi which speakers tend to be much more aware of.

To Make
To make is a very general, very useful verb in English. Its French translations vary wildly, so take a look at this lesson to learn how to translate various meanings of "make" into French.

Modal Verbs in French
Modal verbs, also called modal auxiliaries or simply modals, are unconjugated English verbs which express the mood of a verb, such as ability, possibility, condition, and necessity. However, French does not have modal verbs, which can make it difficult to translate them. There are ten common English modal verbs: can, must, should....

French English Dictionaries
French dictionaries are an essential tool for every level of French speaker. These on- and off-line bilingual and multilingual French dictionaries are useful for translators, teachers, and students alike.

À chacun son goût
Is it "à chacun son goût" or "chacun a son goût"? What does this French expression mean?

Au contraire
What does the French expression au contraire mean and how is it used?

Au fait
The French expression "au fait" has numerous meanings, only one of which is used in English.

Avoir l'esprit de l'escalier
If you've ever come up with a comeback too late, you should learn the French expression avoir l'esprit de l'escalier.

Here's a preppy and posh look at the French acronym BCBG.

Bon appétit
Do the French really say "bon appétit"? What does it mean?

Bon voyage
You can't have a good trip until you learn about the French expression bon voyage.

Cas de force majeure
Even an act of God shouldn't stop you from learning about the French expression cas de force majeure.

C'est la vie
I really hope you'll click to learn about the French expression c'est la vie, but if you don't, I guess that's life.

Cherchez la femme
Look for the meaning behind the idiomatic French expression cherchez la femme.

Comme il faut
Read this lesson to be sure you're using the French expression comme il faut.

Un coup d'État
Overthrow incomprehension by learning about the French expression un coup d'État.

Coup de foudre
What does the idiomatic French expression "coup de foudre" mean and how is it used?

Déjà vu
If you've already learned about this French expression, you might feel a strange sense of déjà vu.

De trop
You might find it's sometimes a bit too much to use this expression in English, but in French it's definitely not de trop.

Honi soit qui mal y pense
What does the French expression honi soit qui mal y pense mean and how is it used?

Je ne sais quoi
The French expression je ne sais quoi has a certain something - learn all about it.

Oh là là
Is the French expression "oh là là" used the same way in French and English?

Plus ça change
How is the expression "plus ça change" used in French and English?

Please repond to this request: click to learn about the possibly French expression RSVP.

Tout de suite
You can learn about the French expression tout de suite right away, just click.

If you can't learn about the French expression vis-à-vis face to face, this lesson is the next best thing.

Vive la France !
What does the French expression Vive la France! mean and how is it used?

What does the French expression "voilà" mean? Are there other ways to spell it?

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir
What does the French expression voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir mean and how is it used?

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