French (le français [lə fʁɑ̃sɛ] ( listen) or la langue
française [la lɑ̃ɡ fʁɑ̃sɛz]) is a
Romance language of the
Indo-European family. It descended from the
Vulgar Latin of the Roman
Empire, as did all Romance languages. French has evolved from
Gallo-Romance, the spoken
Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in
Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues
d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern
France and in
southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted.
French was also influenced by native
Celtic languages of Northern
Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language
of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past
overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages,
most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be
referred to as "Francophone" in both English and French.
French is an official language in 29 countries across five different
continents, most of which are members of the Organisation
internationale de la
Francophonie (OIF), the community of 84 countries
which share the official use or teaching of French. It is spoken as a
first language (in descending order of the number of speakers) in
France, Canadian provinces of Quebec,
New Brunswick as
well as other
Wallonia and Brussels),
Switzerland (cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Jura,
Neuchâtel, Vaud, Valais), Monaco, parts of the United States
(Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont), and by various
communities elsewhere. In 2015, approximately 40% of the
francophone population (including L2 and partial speakers) lived in
Europe, 35% in sub-Saharan Africa, 15% in North Africa and the Middle
East, 8% in the Americas, and 1% in Asia and Oceania. French is the
fourth most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union. Of
Europeans who speak other languages natively, approximately one-fifth
are able to speak French as a second language. French is the second
most taught foreign language in the EU. French is also the tenth
most spoken language in the world, behind Mandarin Chinese, English,
Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, Malay, Russian, Bengali, and Portuguese, and
is the second most studied language worldwide (with about 120 million
As a result of French and Belgian colonialism from the 16th century
onward, French was introduced to new territories in the Americas,
Africa and Asia. Most second-language speakers reside in Francophone
Africa, in particular Gabon, Algeria, Mauritius,
Senegal and Ivory
French is estimated to have about 76 million native speakers,
and another 77 to 110 million secondary speakers who speak it to
varying degrees of proficiency, mainly in Africa. According to the
Organisation internationale de la
Francophonie (OIF), approximately
274 million people worldwide are "able to speak the language", without
specifying the criteria for this estimation or whom it
encompasses. According to a demographic projection led by the
Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence
universitaire de la francophonie, the total number of French speakers
will reach approximately 500 million in 2025 and 650 million by
2050. OIF estimates 700 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in
French has a long history as an international language of literature
and scientific standards and is a primary or second language of many
international organisations including the United Nations, the European
Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Trade
Organization, the International Olympic Committee, and the
International Committee of the Red Cross. In 2011, Bloomberg
Businessweek ranked French the third most useful language for
business, after English and Standard Mandarin Chinese.
1 Geographic distribution
1.4.1 Southeast Asia
1.5 Middle East
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates and Qatar
1.6 Oceania and Australasia
3.1 Old French
3.2 Middle French
3.3 Modern French
4 Current status and economic, cultural and institutional importance
6 Writing system
7.2.1 Moods and tense-aspect forms
184.108.40.206 Finite moods
220.127.116.11.1 Indicative (Indicatif)
18.104.22.168.2 Subjunctive (Subjonctif)
22.214.171.124.3 Imperative (Imperatif)
126.96.36.199.4 Conditional (Conditionnel)
188.8.131.52 Non-Finite moods
Present participle (Participe présent)
Past participle (Participe passé)
184.108.40.206 Word order
10 See also
11 Notes and references
12 Further reading
13 External links
13.2 Courses and tutorials
13.3 Online dictionaries
Main article: Geographical distribution of French speakers
Knowledge of French in the
European Union and candidate countries
Spoken by 12% of the European Union's population, French is the fourth
most widely spoken mother tongue in the EU after German, English and
Italian; it is also the third-most widely known language of the Union
after English and German (33% of the EU population report knowing how
to speak English, 22% of Europeans understand German, 20%
Under the Constitution of France, French has been the official
language of the Republic since 1992 (although the ordinance of
Villers-Cotterêts made it mandatory for legal documents in 1539).
France mandates the use of French in official government publications,
public education except in specific cases (though these
dispositions[clarification needed] are often ignored) and legal
contracts; advertisements must bear a translation of foreign words.
In Belgium, French is the official language of
Wallonia (excluding a
part of the East Cantons, which are German-speaking) and one of the
two official languages—along with Dutch—of the Brussels-Capital
Region, where it is spoken by the majority of the population often as
their primary language.
French is one of the four official languages of
with German, Italian, and Romansh) and is spoken in the western part
of Switzerland, called Romandy, of which
Geneva is the largest city.
The language divisions in
Switzerland do not coincide with political
subdivisions, and some cantons have bilingual status: for example,
cities such as
Biel/Bienne and cantons such as Valais, Fribourg and
Berne. French is the native language of about 23% of the Swiss
population, and is spoken by 50.4% of the population.
French is also an official language of
Monaco and Luxembourg, as well
as in the
Aosta Valley region of Italy, while
French dialects remain
spoken by minorities on the Channel Islands. It is also spoken in
Andorra and is main communication language after Catalan in El Pas de
la Casa. The language is taught as the primary second language in the
German land of Saarland, with French being taught from pre-school and
over 43% of citizens being able to speak French.
Main article: African French
Countries usually considered part of
Their population was 410 million in 2017, and it is forecast to
reach between 848 million and 867 million in 2050.
Countries sometimes considered as
Countries that are not
Francophone but are Members or
Observers of the OIF
A bulk of the world's French-speaking population lives in Africa.
According to the 2007 report by the Organisation Internationale de la
Francophonie, an estimated 115 million African people spread across 31
Francophone countries can speak French as either a first or a second
language. This number does not include the people living in
Francophone African countries who have learned French as a foreign
language. Due to the rise of French in Africa, the total
French-speaking population worldwide is expected to reach 700 million
people in 2050. French is the fastest growing language on the
continent (in terms of either official or foreign languages).
French is mostly a second language in Africa, but it has become a
first language in some urban areas, such as the region of Abidjan,
Ivory Coast and in Libreville, Gabon. There is not a single
African French, but multiple forms that diverged through contact with
various indigenous African languages.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region where the
French language is most
likely to expand, because of the expansion of education and rapid
population growth. It is also where the language has evolved the
most in recent years. Some vernacular forms of French in
Africa can be difficult to understand for French speakers from other
countries, but written forms of the language are very closely
related to those of the rest of the French-speaking world.
Further information: Languages of North America, Languages of South
America, and Languages of the Caribbean
The "arrêt" signs (French for "stop") are used in
Canada while the
English stop, which is also a valid French word, is used in
well as other French-speaking countries and regions.
French is the second most common language in Canada, after English,
and both are official languages at the federal level. It is the first
language of 9.5 million people or 29% and the second language for 2.07
million or 6% of the entire population of Canada. French is the
sole official language in the province of Quebec, being the mother
tongue for some 7 million people, or almost 80% (2006 Census) of the
province. About 95% of the people of
Quebec speak French as either
their first or second language, and for some as their third language.
Quebec is also home to the city of Montreal, which is the world's
4th-largest French-speaking city, by number of first language
New Brunswick and
Manitoba are the only officially
bilingual provinces, though full bilingualism is enacted only in New
Brunswick, where about one third of the population is Francophone.
French is also an official language of all of the territories
(Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon). Out of the three, Yukon
has the most French speakers, comprising just under 4% of the
population. Furthermore, while French is not an official language
in Ontario, the
French Language Services Act
French Language Services Act ensures that provincial
services are to be available in the language. The Act applies to areas
of the province where there are significant
Ontario and Northern Ontario. Elsewhere, sizable
French-speaking minorities are found in southern Manitoba, Nova
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island and the
Port au Port Peninsula
Port au Port Peninsula in
Newfoundland and Labrador, where the unique Newfoundland French
dialect was historically spoken. Smaller pockets of French speakers
exist in all other provinces. The city of Ottawa, the Canadian
capital, is also effectively bilingual, as it is on the other side of
a river from Quebec, opposite the major city of Gatineau, and is
required to offer governmental services in French as well as
French language spread in the United States. Counties marked in
lighter pink are those where 6–12% of the population speaks French
at home; medium pink, 12–18%; darker pink, over 18%. French-based
creole languages are not included.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2011), French is the fourth
most-spoken language in the
United States after English, Spanish, and
Chinese, when all forms of French are considered together and all
dialects of Chinese are similarly combined. French remains the second
most-spoken language in the states of Louisiana, Maine,
Louisiana is home to many distinct dialects,
collectively known as
Cajun French has the largest
number of speakers, mostly living in Acadiana. According to the 2000
United States Census, there are over 194,000 people in
speak French at home, the most of any state if Creole French is
New England French, essentially a variant of Canadian
French, is spoken in parts of New England.
Missouri French was
historically spoken in
Illinois (formerly known as Upper
Louisiana), but is nearly extinct today.
French is one of Haiti's two official languages. It is the principal
language of writing, school instruction, and administrative use. It is
spoken by all educated Haitians and is used in the business sector. It
is also used for ceremonial events such as weddings, graduations and
church masses. About 70–80% of the country's population have Haitian
Creole as their first language; the rest speak French as a first
language. The second official language is the recently standardized
Haitian Creole, which virtually the entire population of
Haitian Creole is one of the French-based creole languages, drawing
the large majority of its vocabulary from French, with influences from
West African languages, as well as several European languages. Haitian
Creole is closely related to
Louisiana Creole and the creole from the
French is the official language of both
French Guiana on the South
American continent, and of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, an
archipelago off the coast of Newfoundland in North America.
Areas of French Colonization
French language in Vietnam,
French language in Laos, and
French language in Cambodia
French was the official language of the colony of French Indochina,
comprising modern-day Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It continues to be
an administrative language in
Laos and Cambodia, although its
influence has waned in recent years. In colonial Vietnam, the
elites primarily spoke French, while many servants who worked in
French households spoke a French pidgin known as "Tây Bồi" (now
extinct). After French rule ended, South
Vietnam continued to use
French in administration, education, and trade. Since the Fall of
Saigon and the opening of a unified Vietnam's economy, French has
gradually been effectively displaced as the main foreign language of
choice by English. French nevertheless maintains its colonial legacy
by being spoken as a second language by the elderly and elite
populations and is presently being revived in higher education and
continues to be a diplomatic language in Vietnam. All three countries
are official members of the OIF.
French language in Lebanon
Town sign in Standard
Arabic and French at the entrance of
A former French colony,
Arabic as the sole official
language, while a special law regulates cases when French can be
publicly used. Article 11 of Lebanon's Constitution states that
Arabic is the official national language. A law determines the cases
in which the
French language is to be used".
French language in
Lebanon is widely used as a second language by the Lebanese people,
and is taught in many schools as a secondary language along with
Arabic and English. The language is also used on
Lebanese pound bank
notes, on road signs, on Lebanese license plates, and on official
buildings (alongside Arabic).
Today, French and English are secondary languages of Lebanon, with
about 40% of the population being
Francophone and 40% Anglophone.
The use of English is growing in the business and media environment.
Out of about 900,000 students, about 500,000 are enrolled in
Francophone schools, public or private, in which the teaching of
mathematics and scientific subjects is provided in French. Actual
usage of French varies depending on the region and social status. One
third of high school students educated in French go on to pursue
higher education in English-speaking institutions. English is the
language of business and communication, with French being an element
of social distinction, chosen for its emotional value. On social
media, French was used on Facebook by just 10% of Lebanese in 2014,
far behind English (78%).
Similarly to Lebanon,
Syria was also a French League of
Nations-mandate area until 1943, but today the
French language is
largely limited to some members of the elite and middle classes.
A significant French-speaking community is also present in Israel,
primarily among the communities of French Jews in Israel, Moroccan
Israel and Lebanese Jews. Many secondary schools offer French
as a foreign language.
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates and Qatar
The UAE has the status in the Organisation internationale de la
Francophonie as an observer state, and
Qatar has the status in the
organization as an associate state. However, in both countries French
is not spoken by almost any of the general population or migrant
workers, but spoken by a small minority of those who invest in
Francophone countries or have other financial or family ties. Their
entrance as observer and associate states respectively into the
organisation was aided a good deal by their investments into the
France itself. A country's status as an observer
state in the Organisation internationale de la
Francophonie gives the
country the right to send representatives to organization meetings and
make formal requests to the organization but they do not have voting
rights within the OIF. A country's status as an associate state
also does not give a country voting abilities but associate states can
discuss and review organization matters.
Oceania and Australasia
CFP franc (€4.20; US$4.90) banknote, used in French Polynesia,
New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna.
French is an official language of the
Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu
where 45% of the population can speak French. In the French
special collectivity of New Caledonia, 97% of the population can
speak, read and write French, whereas only 1% have no knowledge of
French. In French Polynesia, 95% of the population can speak, read
and write French, whereas only 1.5% have no knowledge of French.
In the French collectivity of Wallis and Futuna, 78% of the population
can speak, read and write French, whereas 17% have no knowledge of
Main article: Dialects of the French language
African French including sub-branch
Maghreb French (North African
Jersey Legal French
New Caledonian French
New England French
South East Asian French
West Indian French
Dialects of the French language
Dialects of the French language in the world
Main article: History of French
French is a
Romance language (meaning that it is descended primarily
from Vulgar Latin) that evolved out of the
spoken in northern France. The language's early forms include Old
French and Middle French.
Main article: Old French
The beginning of French in
Gaul was greatly influenced by Germanic
invasions into the country. These invasions had the greatest impact on
the northern part of the country and on the language there. A
language divide began to grow across the country. The population in
the north spoke langue d'oïl while the population in the south spoke
langue d'oc. Langue d'oïl grew into what is known as Old French.
The period of
Old French spanned between the 8th and 14th centuries.
Old French shared many characteristics with Latin. For example, Old
French made use of all possible word orders just as
Main article: Middle French
Old French many dialects emerged but the
Francien dialect is
one that not only continued but also thrived during the Middle French
period (14th century–17th century). Modern French grew out of
Francien dialect. Grammatically, during the period of Middle
French, noun declensions were lost and there began to be standardized
Robert Estienne published the first Latin-French dictionary,
which included information about phonetics, etymology, and
grammar. Politically, the
Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts
Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts (1539)
named French the language of law.
During the 17th century, French replaced
Latin as the most important
language of diplomacy and international relations (lingua franca). It
retained this role until approximately the middle of the 20th century,
when it was replaced by English as the
United States became the
dominant global power following the Second World War. Stanley
Meisler of the
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times said that the fact that the Treaty of
Versailles was written in English as well as French was the "first
diplomatic blow" against the language.
Grand Siècle (17th century) France, under the rule of
powerful leaders such as Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIV, enjoyed a
period of prosperity and prominence among European nations. Richelieu
Académie française to protect the French language.
The Académie removed many words previously used that were unique to
the provinces in France. Written and spoken French became more
practical. One example of a change was the removal of the sound on the
plural “s”. This was the attempt to make French less flowery and
more acceptable in diplomacy rather than poetry. By the early 1800s,
Parisian French had become the primary language of the aristocracy in
Near the beginning of the 19th century, the
French government began to
pursue policies with the end goal of eradicating the many minority and
regional languages (Patois) spoken in France. This began in 1794 with
Henri Grégoire's "Report on the necessity and means to annihilate the
patois and to universalise the use of the French language". When
public education was made compulsory only French was taught and the
use of any other (Patois) language was punished. The goals of the
Public School System were made especially clear to the French speaking
teachers sent to teach students in regions such as
Brittany; "And remember, Gents: you were given your position in order
to kill the Breton language" were instructions given from a French
official to teachers in the French department of
Brittany). The prefect of
Basses-Pyrénées in the French Basque
Country wrote in 1846: "Our schools in the Basque Country are
particularly meant to substitute the
Basque language with
French...". Students were taught that their ancestral languages
were inferior and they should be ashamed of them; this process was
known in the Occitan-speaking region as Vergonha.
Current status and economic, cultural and institutional
Arguably the only language other than English that is spoken on all
continents, French is one of the world's most powerful
languages. It is widely used in diplomacy, being one of the
official languages of the
United Nations (and one of the only 2
working languages of the UN Secretariat), the European Union,
NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the Council of Europe, the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Organization
of American States, the Eurovision Song Contest, the European Space
World Trade Organisation
World Trade Organisation and the North American Free Trade
Agreement. It is also a working language in nonprofit organisations
such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Médecins sans
Frontières, and Médecins du Monde. Given the demographic
prospects of the French-speaking nations of Africa,
Forbes released an
article in 2014 which claimed that French "could be the language of
French is a significant judicial language. It is one of the official
languages of the main international and regional courts, tribunals,
and dispute-settlement bodies such as the African Court on Human and
Peoples' Rights, the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Court of Justice
for the Economic Community of West African States, the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights, the International Court of Justice, the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia,
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Tribunal
for the Law of the Sea the
International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court and the World
Trade Organization Appellate Body. It is the sole internal working
language of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and alongside
English, one of the two working languages of the European Court of
In 1997, George Werber published in Language Today a comprehensive
academic study entitled "The World's 10 most influential
languages". In his article, Werber ranked French as being the
second – after English – most influential language of the world,
ahead of Spanish. His criteria were not solely the numbers of
native speakers, but also included the number of secondary speakers
(which tends to be specially high for French among fellow world
languages); the economic power of the countries using the language;
the number of major areas in which the language is used; the number of
countries using the language, and their respective population; and the
linguistic prestige associated with the mastery of the language
(Werber highlighted in particular that French benefits from a
considerable linguistic prestige). In 2008, Werber reassessed his
article, and concluded that his findings were still correct since "the
situation among the top ten remains unchanged."
Knowledge of French is often considered to be a useful skill by
business owners in the United Kingdom; a 2014 study found that 50% of
British managers considered French to be a valuable asset for their
business, thus ranking French as the most-sought after foreign
language there, ahead of German (49%) and Spanish (44%).
MIT economist Albert Saiz calculated a 2.3% premium for those who have
French as a foreign language in the workplace.
French is taught in many universities around the world and it has
influences especially in the diplomatic, journalistic, legal and
In English-speaking Canada, the
United Kingdom and the Republic of
Ireland, French retains the privilege of being the first foreign
language taught and far ahead of other languages. In the United
States, Spanish is the most commonly taught foreign language, though
French is next.
The future of the
French language is often discussed in the news—for
example, in a recent media debate in New York City. In 2014, The New
York Times documented an increase in the teaching of French in New
York, especially in bilingual programs where only Spanish and Mandarin
are now offered more than French. A few days later, the linguist
John McWhorter launched a frontal attack on the article on his blog at
The New Republic. He stressed that learning French in the United
States is anchored in an outdated view of French as the most widely
spoken language in
Europe at a time when U.S. immigration from outside
Europe was limited. McWhorter argued that young Americans should learn
languages such as Mandarin, Spanish,
Arabic or Hindi. However, in
a study published in March 2014 by
Forbes magazine, the investment
Natixis said that French could become the world's most spoken
language by 2050. It noted that French is spreading in areas where the
population is rapidly increasing, especially in sub-Saharan
Main article: French phonology
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering
support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead
Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see
Although there are many French regional accents, foreign learners
normally use only one variety of the language.
There are a maximum of 17 vowels in French, not all of which are used
in every dialect: /a/, /ɑ/, /e/, /ɛ/, /ɛː/, /ə/, /i/, /o/, /ɔ/,
/y/, /u/, /œ/, /ø/, plus the nasalized vowels /ɑ̃/, /ɛ̃/, /ɔ̃/
and /œ̃/. In France, the vowels /ɑ/, /ɛː/ and /œ̃/ are tending
to be replaced by /a/, /ɛ/ and /ɛ̃/ in many people's speech, but
the distinction of /ɛ̃/ and /œ̃/ is present in Meridional French.
Quebec and Belgian French, the vowels /ɑ/, /ə/, /ɛː/ and /œ̃/
Voiced stops (i.e., /b, d, ɡ/) are typically produced fully voiced
Voiceless stops (i.e., /p, t, k/) are unaspirated.
Nasals: The velar nasal /ŋ/ can occur in final position in borrowed
(usually English) words: parking, camping, swing. The palatal nasal
/ɲ/ can occur in word initial position (e.g., gnon), but it is most
frequently found in intervocalic, onset position or word-finally
Fricatives: French has three pairs of homorganic fricatives
distinguished by voicing, i.e., labiodental /f/~/v/, dental /s/~/z/,
and palato-alveolar /ʃ/~/ʒ/. Notice that /s/~/z/ are dental, like
the plosives /t/~/d/ and the nasal /n/.
French has one rhotic whose pronunciation varies considerably among
speakers and phonetic contexts. In general, it is described as a
voiced uvular fricative, as in [ʁu] roue, "wheel". Vowels are often
lengthened before this segment. It can be reduced to an approximant,
particularly in final position (e.g., fort), or reduced to zero in
some word-final positions. For other speakers, a uvular trill is also
common, and an apical trill [r] occurs in some dialects.
Lateral and central approximants: The lateral approximant /l/ is
unvelarised in both onset (lire) and coda position (il). In the onset,
the central approximants [w], [ɥ], and [j] each correspond to a high
vowel, /u/, /y/, and /i/ respectively. There are a few minimal pairs
where the approximant and corresponding vowel contrast, but there are
also many cases where they are in free variation. Contrasts between
/j/ and /i/ occur in final position as in /pɛj/ paye, "pay", vs.
/pɛi/ pays, "country".
French pronunciation follows strict rules based on spelling, but
French spelling is often based more on history than phonology. The
rules for pronunciation vary between dialects, but the standard rules
final consonants: Final single consonants, in particular s, x, z, t,
d, n, p and g, are normally silent. (A consonant is considered "final"
when no vowel follows it even if one or more consonants follow it.)
The final letters f, k, q, and l, however, are normally pronounced.
The final c is sometimes pronounced like in bac, sac, roc but can also
be silent like in blanc or estomac. The final r is usually silent when
it follows an e in a word of two or more syllables, but it is
pronounced in some words (hiver, super, cancer etc.).
When the following word begins with a vowel, however, a silent
consonant may once again be pronounced, to provide a liaison or "link"
between the two words. Some liaisons are mandatory, for example the s
in les amants or vous avez; some are optional, depending on dialect
and register, for example, the first s in deux cents euros or euros
irlandais; and some are forbidden, for example, the s in beaucoup
d'hommes aiment. The t of et is never pronounced and the silent final
consonant of a noun is only pronounced in the plural and in set
phrases like pied-à-terre.
Doubling a final n and adding a silent e at the end of a word (e.g.,
chien → chienne) makes it clearly pronounced. Doubling a final l and
adding a silent e (e.g., gentil → gentille) adds a [j] sound if the
l is preceded by the letter i.
elision or vowel dropping: Some monosyllabic function words ending in
a or e, such as je and que, drop their final vowel when placed before
a word that begins with a vowel sound (thus avoiding a hiatus). The
missing vowel is replaced by an apostrophe. (e.g., *je ai is instead
pronounced and spelled → j'ai). This gives, for example, the same
pronunciation for l'homme qu'il a vu ("the man whom he saw") and
l'homme qui l'a vu ("the man who saw him"). However, for Belgian
French the sentences are pronounced differently; in the first sentence
the syllable break is as "qu'il-a", while the second breaks as
"qui-l'a". It can also be noted that, in
Quebec French, the second
example (l'homme qui l'a vu) is more emphasized on l'a vu.
French alphabet and French braille
French is written with the 26 letters of the basic
Latin script, with
four diacritics appearing on vowels (circumflex accent, acute accent,
grave accent, diaeresis) and the cedilla appearing in "ç".
There are two ligatures, "œ" and "æ", but they are now often not
used because of the layout of the most common keyboards used in
French-speaking countries. Yet, they cannot be changed for "oe" and
"ae" in formal and literary texts.
French orthography and Reforms of French orthography
French spelling, like English spelling, tends to preserve obsolete
pronunciation rules. This is mainly due to extreme phonetic changes
Old French period, without a corresponding change in
spelling. Moreover, some conscious changes were made to restore Latin
orthography (as with some English words such as "debt"):
Old French doit > French doigt "finger" (
Old French pie > French pied "foot" [
Latin pes (stem: ped-)]
French is a morphophonemic language. While it contains 130 graphemes
that denote only 36 phonemes, many of its spelling rules are likely
due to a consistency in morphemic patterns such as adding suffixes and
prefixes. Many given spellings of common morphemes usually lead to
a predictable sound. In particular, a given vowel combination or
diacritic generally leads to one phoneme. However, there is not a one
to one correlation from a phoneme to its related grapheme, which can
be seen in how tomber, tombai, and tombé all end with the /E/
phoneme. Additionally, there are many variations in the
pronunciation of consonants at the end of words, demonstrated by how
the x in paix is not pronounced though at the end of Aix it is.
As a result, it can be difficult to predict the spelling of a word
based on the sound. Final consonants are generally silent, except when
the following word begins with a vowel (see Liaison (French)). For
example, the following words end in a vowel sound: pied, aller, les,
finit, beaux. The same words followed by a vowel, however, may sound
the consonants, as they do in these examples: beaux-arts, les amis,
French writing, as with any language, is affected by the spoken
language. In Old French, the plural for animal was animals. The /als/
sequence was unstable and was turned into a diphthong /aus/. This
change was then reflected in the orthography: animaus. The us ending,
very common in Latin, was then abbreviated by copyists (monks) by the
letter x, resulting in a written form animax. As the French language
further evolved, the pronunciation of au turned into /o/ so that the u
was reestablished in orthography for consistency, resulting in modern
French animaux (pronounced first /animos/ before the final /s/ was
dropped in contemporary French). The same is true for cheval
pluralized as chevaux and many others. In addition, castel pl. castels
became château pl. châteaux.
Nasal: n and m. When n or m follows a vowel or diphthong, the n or m
becomes silent and causes the preceding vowel to become nasalized
(i.e., pronounced with the soft palate extended downward so as to
allow part of the air to leave through the nostrils). Exceptions are
when the n or m is doubled, or immediately followed by a vowel. The
prefixes en- and em- are always nasalized. The rules are more complex
than this but may vary between dialects.
Digraphs: French uses not only diacritics to specify its large range
of vowel sounds and diphthongs, but also specific combinations of
vowels, sometimes with following consonants, to show which sound is
Gemination: Within words, double consonants are generally not
pronounced as geminates in modern French (but geminates can be heard
in the cinema or TV news from as recently as the 1970s, and in very
refined elocution they may still occur). For example, illusion is
pronounced [ilyzjɔ̃] and not [ilːyzjɔ̃]. But gemination does
occur between words. For example, une info ("a news item" or "a piece
of information") is pronounced [ynɛ̃fo], whereas une nympho ("a
nymphomaniac") is pronounced [ynːɛ̃fo].
Accents are used sometimes for pronunciation, sometimes to distinguish
similar words, and sometimes based on etymology alone.
Accents that affect pronunciation
The acute accent (l'accent aigu) é (e.g., école—school) means that
the vowel is pronounced /e/ instead of the default /ə/.
The grave accent (l'accent grave) è (e.g., élève—pupil) means
that the vowel is pronounced /ɛ/ instead of the default /ə/.
The circumflex (l'accent circonflexe) ê (e.g. forêt—forest) shows
that an e is pronounced /ɛ/ and that an ô is pronounced /o/. In
standard French, it also signifies a pronunciation of /ɑ/ for the
letter â, but this differentiation is disappearing. In the mid-18th
century, the circumflex was used in place of s after a vowel, where
that letter s was not pronounced. Thus, forest became forêt, hospital
became hôpital, and hostel became hôtel.
The diaeresis (le tréma) (e.g., naïf—naive, Noël—Christmas) as
in English, specifies that this vowel is pronounced separately from
the preceding one, not combined, and is not a schwa.
The cedilla (la cédille) ç (e.g., garçon—boy) means that the
letter ç is pronounced /s/ in front of the back vowels a, o and u (c
is otherwise /k/ before a back vowel). C is always pronounced /s/ in
front of the front vowels e, i, and y, thus ç is never found in front
of front vowels.
Accents with no pronunciation effect
The circumflex does not affect the pronunciation of the letters i or
u, nor, in most dialects, a. It usually indicates that an s came after
it long ago, as in île (isle, compare with English island). The
explanation is that some words share the same orthography, so the
circumflex is put here to mark the difference between the two words.
For example, dites (you say) / dîtes (you said), or even du (of the)
/ dû (past for the verb devoir = must, have to, owe; in this case,
the circumflex disappears in the plural and the feminine).
All other accents are used only to distinguish similar words, as in
the case of distinguishing the adverbs là and où ("there", "where")
from the article la ("the" feminine singular) and the conjunction ou
Some proposals exist to simplify the existing writing system, but they
still fail to gather interest.
In 1990, a reform accepted some changes to French orthography. At the
time the proposed changes were considered to be suggestions. In 2016,
France began to use the newer recommended spellings,
with instruction to teachers that both old and new spellings be deemed
Main article: French grammar
French is a moderately inflected language. Nouns and most pronouns are
inflected for number (singular or plural, though in most nouns the
plural is pronounced the same as the singular even if spelled
differently); adjectives, for number and gender (masculine or
feminine) of their nouns; personal pronouns and a few other pronouns,
for person, number, gender, and case; and verbs, for tense, aspect,
mood, and the person and number of their subjects. Case is primarily
marked using word order and prepositions, while certain verb features
are marked using auxiliary verbs. According to the French
lexicogrammatical system, French has a rank-scale hierarchy with
clause as the top rank, which is followed by group rank, work rank,
and morpheme rank. A French clause is made up of groups, groups are
made up of words, and lastly, words are made up of morphemes.
French grammar shares several notable features with most other Romance
the loss of
only two grammatical genders
the development of grammatical articles from
new tenses formed from auxiliaries
Every French noun is either masculine or feminine. Because French
nouns are not inflected for gender, a noun's form cannot specify its
gender. For nouns regarding the living, their grammatical genders
often correspond to that which they refer to. For example, a male
teacher is a "enseignant" while a female teacher is a "enseignante."
However, plural nouns that refer to a group that includes both
masculine and feminine entities are always masculine. So a group of
two male teachers would be "enseignants." A group of two male teachers
and two female teachers would still be "enseignants." In many
situations, and in the case of "enseignant," both the singular and
plural form of a noun are pronounced identically. The article used for
singular nouns is different from that used for plural nouns and the
article provides a distinguishing factor between the two in speech.
For example, the singular "le professeur" or "la professeur(e)" (the
male or female teacher, professor) can be distinguished from the
plural "les professeurs" because "le," "la," and "les" are all
pronounced differently. There are some situations where both the
feminine and masculine form of a noun are the same and the article
provides the only difference. For example, "le dentiste" refers to a
male dentist while "la dentiste" refers to a female dentist.
Main article: French verbs
Moods and tense-aspect forms
French language consists of both finite and non-finite moods. The
finite moods include the indicative mood (indicatif), the subjunctive
mood (subjonctif), the imperative mood, (imperatif), and the
conditional mood (conditionnel). The non-finite moods include the
infinitive mood (infinitif), the present participle (participe
présent), and the past participle (participe passé).
The indicative mood makes use of eight different tense-aspect forms.
These include the present (présent), the simple past (passé composé
and passé simple), the past imperfective (imparfait), the pluperfect
(plus-que-parfait), the simple future (futur simple), the future
perfect (futur antérieur), and the past perfect (passé antérieur).
Some forms are less commonly used today. In today's spoken French, the
passé composé is used while the passé simple is reserved for formal
situations or for literary purposes. Similarly, the plus-que-parfait
is used for speaking rather than the older passé antérieur seen in
Within the indicative mood, the passé composé, plus-que-parfait,
futur antérieur, and passé antérieur all use auxiliary verbs in
nous avons aimé
tu as aimé
vous avez aimé
il/elle a aimé
ils/elles ont aimé
nous aurons aimé
nous avions aimé
nous eûmes aimé
tu auras aimé
vous aurez aimé
tu avais aimé
vous aviez aimé
tu eus aimé
vous eûtes aimé
il/elle aura aimé
ils/elles auront aimé
il/elle avais aimé
ils/elles avaient aimé
il/elle eut aimé
ils/elles eurent aimé
The subjunctive mood only includes four of the tense-aspect forms
found in the indicative: present (présent), simple past (passé
composé), past imperfective (imparfait), and pluperfect
Within the subjunctive mood, the passé composé and plus-que-parfait
use auxiliary verbs in their forms.
nous ayons aimé
nous eussions aimé
tu aies aimé
vous ayez aimé
tu eusses aimé
vous eussiez aimé
il/elle ait aimé
ils/elles aient aimé
il/elle eût aimé
ils/elles eussent aimé
The imperative is used in the present tense (with the exception of a
few instances where it is used in the perfect tense). The imperative
is used to give commands to you (tu), we/us (nous), and plural you
The conditional makes use of the present (présent) and the past
The passé uses auxiliary verbs in its forms.
nous aurions aimé
tu aurais aimé
vous auriez aimé
il/elle aurait aimé
ils/elles auraient aimé
The infinitive can be used in both the present and the past.
Present participle (Participe présent)
The present participle uses the present tense but can also be found in
Past participle (Participe passé)
The past participle is found in the past.
French uses both the active voice and the passive voice. The active
voice is unmarked while the passive voice is formed by using a form of
verb être ("to be") and the past participle.
Example of the active voice:
"Elle aime le chien." She loves the dog.
"Mark a conduit la voiture." Mark drove the car.
Example of the passive voice:
"Le chien est aimé par elle." The dog is loved by her.
"La voiture était conduite par Mark." The car was driven by Mark.
French declarative word order is subject–verb–object although a
pronoun object precedes the verb. Some types of sentences allow for or
require different word orders, in particular inversion of the subject
and verb like "Parlez-vous français?" when asking a question rather
than just "Vous parlez français ?" Both questions mean the same
thing; however, a rising inflection is always used on both of them
whenever asking a question, especially on the second one.
Specifically, the first translates into "Do you speak French?" while
the second one is literally just "You speak French?" To avoid
inversion while asking a question, 'Est-ce que' (literally 'is it
that') may be placed in the beginning of the sentence. "Parlez-vous
français ?" may become "Est-ce que vous parlez français ?"
French also uses verb–object–subject (VOS) and
object–subject–verb (OSV) word order. OSV word order is not used
often and VOS is reserved for formal writings.
The majority of French words derive from
Vulgar Latin or were
Latin or Greek roots. In many cases a single
etymological root appears in French in a "popular" or native form,
inherited from Vulgar Latin, and a learned form, borrowed later from
Classical Latin. The following pairs consist of a native noun and a
brother: frère / fraternel from
Latin frater / fraternalis
finger: doigt / digital from
Latin digitus / digitalis
faith: foi / fidèle from
Latin fides / fidelis
eye: œil / oculaire from
Latin oculus / ocularis
However, a historical tendency to gallicise
Latin roots can be
identified, whereas English conversely leans towards a more direct
incorporation of the Latin:
rayonnement / radiation from
éteindre / extinguish from
noyau / nucleus from
ensoleillement / insolation from
There are also noun-noun and adjective-adjective pairs:
thing/cause: chose / cause from
cold: froid / frigide from
It can be difficult to identify the
Latin source of native French
words, because in the evolution from Vulgar Latin, unstressed
syllables were severely reduced and the remaining vowels and
consonants underwent significant modifications.
More recently the linguistic policy of the
French language academies
Quebec has been to provide French equivalents to (mainly
English) imported words, either by using existing vocabulary,
extending its meaning or deriving a new word according to French
morphological rules. The result is often two (or more) co-existing
terms for describing the same phenomenon.
Root Languages for Words of Foreign Origin
Germanic Languages (13.095%)
Gallo-Romance Languages (11.452%)
Celtic Languages (3.810%)
Native American Languages
Native American Languages (2.405%)
Asian Languages (2.119%)
Afro-Asian Languages (1.333%)
Slavic and Baltic Languages (1.310%)
Other Languages (3.429%)
mercatique / marketing
finance fantôme / shadow banking
bloc-notes / notepad
ailière / wingsuit
tiers-lieu / coworking
It is estimated that 12% (4,200) of common French words found in a
typical dictionary such as the
Petit Larousse or Micro-Robert Plus
(35,000 words) are of foreign origin (where Greek and
words are not seen as foreign). About 25% (1,054) of these foreign
words come from English and are fairly recent borrowings. The others
are some 707 words from Italian, 550 from ancient Germanic languages,
481 from other
Gallo-Romance languages, 215 from Arabic, 164 from
German, 160 from Celtic languages, 159 from Spanish, 153 from Dutch,
112 from Persian and Sanskrit, 101 from Native American languages, 89
from other Asian languages, 56 from other Afro-Asiatic languages, 55
Slavic languages and Baltic languages, 10 from Basque and 144
(about 3%) from other languages.
One study analyzing the degree of differentiation of Romance languages
in comparison to
Latin estimated that among the languages analyzed
French has the greatest distance from Latin.
Lexical similarity is
89% with Italian, 80% with Sardinian, 78% with Rhaeto-Romance, and 75%
with Romanian, Spanish and Portuguese.
The French counting system is partially vigesimal: twenty (vingt) is
used as a base number in the names of numbers from 80 to 99. The
French word for 80 is quatre-vingts, literally "four twenties", and
the word for 75 is soixante-quinze, literally "sixty-fifteen". This
reform arose after the
French Revolution to unify the different
counting systems (mostly vigesimal near the coast, because of Celtic
(via Breton) and Viking influences). This system is comparable to the
archaic English use of score, as in "fourscore and seven" (87), or
"threescore and ten" (70).
Old French (during the Middle Ages), all numbers from 30 to 99
could be said in either base 10 or base 20, e.g. vint et doze (twenty
and twelve) for 32, dous vinz et diz (two twenties and ten) for 50,
uitante for 80, or nonante for 90.
Belgian French, Swiss French, Aostan French and the French used in
the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Burundi are different
in this respect. In the French spoken in these places, 70 and 90 are
septante and nonante. In Switzerland, depending on the local dialect,
80 can be quatre-vingts (Geneva, Neuchâtel, Jura) or huitante (Vaud,
Valais, Fribourg). Octante had been used in
Switzerland in the past,
but is now considered archaic, while in the
Aosta Valley 80 is
Belgium and in its former African colonies, however,
quatre-vingts is universally used.
French, like most European languages, uses a space to separate
thousands where English uses a comma or (more recently) a space.
The comma is used in French numbers as a decimal point: 2,5 = deux
Cardinal numbers in French, from 0 to 20, are as follows:
Zero: zéro /ze.ʁo/
One: un/une /œ̃/ (m) ~ /yn/ (f)
Two: deux /dø/
Three: trois /tʁwɑ/
Four: quatre /katʁ/
Five: cinq /sɛ̃k/
Six: six /sis/
Seven: sept /sɛt/
Eight: huit /ɥit/
Nine: neuf[a] /nœf/
Ten: dix /dis/
Eleven: onze /ɔ̃z/
Twelve: douze /duz/
Thirteen: treize /tʁɛz/
Fourteen: quatorze /katɔʁz/
Fifteen: quinze /kɛ̃z/
Sixteen: seize /sɛz/
Seventeen: dix-sept /dissɛt/
Eighteen: dix-huit /diz‿ɥit/
Nineteen: dix-neuf /diznœf/
Twenty: vingt /vɛ̃/
After Twenty, numbers use base ten logic (vingt et un, vingt-deux,
Cardinal numbers in French, by tens from 10 to 100, are as follows:
Ten: dix /dis/
Twenty: vingt /vɛ̃/
Thirty: trente /tʁɑ̃t/
Forty: quarante /ka.ʁɑ̃t/
Fifty: cinquante /sɛ̃.kɑ̃t/
Sixty: soixante /swa.sɑ̃t/
Seventy: soixante-dix /swa.sɑ̃t.dis/ or septante[b] /sɛp.tɑ̃t/
Eighty: quatre-vingts /ka.tʁɘ.vɛ̃/, huitante[c] /ɥi.tɑ̃t/ or
Ninety: quatre-vingt-dix /ka.tʁɘ.vɛ̃.dis/ or nonante[e]
One hundred: cent /sɑ̃(t)/
After One hundred, numbers use base ten logic (cent dix, cent vingt,
Cardinal numbers in French, by hundreds from 100 to 2000, are as
One hundred: cent /sɑ̃(t)/
Two hundred: deux cents
Three hundred: trois cents, (Archaism: quinze-vingts)
Four hundred: quatre cents
Five hundred: cinq cents
Six hundred: six cents
Seven hundred: sept cents
Eight hundred: huit cents
Nine hundred: neuf cents
One thousand: mille[f]
One thousand one hundred: onze cents or mille cent[g]
One thousand two hundred: douze cents or mille deux cents[g]
One thousand three hundred: treize cents or mille trois cents[g]
One thousand four hundred: quatorze cents or mille quatre cents[g]
One thousand five hundred: quinze cents or mille cinq cents[g]
One thousand six hundred: seize cents or mille six cents[g]
One thousand seven hundred: dix-sept cents or mille sept cents
One thousand eight hundred: dix-huit cents or mille huit cents
One thousand nine hundred: dix-neuf cents or mille neuf cents
Two thousand: deux mille
After deux mille (2000), only the second option is used (deux mille
cent, deux mille deux cents, deux mille trois cents...)
The words vingt and cent take the plural -s only when they are the
last word of the number: quatre-vingts (eighty) and quatre-vingt-un
(eighty-one), cinq cents (five hundred) and cinq cent trente (five
hundred and thirty). When a number using vingt or cent is used as an
ordinal numeral adjective, the words vingt or cent stay unchanged.
Cardinal numbers in French, by exponentiation points, from 100 to
1020, are as follows:
One: un/une /œ̃/ (m) ~ /yn/ (f)
Ten: dix /dis/
One hundred: cent /sɑ̃(t)/
One thousand: mille /mil/
Ten thousand: dix mille
Hundred thousand: cent mille
One million: un million /mi.ljɔ̃/
Ten million: dix millions
Hundred million: cent millions
One billion: un milliard
Ten billion: dix milliards
Hundred billion: cent milliards
One trillion: un billion /bi.ljɔ̃/
Ten trillion: dix billions
Hundred trillion: cent billions
One quadrillion: un billiard
Ten quadrillion: dix billiards
Hundred quadrillion: cent billiards
One quintillion: un trillion
Ten quintillion: dix trillions
Hundred quintillion: cent trillions
^ It has been suggested that Nine and New homophonographs are related
and that it would be an unusual preservation of the octal number
system speculated to be formerly used in proto-Indo-European language,
though the evidence supporting this is slim.
^ Septante is used in
Belgium and in Switzerland. Its use is dated in
France and archaic elsewhere in France.
^ Huitante is used in Vaud, Valais, Fribourg, archaic in France.
^ Octante is used, but dated, in Romandie and in Southern France. Its
use is archaic in other parts of France.
^ Nonante is used in Belgium,
Switzerland and, dated, in Eastern
France, archaic in other parts of France.
^ Formerly singular of the now invariable mille, mil is now only used
in formal documents to write dates between mil un (1001) and mil neuf
cent quatre-vingt-dix-neuf (1999).
^ a b c d e f While both styles are correct and concurrently used,
numbers above mille and under deux mille are usually counted by
hundreds from onze cents up to seize cent quatre-vingt-dix-neuf and
are then indifferently counted both styles in informal language
while the count by adding hundreds to one thousand, like in mille
cent, mille six cents, is favoured in written language, especially in
juridical, administrative and scientific works.
^ Nota Bene that English use the short scale while French use the long
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Français (people) or français (language)
Anglais (people) or anglais (language)
Oui (si when countering an assertion or a question expressed in the
Bonjour ! (formal) or Salut ! (informal) or "Allô" (Quebec
French or when answering on the telephone)
Bonne nuit !
Au revoir !
Have a nice day!
Bonne journée !
Please/if you please
S’il vous plaît (formal) or S’il te plaît (informal)
[sɪl vu plɛ]
[sil vu plɛ]
You are welcome
De rien (informal) or Ce n’est rien (informal) ("it is nothing") or
Je vous en prie (formal) or Je t’en prie (informal) or Bienvenue
I am sorry
Pardon or Désolé or Je suis désolé (if male) / Je suis désolée
(if female) or Excuse-moi (informal) / Excusez-moi (formal) / "Je
[paʁdɒ̃] / [dezɔle]
[paʁdõ] / [dezɔle]
Quoi ? (←informal; used as "What?" in English) or Pardon ?
(←formal; used the same as "Excuse me?" in English)
What is your name?
Comment vous appelez-vous ? (formal) or Comment
t’appelles-tu ? (informal)
[kɔmã vu z‿aple vu], [kɔmã t‿apɛl t͡sy]
[kɔmɒ̃ vu z‿aple vu], [kɔmɒ̃ t‿apɛl ty]
My name is...
Parce que / Car
À cause de
[a kou̯z dœ]
[a koz dø]
I do not understand.
Je ne comprends pas.
[ʒœ nœ kõpʁ̥ã pɔ]
[ʒø nø kõpʁ̥ɒ̃ pa]
Yes, I understand.
Oui, je comprends. Except when responding to a negatively posed
question, in which case Si is used preferentially over Oui
[wi ʒœ kõpʁ̥ã]
[wi ʒø kõpʁ̥ɒ̃]
Je suis d’accord. "D’accord" can be used without je suis.
[ʒə sɥi dakɑɔ̯ʁ]
[ʒø sɥi dakɔʁ]
Au secours ! (à l’aide !)
At what time...?
À quelle heure...?
[a kɛl aœ̯ʁ]
[a kɛl œʁ]
Can you help me, please?
Pouvez-vous m’aider s’il vous plaît ? / Pourriez-vous
m’aider s’il vous plaît ? (formal) or Peux-tu m’aider
s’il te plaît ? / Pourrais-tu m’aider s’il te plaît
[puve vu mɛːde sɪl vu plɛ]
[puve vu mede sil vu plɛ]
Where are the toilets?
Où sont les toilettes ?
[u sõ le twalɛt]
[u sõ le twalɛt]
Do you speak English?
Parlez-vous (l')anglais ? / Est-ce que vous parlez
[ɛs kœ vu paʁle lãɡlɛ]
[paʁle vu ɒ̃ɡlɛ]
I do not speak French.
Je ne parle pas français.
[ʒœ nœ paʁl pɔ fʁãsɛ]
[ʒø nø paʁl pa fʁɒ̃sɛ]
I do not know.
Je sais pas. (syntax mistake and over-familiar)
Je ne sais pas.
Je ne sais. (formal, rare)
[ʒœ se pɔ]
[ʒœ n(œ) se pɔ]
[ʒœ n(œ) se]
[ʒø sɛ pa]
[ʒø n(ø) sɛ pa]
[ʒø n(ø) sɛ]
I am thirsty.
J’ai soif. (literally, "I have thirst")
I am hungry.
J’ai faim. (literally, "I have hunger")
How are you? / How are things going? / How is everything?
Comment allez-vous ? (formal) or Ça va ? / Comment ça
va ? (informal)
[kɔmã t‿ale vu]
[kɔmɒ̃ t‿ale vu]
I am (very) well / Things are going (very) well // Everything is
Je vais (très) bien (formal) or Ça va (très) bien. / Tout va
(très) bien (informal)
[ʒœ vɛ (tʁɛ) bjẽ]
[ʒø vɛ (tʁɛ) bjæ̃]
I am (very) bad / Things are (very) bad / Everything is (very) bad
Je vais (très) mal (formal) or Ça va (très) mal / Tout va (très)
[ʒœ vɛ (tʁɛ) mal]
[ʒø vɛ (tʁɛ) mal]
I am all right/so-so / Everything is all right/so-so
Assez bien or Ça va comme ci, comme ça or simply Ça va.. (Sometimes
said: « Couci, couça. », informal: "bof") i.e.
« Comme ci, comme ça. »)
I am fine.
Ça va bien.
[sa vɔ bjẽ]
[sa va bjæ̃]
(How) may I help you? / Do you need help? /
(Comment) puis-je vous aider ? Avez-vous besoin d'aide ?
[(kɔmã) pɥiʒ vu z‿ɛːde]
[(kɔmɑ̃) pɥiʒ vu z‿ede]
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French language in Canada
List of countries where French is an official language
List of English words of French origin
List of French loanwords in Persian
List of French words and phrases used by English speakers
List of German words of French origin
Official bilingualism in Canada
Varieties of French
Notes and references
^ a b c "Ethnologue: French". Retrieved 23 September 2017.
French language is on the up, report reveals". 6 November
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
(2017). "Standard French".
Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck
Institute for the Science of Human History.
^ "In which countries of the world is this language spoken..."
Retrieved 21 November 2017.
^ "Census in Brief: English, French and official language minorities
in Canada". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2018-03-25.
^ a b "The status of French in the world". Retrieved 23 April
^ a b European Commission (June 2012), "Europeans and their Languages"
Eurobarometer 386, Europa, p. 5, archived from the
original (PDF) on 2016-01-06, retrieved 7 September 2014
^ "Why Learn French". Archived from the original on 2008-06-19.
^ Develey, Alice (25 February 2017). "Le français est la deuxième
langue la plus étudiée dans l'Union européenne" – via Le
^ "How many people speak French and where is French spoken". Retrieved
21 November 2017.
^ a b c (in French) La
Francophonie dans le monde 2006–2007
published by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.
Nathan, Paris, 2007.
^ a b "Qu'est-ce que la Francophonie?".
^ "The World's Most Widely Spoken Languages". Archived from the
original on 27 September 2011.
French language is on the up, report reveals".
^ "Agora: La francophonie de demain". Retrieved 13 June 2011.
^ Lauerman, John (30 August 2011). "Mandarin Chinese Most Useful
Business Language After English". Bloomberg Business. New York.
Archived from the original on 29 March 2015. French, spoken by
68 million people worldwide and the official language of
27 countries, was ranked second [to Mandarin].
^ EUROPA, data for EU25, published before 2007 enlargement.
^ "Language knowledge in Europe".
^ Novoa, Cristina; Moghaddam, Fathali M. (2014). "Applied
Perspectives: Policies for Managing Cultural Diversity". In
Benet-Martínez, Verónica; Hong, Ying-Yi. The Oxford Handbook of
Multicultural Identity. Oxford Library of Psychology. New York: Oxford
University Press. p. 468. ISBN 978-0-19-979669-4.
LCCN 2014006430. OCLC 871965715. It is important to note,
however, that not all countries have an official language. Until 1992,
France had discouraged the use of regional languages ... in schools
and businesses but had stopped short of making an official language
declaration. In 1992, the government ratified ... a constitutional
amendment that made French the sole official language of the
^ Van Parijs, Philippe, Professor of economic and social ethics at the
UCLouvain, Visiting Professor at
Harvard University and the KULeuven.
"Belgium's new linguistic challenge" (PDF). KVS Express (supplement to
newspaper De Morgen) March–April 2006: Article from original source
(pdf 4.9 MB) pp. 34–36 republished by the Belgian Federal
Government Service (ministry) of Economy –
Directorate–general Statistics Belgium. Archived from the original
(pdf 0.7 MB) on 13 June 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2007. CS1
maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) – The linguistic
Belgium (and in particular various estimates of the
population speaking French and Dutch in Brussels) is discussed in
^ Le français et les langues. Books.google.com. 1 January 2007.
ISBN 978-2-87747-881-6. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
^ "Allemagne : le français, bientôt la deuxième langue
officielle de la Sarre". 28 April 2014.
^ "German region of
Saarland moves towards bilingualism". 21 January
2014 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
^ a b Population Reference Bureau. "2017 World Population Data Sheet"
(PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-16.
^ United Nations. "World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision"
(XLSX). Retrieved 2017-08-16.
French language growing, especially in Africa –
RFI". Retrieved 2013-05-25.
^ "Agora: La francophonie de demain". Retrieved 2011-06-13.
^ "Bulletin de liaison du réseau démographie" (PDF). Archived from
the original (PDF) on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
^ (in French) Le français à Abidjan : Pour une approche
syntaxique du non-standard by Katja Ploog, CNRS Editions, Paris, 2002.
^ "L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde". CEFAN (Chaire pour le
développement de la recherche sur la culture d’expression
française en Amérique du Nord,
Université Laval (in French).
Jacques Leclerc. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
^ (in French) "En Afrique, il est impossible de parler d'une forme
unique du français mais..."
^ France-Diplomatie Archived 27 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
"Furthermore, the demographic growth of Southern hemisphere countries
leads us to anticipate a new increase in the overall number of French
^ (in French) "Le français, langue en évolution. Dans beaucoup de
pays francophones, surtout sur le continent africain, une proportion
importante de la population ne parle pas couramment le français
(même s'il est souvent la langue officielle du pays). Ce qui signifie
qu'au fur et à mesure que les nouvelles générations vont à
l'école, le nombre de francophones augmente : on estime qu'en
2015, ceux-ci seront deux fois plus nombreux qu'aujourd'hui."
^ (in French) c) Le sabir franco-africain: "C'est la variété du
français la plus fluctuante. Le sabir franco-africain est instable et
hétérogène sous toutes ses formes. Il existe des énoncés où les
mots sont français mais leur ordre reste celui de la langue
africaine. En somme, autant les langues africaines sont envahies par
les structures et les mots français, autant la langue française se
métamorphose en Afrique, donnant naissance à plusieurs variétés."
^ (in French) République centrafricaine: Il existe une autre
variété de français, beaucoup plus répandue et plus
permissive : le français local. C'est un français très
influencé par les langues centrafricaines, surtout par le sango.
Cette variété est parlée par les classes non instruites, qui n'ont
pu terminer leur scolarité. Ils utilisent ce qu'ils connaissent du
français avec des emprunts massifs aux langues locales. Cette
variété peut causer des problèmes de compréhension avec les
francophones des autres pays, car les interférences linguistiques,
d'ordre lexical et sémantique, sont très importantes. (One example
of a variety of
African French that is difficult to understand for
European French speakers).
^ "What are the largest French-speaking cities in the world? Tourist
Maker". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
^ "Detailed Mother Tongue (186), Knowledge of Official Languages (5),
Age Groups (17A) and Sex (3) (2006 Census)". 2.statcan.ca. December 7,
2010. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
^ "Language Use in the United States: 2011, American Community Survey
Reports, Camille Ryan, Issued August 2013" (PDF).
^ U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Summary
File 3 – Language
Spoken at Home: 2000.
^ Ammon, Ulrich; International Sociological Association (1989). Status
and Function of Languages and Language Varieties. Walter de Gruyter.
pp. 306–08. ISBN 0-89925-356-3. Retrieved 14 November
^ Ministère de l'Éducation nationale
^ "Guyana – World Travel Guide".
^ "Saint Pierre and Miquelon". www.ciaworldfactbook.us.
^ French Declines in Indochina, as English Booms, International Herald
Tribune, 16 October 1993: "In both
Cambodia and Laos, French remains
the official second language of government."
^ "The role of English in Vietnam's foreign language policy: A brief
history". The role of English in Vietnam's foreign language policy: A
^ "84 ÉTATS ET GOUVERNEMENTS" (PDF).
^ Prof. Dr. Axel Tschentscher, LL.M. "Article 11 of the Lebanese
Constitution". Servat.unibe.ch. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
^ OIF 2014, p. 217.
^ OIF 2014, p. 218.
^ OIF 2014, p. 358.
Qatar Became a
Francophonie grants observer status to Ontario". CBC News.
^ "Greece joins international
Francophone body". EURACTIV.com.
^ Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. "Estimation du
nombre de francophones dans le monde1" (PDF). Archived from the
original (PDF) on 20 January 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
^ INSEE, Government of France. "P9-1 – Population de 14 ans et plus
selon la connaissance du français, le sexe, par commune, "zone" et
par province de résidence" (XLS) (in French). Retrieved 3 October
^ Institut Statistique de Polynésie Française (ISPF). "Recensement
2012 – Langues : Chiffres clés" (in French). Retrieved 30
^ INSEE, Government of France. "Tableau Pop_06_1 : Population
selon le sexe, la connaissance du français et l'âge décennal" (XLS)
(in French). Retrieved 3 October 2009.
^ a b c "French Literature".
"French Literature"] Check url= value (help). Britannica Academic,
^ a b Lahousse, Karen; Lamiroy, Béatrice (2012). "
Word order in
French, Spanish and Italian:A grammaticalization account". Folia
Linguistica. 46 (2). doi:10.1515/flin.2012.014.
^ Victor, Joseph M. (1978). Charles de Bovelles, 1479–1553: An
Intellectual Biography. Librairie Droz. p. 28.
^ The World's 10 Most Influential Languages Archived 12 March 2008 at
the Wayback Machine. Top Languages. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
French language today: a linguistic introductionGoogle Books
Retrieved 27 June 2011
^ Meisler, Stanley. "Seduction Still Works : French – a
Language in Decline." Los Angeles Times. March 1, 1986. p. 2.
Retrieved on May 18, 2013.
^ "Vergonha".. 2017-08-20.
^ a b Labouysse, Georges. L'Imposture. Mensonges et manipulations de
l'Histoire officielle. France: Institut d'études occitanes.
^ a b Rodney Ball, Dawn Marley, The French-Speaking World: A Practical
Introduction to Sociolinguistic Issues, Taylor & Francis, 2016,
^ Kai Chan, Distinguished Fellow,
INSEAD Innovation and Policy
Initiative, "These are the most powerful languages in the world",
World Economic Forum, December 2016
^ The French Ministry of Foreign affairs. "France-Diplomatie". France
Diplomatie: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International
^ Want To Know The Language Of The Future? The Data Suggests It Could
Be...French, Forbes, March 21, 2014
^ On the Linguistic Design of Multinational Courts – The French
Capture, forthcoming in 14 INT’L J. CONST. L. (2016), Mathilde Cohen
^ a b c d The World's 10 most influential languages, George Werber,
1997, Language Today, retrieved on scribd.com
^ Foreign languages 'shortfall' for business, CBI says
^ Johnson (9 December 2017). "Johnson: What is a foreign language
worth?". The Economist. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
^ "A Big Advocate of French in New York's Schools: France".
^ "Let's Stop Pretending That French Is an Important Language". New
Republic. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
^ "Want To Know The Language Of The Future? The Data Suggests It Could
^ "The contribution of morphological awareness to the spelling of
morphemes and morphologically complex words in French". rdcu.be.
^ Brissaud, Catherine; Chevrot, Jean-Pierre (2011). "The late
acquisition of a major difficulty of French inflectional orthography:
The homophonic /E/ verbal endings". Writing Systems Research. 3 (2):
^ (in French) Fonétik.fr writing system proposal.
^ (in French) Ortofasil writing system proposal.
^ (in French) Alfograf writing system proposal.
^ (in French) Ortograf.net writing system proposal.
^ "End of the circumflex? Changes in French spelling cause uproar".
BBC News. 2016-02-05. Retrieved 2017-07-30.
^ Caffarel, Alice; Martin, J.R.; Matthiessen, Christian M.I.M.
Language Typology: A Functional Perspective. Amsterdam/Philadelphia:
John Benjamins Publishing Company.
^ a b Walter & Walter 1998.
^ Pei, Mario (1949). Story of Language. ISBN 03-9700-400-1.
^ a b Ethnologue report for language code:ita (Italy) – Gordon,
Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World,
Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version
^ Brincat (2005)
^ Einhorn, E. (1974). Old French: A Concise Handbook. Cambridge,
England: Cambridge University Press. p. 110.
^ a b Jean-Pierre Martin, Description lexicale du français parlé en
Vallée d'Aoste, éd. Musumeci, Quart, 1984.
^ "Septante, octante (huitante), nonante". langue-fr.net (in
French). . See also the English article on Welsh
language, especially the section "Counting system" and its note on the
influence of Celtic in the French counting system.
^ "Questions de langue: Nombres (écriture, lecture, accord)" (in
French). Académie française. Archived from the original on 1 January
2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. Dans un souci de lisibilité, on
sépare les milliers par une espace insécable dans les nombres
exprimant une quantité : 1 000 m,
342 234 euros, 1 234 °C, etc.
En revanche, dans les nombres ayant fonction de numérotage (pages,
dates, articles de code), les chiffres ne sont jamais séparés :
page 1254 of the 1992 edition, article 1246 of the Civil
La virgule (et non le point comme chez les anglo‑saxons) sépare la
partie entière de la partie décimale : π vaut
environ 3,14 ; 14,5 est la moitié de 29.
^ Winter, Werner (1991). "Some thoughts about Indo-European numerals".
In Gvozdanović, Jadranka. Indo-European numerals. Trends in
Linguistics. 57. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 13–14.
ISBN 3-11-011322-8. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
^ "Questions de langue: 'An deux mil' ou 'an deux mille'?" (in
French). Académie française. Archived from the original on 1 January
2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. L’Académie n’admet (et ne
privilégie) la variante mil de mille, dans les dates, que lorsque le
numéral au singulier est suivi d’un ou plusieurs autres
^ Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l'imprimerie
nationale (in French) (6th ed.). Paris: Imprimerie nationale. March
2011. p. 41. ISBN 978-2-7433-0482-9. Au-delà de
mille, on compte habituellement : ↲ onze, douze, treize,
quatorze, quinze, seize cents ↲ plutôt que : ↲ mille cent,
mille deux cents, mille trois cents... ↲ mais on emploiera
indifféremment : ↲ dix-sept cents ou mille sept cents...
^ "Questions de langue: Nombres (écriture, lecture, accord)" (in
French). Académie française. Archived from the original on 1 January
2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. Pour les dates (et les nombres en
général) entre 1000 et 2000, il y a concurrence entre deux
lectures : mille six cent trente‑cinq ou seize cent
Aucune de ces formes ne peut être considérée comme fautive.
Cependant, dans l’usage courant, on dit plutôt onze cents, douze
cents, etc. : onze cents francs, seize cents euros, tandis que
dans la langue écrite, et notamment dans un texte juridique,
administratif ou scientifique, on préférera les formes : mille
cent, mille deux cents, etc.
^ "Questions de langue: Nombres (écriture, lecture, accord)" (in
French). Académie française. Archived from the original on 1 January
2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. Vingt et cent se terminent par
un s quand ils sont précédés d’un nombre qui les
multiplie, mais ils restent invariables s’ils sont suivis d’un
autre nombre ou de mille. On dira ainsi : deux cents euros mais
deux cent vingt euros ; quatre‑vingts hommes mais
quatre‑vingt‑deux hommes. Ils restent également invariables
lorsqu’ils sont employés comme adjectifs numéraux ordinaux :
page deux cent ; page quatre‑vingt ; l’an mille neuf
En revanche, vingt et cent varient devant millier, million, milliard,
qui sont des noms et non des adjectifs numéraux : deux cents
millions d’années ; trois cents milliers d’habitants.
^ "Ne". Dire, Ne pas dire. Académie française. 3 November 2011.
Retrieved 30 May 2014. On néglige trop souvent de faire
entendre l’adverbe ne, en faisant de pas l’unique marque de
négation : Je veux pas, je sais pas. Cette habitude, répandue
dans le langage parlé, est une véritable faute.
Trésor de la langue française informatisé. Analyse et
traitement informatique de la langue française. Retrieved 30 May
2014. − Pop. ou très fam. [Avec suppression de ne]
Nadeau, Jean-Benoît, and Julie Barlow (2006). The Story of French.
First U.S. ed. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-34183-0
Ursula Reutner (2017). Manuel des francophonies. Berlin/Boston: de
Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-034670-1
Marc Fumaroli (2011). When The World Spoke French. Translated by
Richard Howard. ISBN 978-1590173756.
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