About the French Language
Even if you are a complete beginner, you are probably already
familiar with a good range of French words such as bonjour, au
revoir, baguette, croissant and expressions such as c'est la vie,
carte blanche, déjà vu, or je ne sais quoi.
Moreover, as French and English share a common source in Latin,
many words are similar in both languages.
Despite the efforts of the Académie
Française, an association of scholars and writers
founded by Richelieu in the seventeenth century with the aim of
preserving the purity of the French language, French has borrowed
many English words over the years. Le sandwich, le
tee-shirt, le week-end, and, more recently, le
web and on-line are but a few examples. Beware! The
meanings of some of these words have evolved in mysterious ways.
Un parking is a car park and un smoking is a
As French (like Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian)
belongs to the Romance group of European languages that are derived
from Latin, nouns are either masculine or feminine, and articles
and adjectives have to agree with the nouns they accompany. French
has a greater range of tenses and more variation in verbs parts
than English. French also has two ways of addressing people (tu
being the informal and vous the formal 'you' form), which affects
pronouns, possessives, and verb forms.
Like English, French is not a phonetic language: a single sound
can be represented by a variety of different spellings and a single
letter can correspond to a variety of different pronunciations.