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111 Core French Words — The Most Commonly Used Words in French

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Want to jumpstart your French by learning the core words you need to understand the language?

With about 100 French words, you can understand the majority of what you hear. It’s important to learn the right words, though!

These words are those that appear most in newspapers, novels, and even conversations. Why? Many words like le, la, les, de, etc. appear in almost every French sentence, much like the English “a”, “the”, or “of”.

Building a foundation in French with these words can help you become fluent in French faster. And the best part is — because these are core words you’ll come across again and again in different contexts, they’re easy to remember!

Something to note is that this word list isn’t just for beginners. Instead, it shares which words to start with based on word-frequency. You can, however, learn some of the basics of French with these French greetings, how to say “thank you” in French, and learn to ask someone “how are you?” in French. Then, you can come back here to pair the basics with what you learn in this post and have a huge headstart!

This list of core French words include nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and other connecting words. Once you get the hang of these core 100 French words, you can continue building your vocabulary to 500 or even 5,000 words in French! On y va ! (“Let’s get to it!”).

The 18 Core French Pronouns

French pronouns — these are words like “I”, “he” or “she” — are important to know. You’ll notice that “you” is on this list twice. That’s because French has two forms for speaking to another person: formal and informal.

  • je – “I”
  • tu – “you”, singular and informal
  • il – “he”
  • elle – “she”
  • on – “one”
  • nous – “we”
  • vous – “you”, plural, or singular and formal
  • ils and elles – they; ils is used for a group of males or mixed gender while elles is used for groups of females only
  • ça – “it, that”
  • ce, cet, cette – “this” (ces, cettes – “these”)
  • moi – “me”
  • toi – “you”, used as an indirect object and as the subject in special cases for emphasis
  • lui – “him, her, it”

The 15 Core French Possessive Pronouns

  • mon, ma, mes – “my”
  • ton, ta, tes – “your”, singular and informal
  • son, sa, ses – “his”, “her”, or “their”
  • notre, nos– “our”
  • votre, vos – “your”, singular and formal or plural
  • leur, leurs – “their”

The Core 6 French Question Words

Who, what, when, where, why, and how. These are core words in every language. Here’s how to say them in French.

  • qui – “who”
  • quoi – “what”
  • quand – “when”
  • – “where”
  • pourquoi – “why”
  • comment – “how”

The 2 Core French Interjections

Interjections are words that occur on their own as a kind of utterance. There are a few French interjections that are useful to know.

  • Non – “no”
  • Oui – “yes”

The 22 Core French Nouns

Wondering which French nouns are the best to learn? Depending on what activities interest you, different nouns are going to be more relevant than others. We highly recommend creating your own lists and scripts. Based on word frequency, however, these are the words you’re most likely to come across.

  • tout, tous, toute, toutes – “any, every, entire, very, whole, all”
  • ici – “here”
  • – “there”
  • rien – “nothing”
  • peu – “little, not very, bit, few”
  • chose – “thing”
  • autre – “other”
  • temps – “time, times, weather, days”
  • vie – “life”
  • accord – “agreement, understanding, deal”
  • monde – “world”
  • fois – “time, times”
  • été – “summer”
  • homme – “man, person”
  • père – “father”
  • veut – “want, wish, will, desire”
  • quelque – “some, a few, about”
  • besoin – “need’
  • femme – “woman”

The 12 Core French Verbs

You can get by with knowing a few key verbs in French, but here are 12 of the most common verbs you’ll come across and their conjugations to help get you started.

Many of the most common French verbs are irregular — that means they don’t follow the rules for the three groups of French verbs (-er, -ir, and -re).

être – “to be”

je suis I am nous sommes we are
tu es you are vous êtes you are (formal, plural)
il/elle/on est he/she/one is ils/elles sont they are

avoir – “to have”

j'ai I have nous avons we have
tu as you have vous avez you have (formal, plural)
il/elle/on a he/she/one has ils/elles ont they have

aller – “to go”

je vais I go nous allons we go
tu vas you go vous allez you go(formal, plural)
il/elle/on va he/she/one goes ils/elles vont they go

faire – “to do, to make”

je fais I do/make nous faisons we do/make
tu fais you do/make vous faites you do/make(formal, plural)
il/elle/on fait he/she/one does/makes ils/elles font they do/make

savoir – “to know (something)”

je sais I know nous savons we know
tu sais you know vous savez you know (formal, plural)
il/elle/on sait he/she/one knows ils/elles savent they know

vouloir – “to want”

je veux I want nous voulons we want
tu veux you want vous voulez you want (formal, plural)
il/elle/on veut he/she/one wants ils/elles veulent they want

dire – “to say”

je dis I say nous disons we say
tu dis you say vous dites you say (formal, plural)
il/elle/on dit he/she/one says ils/elles disent they say

pouvoir – “to be able to”

je peux I can nous pouvons we can
tu peux you can vous pouvez you can (formal, plural)
il/elle/on peut he/she/one can ils/elles peuvent they can

voir – “to see”

je vois I see nous voyons we see
tu vois you see vous voyez you see (formal, plural)
il/elle/on voit he/she/one sees ils/elles voient they see

venir – “to come”

je viens I come nous venons we come
tu viens you come vous venez you come (formal, plural)
il/elle/on vient he/she/one comes ils/elles viennent they come

croire – “to believe”

je crois I believe nous croyons we believe
tu crois you believe vous croyez you believe (formal, plural)
il/elle/on croit he/she/one believes ils/elles croient they believe

devoir – “to have to”

je dois I must nous devons we must
tu dois you must vous devez you must (formal, plural)
il/elle/on doit he/she/one must ils/elles doient they must

The 15 Core French Adjectives and Adverbs

Wondering what the most common French adjectives and adverbs are? Look no further than these 15 core French adjectives and adverbs!

  • ne… pas – “not”
  • le, la, les – “the”
  • un, une, des – “a, an”
  • bien – “good, well”
  • plus – “more, most, further, plus”
  • y – “there”, differs from the noun “là” in use as an adverb
  • vraiment – “really, truly, genuinely, actually, indeed”
  • maintenant – “now”
  • toujours – “always, forever”
  • très – “very”
  • même – “same, even”
  • encore – “still, yet, again”
  • jamais – “never”
  • juste – “just, fair, right”
  • trop – “too, overly, too much”

The 21 Core French Conjunctions and Connectors

Learning connector words and conjunctions is a useful way to form sentences and speak French more smoothly. Many of these connectors have multiple translations, but which meaning you’ll use is often deducible through context.

  • de – “of, to, from, by, with, than, at”
  • et – “and”
  • mais – “but”
  • pour – “for*
  • que – “that, whether, than, which, what”
  • à – “to, in, at, with, by”
  • en – “in, into, to, of, at”
  • dans – “in, into, within, on”
  • si – “if, whether, so, that, such, as”
  • avec – “with, to, along with, together with”
  • sur – “on, about, to, over, at, upon, onto, with”
  • comme – “since, as, like, such as”
  • avant – ”prior, before, until, front, forward”
  • après – “afterwards, after, following”
  • ou – “or”
  • par – “by, per, through, via, to, on”
  • aussi – “also, too, as well”
  • alors – “then”
  • sans – “without”
  • sûr – “sure, certain, safe”
  • chez – “in, among, to, amongst”

Strengthen Your French Core with the Most Common French Words

Now that you know the 111 core French words, you can get started and try them out with exchange partners. Looking for a good place to put them to use? Try participating in the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge and level up your French in 90 days.

There are countless directions you can take from here in your French learning. And now that you know your core French words, figuring out what the next step is easier than ever. You’re well on your way to diving into the words that are relevant for your personal, daily use. And if you’re looking for more French resources, you can check out our French resources page.

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Shannon Kennedy

Language Encourager, Fluent in Months

Shannon is Head Coach for the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge. She is currently based in Southern California where she performs as a professional musician. Her passions are cooking, reading, traveling and sharing her adventures in language learning.

Speaks: English, French, Mandarin, Russian, Croatian, Japanese

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