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Proofs that Studying French Is not That Arduous

Why is studying French so scary for freshmen? If solely you knew it isn’t that onerous!

Once I began studying French, the most typical response I obtain upon telling somebody that I’m studying French—from English and French audio system alike—was one thing alongside the strains of, “French is so exhausting! I can’t consider you’ll be able to converse like this after solely three months!”

This exclamation was sometimes adopted by exasperated hand wringing over the problem of the pronunciation, the seemingly infinite checklist of exceptions to each grammar rule, the conjugations, and so forth.

French is taken into account by some to be among the many world’s “hardest languages“.

After having formally eclipsed the three-month milestone in my French language research, I’d wish to dispel, once-and-for-all, the (surprisingly) pervasive notion that French is by some means impossibly troublesome to be taught.

Spoiler alert: it’s not.


Your Vocabulary Data in Your Native Tongue Will Assist You a Lot


Any dialogue of why French will not be troublesome for English audio system ought to start with the date September 28, 1066. That’s the date the Norman conquest of England started.

Through the 4 hundred years that adopted, a dialect of French generally known as Anglo-Norman grew to become the language of the crown, the educated elite, the ruling administration and the justice.

Even at present, the Queen’s assent, which should be given to laws handed by parliament in an effort to grow to be regulation, remains to be issued in French.

How cool is that!

Nerdy historic tangents apart, what does any of this must do with studying French these days?

Linguists estimate that about a 3rd of English phrases are derived from French. Because of this as an English speaker, even earlier than you crack open a phrasebook for the very first time, you have got a ready-made vocabulary that you may begin utilizing from day one.

Do you have got six hours to spare? Nice—have a crack at this Wikipedia checklist of shared vocabulary.

Second spoiler alert: it’s lengthy.

Language Hacker Tip: Cheat Your Approach to French Vocabulary

Language hacker tip: From a sensible standpoint, I’ve discovered that anytime I’m at a loss for the suitable French phrase, coating an English phrase in a heavy French accent is a surprisingly efficient technique.

I keep in mind throughout my first week in French class, I used to be attempting to say {that a} sure French phrase exists in English however has a special that means.

I didn’t know the phrase for “that means” in French, so I stated the English phrase “connotation” with a thick French accent. I paused and studied my trainer coyly, ready for her to right me. She checked out me expectantly as if to say, “Effectively, duh! Connotation! Everybody is aware of connotation!”

You’ll discover that many different “_–_tion” phrases seem in French virtually precisely as they do in English. That’s true particularly in British English, which by no means changed the “s” in phrases like réalisation with a “z” as we’ve completed in American English.

The circumflex you discover in lots of phrases normally signifies that an “s” was once current however has since fallen out of use. Thus, phrases like hôpital and forêt translate to “hospital” and “forest” in English.

There are a lot of extra methods like this, and although they’ll’t at all times be completely utilized, these examples ought to offer you a way of simply how a lot linguistic historical past the 2 languages have in frequent.

French Pronunciation Isn’t Too Completely different From What You Already Know

Okay, so maybe you’re pondering that, sure, you notice that English and French have many phrases in frequent… However there’s no method you’re ever going to have the ability to grasp that good accent your fantasy French husband/girlfriend/no matter has.

Ah, however not so quick!

Together with lots of the French phrases that migrated into English got here vestiges of their former pronunciations. Contemplate phrases and expressions like montagejà vubourgeoiscomprisebrochurefilet mignonchauffeurlingerie, and encore.

With out figuring out it, you truly use lots of the sounds present in French usually.

Nonetheless, others may give you clues as to what you shouldn’t pronounce, together with faux pasbuffetcoup, and laissez-faire.

Even the dreaded liaison rears its ugly head within the phrases vis-à-vis (pronounced “vee-zah-vee”) and bon appétit (pronounced “baw na-pey-tee”).

I’ll admit that the French “r” and nasal sounds will in all probability take some observe and getting used to. Nevertheless, the perfect recommendation I acquired—from my Lonely Planet phrasebook, nonetheless—was simply to go for probably the most stereotypical French accent I presumably might.

Strive it. It truly works!

Studying French Conjugation Is a Query of Perspective


One of the vital frequent complaints amongst French learners is the seemingly incomprehensibility of verb conjugations. Contemplate the types of the verb manger (that means “to eat”) under:

  • First Particular person Singular: Je mange (“I eat”)
  • Second Particular person Singular: Tu manges (“You eat”)
  • Third Particular person Singular: Il/Elle/On mange (“He/She/One eats”)
  • First Particular person Plural: Nous mangeons (“We eat”)
  • Second Particular person Plural: Vous mangez (“You (pl.) eat”)
  • Third Particular person Plural: Ils/Elles mangent (“They eat”)

Did you survive that along with your sanity intact? Nice! It could seem like lots to wrap your head round, nevertheless it’s truly not, particularly in spoken French.

In reality, the distinction between written and spoken French is so huge that the primary particular person singular, second particular person singular, third particular person singular, and third particular person plural types of the verb manger are pronounced precisely the identical regardless of having written types that seem to range considerably.

Add to that the truth that the third particular person singular On kind is normally used instead of the primary particular person plural, and also you don’t even have to consider altering the pronunciation for almost all of verb types within the current indicative.

The Key to Cease Fearing French Conjugation Teams

The group of verbs that manger belongs to, the –er verbs, is considered one of three, the opposite two being –ir and –re verbs. The –er verbs are fully common, the –ir verbs are principally common, and the –re verbs are principally irregular.

Don’t let the third “irregular” group scare you, although. Not solely does it comprise the smallest of the three teams, it’s additionally thought of to be a “closed-class.” Because of this all new verbs launched into the French language are of the primary two “common” courses.

Thus, new phrases like googlisertextoter, and téléviser take the common types.

Even among the many irregular verbs, you’ll be capable to decide up on patterns that make their conjugations pretty predictable.

Additionally do not forget that, as was the case with the –er verbs, the verb types of the irregular verbs are pronounced principally the identical (although there are some exceptions).

Right here’s How one can Face French Tenses Like a Winner

As for the opposite tenses, anybody who’s realized Spanish can be relieved to search out out that there are fewer tenses in French than in Spanish.

Le Passé Composé

In fashionable French, for instance, probably the most often used past-tense development is the passé composé. This can be a compound tense composed of the verb avoir (that means “to have”) or être (that means “to be”) adopted by the previous participle of the conjugated verb.

Within the passé composé, the primary particular person singular type of manger is J’ai mangé, which accurately interprets to “I’ve eaten,” however additionally it is used to say “I ate.”

Not like English or Spanish, French makes use of the identical tense to specific each ideas. There’s a passé easy, nevertheless it’s an antiquated literary tense that’s seldom utilized in up to date spoken French.


French additionally makes use of an imperfect tense: the imparfait.

L’imparfait has just one set of endings (in contrast to Spanish), comprises just one exception (être, that means “to be”), and is utilized in precisely the identical method because the Spanish imperfect.

With the intention to kind the imparfait, take the current indicative Nous type of a verb, slice off the conjugated ending, add the imparfait ending, and voilà! You’re in enterprise.

Le Futur Proche

There’s the futur proche, which can be extraordinarily acquainted to audio system of English and Spanish. It merely combines the conjugated type of the verb aller, that means “to go,” with an infinitive.

It’s equal to saying in English, “I’m going to [BLANK].”

Le Futur Easy

There’s additionally a futur easy that, just like the imparfait, makes use of just one set of endings which might be added to the “future stem,” which is normally simply the infinitive or, for the irregular verbs, the infinitive with the ultimate “e” chopped off.

There are about two-dozen irregular future stems, however these irregular stems additionally double because the stems for the conditional.

Le Conditionnel

The conditional is shaped by including the imparfait endings you already know to the longer term stem.

This may all sound complicated, however the primary level is that these verb types and moods are constructed utilizing stuff you already know. The extra you be taught, the extra your data builds on itself.

Is the Dreaded Subjunctive So Essential to Be taught?

Although the subjunctive temper that’s the scourge of Spanish college students in all places exists in French, it’s utilized in each fewer cases and in fewer tenses than it’s in Spanish.

It virtually solely follows que or qui, which is much less typically the case in Spanish. Take, for example, the next phrases in English, Spanish, and French:

English: “If I have been you, I might be pleased.”

Español: Si yo fuera tú, sería feliz.

Français: Si j’étais toi, je serais heureux.

Check out the 2 verbs in daring for a second.

Whereas the Spanish model makes use of the imperfect subjunctive, the French phrase makes use of the imperfect indicative (commonplace previous tense use of the phrase, like English) to specific the very same thought.

In French, the imperfect subjunctive is a stodgy literary tense that no one even makes use of anymore!

Simply Go SPEAK FRENCHToutestpossible

There are, after all, loads of quirks and exceptions within the French language, as there are in any language, however the important thing, as at all times, is simply to exit and SPEAK IT! Like Benny Lewis says, French is straightforward! Each talking and understanding are inside your grasp.

As a language nerd, I’m a giant fan of Benny, whose “Converse from Day One” strategy must be, I believe, language-learning gospel. He’s written a number of posts about why studying CzechTurkishGermanMandarin Chinese languageHungarian, and different languages will not be as exhausting as you suppose.

His level is that with the suitable perspective and strategy, studying a brand new language—regardless of what detractors may declare—is rarely as troublesome a activity because it’s typically made out to be.

Native audio system received’t be shy about correcting you, and the extra you converse and make changes, the extra pure it is going to grow to be.

There are some nice French on-line programs that may get you talking shortly, and don’t fear in case your pronunciation is somewhat off, or in the event you overlook methods to conjugate such and such verb, or in the event you overlook which preposition to make use of.

Simply keep in mind: everybody begins off talking any language they be taught like a child.

Unique article by Zack Simon, up to date by the Fluent in 3 Months crew.

Why Learning French isn't hard
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