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French (français)

French is a Romance language spoken by about 354 million people. It is the third most spoken language in Europe, after German and English, and is also spoken in parts of Africa, North America, South America, Asia and Oceania.

French at a glance

  • Native name: français [fʁ̥ɒ̃sɛ]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Western Romance, Gallo-Romance, Oïl
  • Number of speakers: c. 354 million
  • Spoken in: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and many other countries
  • First written: 842 AD
  • Writing system: Latin script
  • Status: official language in France, and also in Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo, and Vanuatu

French is an official language in Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo, and Vanuatu.

There are also French speakers in Algeria, Cambodia, Laos, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritius, Mauritania, Tunisia, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Jersey, Martinique, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, and in parts of the USA, particularly Louisiana.

French was widely used as a diplomatic language from the 17th century until the middle of the 20th century, when English replaced it in that role. It is still used in many international organisations, such as NATO, the UN, EU institutions, and the World Trade Organisation.

Written French

French first appeared in writing in 842 AD, when it was used in the Strasbourg Oaths. Before then, Latin was the language used for literature throughout Europe. During the 10th and 11th centuries, French appeared in a number of documents and religious writings. However, French literature didn't start to take off until the late 12th / early 13th century. The first great work of French literature was the 'Chanson de Roland' (Song of Roland), which was published in about 1200.

The French alphabet (l'alphabet français)

A a B b C c D d E e F f G g H h I i
[ɑ] [be] [se] [de] [ə] [ɛf] [ʒe] [aʃ] [i]
J j K k L l M m N n O o P p Q q R r
[ʒi] [ka] [ɛl] [ɛm] [ɛn] [o] [pe] [ky] [ɛʀ]
S s T t U u V v W w X x Y y Z z  
[ɛs] [te] [y] [ve] [dubləve] [iks] [igʀɛk] [zɛd]  

A recording of the French alphabet by Pascal Couteau

French pronunciation

French pronunciation


Canadian French

Here are some of the differences in the pronunciation of Canadian French.

Sample text

Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et égaux en dignité et en droits. Ils sont doués de raison et de conscience et doivent agir les uns envers les autres dans un esprit de fraternité

Hear a recording of this text by Jean-Marie Cletz from France

Hear a recording of this text by Xavier G. from Canada



All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample videos in French

Information about French | Phrases | Numbers | Family words | Terms of endearment | Idioms | Colours | Telling the time | Weather words | Tongue twisters | Tower of Babel | Articles | Links | French learning materials

- Learn French online with Mondly
- Learn French with FrenchPod101
- Learn French with Glossika
- French Uncovered - Learn French Through the Power of Story - Grammar Hero French - Internalise French Grammar
- French Conversations - Understand real French
- Learn French with Rocket French
- French learning software
- Learn French with LinguaLift
- Frantastique: French learning Online
- Learn French with Comme une Française

Find French Tutors


Information about the French language

French lessons online with Frantastique - Free trial

Online French lessons
http://www.frenchspanishonline.com http://polymath.org/french.php

Find French Tutors, Teachers and Lesson Help

Cours de français Orthographe & Expression écrite
Frantastique propose des cours de français personnalisés : orthographe, grammaire, conjugaison, syntaxe et expression écrite.

Learn French - Complete Course from Beginner's to Advanced levels

Apprendre l'anglais, l'espagnol, le français

Learn French grammar through interactive lessons/exercises

French Electronic talking dictionaries

More French-related links

Romance languages

Aragonese, Aranese, Aromanian, Asturian, Catalan, Corsican, Dalmatian, Emilian-Romagnol, Extremaduran, Fala, Franco-Provençal, French, Friulian, Galician, Gallo, Genoese, Guernésiais, Istriot, Italian, Jèrriais, Ladino, Ladin, Lombard, Megleno-Romanian, Mirandese, Moldovan, Monégasque, Mozarabic, Neapolitan, Occitan, Picard, Piedmontese, Portuguese, Romanian, Romansh, Sardinian, Sicilian, Spanish, Venetian, Walloon

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.

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