About French

The French language

French language

If you speak French you will be able to speak with people from all over the world.
French is a world language.
It is an official language in almost 30 countries in four continents.
In Europe it is not only the official language of France but also has official status in Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland and in a region of Northwest Italy.

The historical legacy of France as a colonial power means that to this day there are many countries where French is spoken as a language of commerce, education, government or day to day use. You will encounter French speakers in many African and Asian countries, as well as French Guyana in South America and in the Canadian province of Quebec.
Interestingly there is not a large difference between the French spoken in France and that spoken overseas, in contrast to the English spoken in Britain and the USA or the Spanish spoken in Spain and Latin America.
French is spoken by about 80 million native speakers worldwide as well as another 60 million that use it as their first foreign language.

French is a Romance language

French is a Romance language

French belongs to the Romance group of languages, that are derived from Vulgar Latin.
You will find French a lot easier to learn if you already speak a Romance language, like Spanish, Portuguese or Italian.
You will notice many similarities between the languages.

Even if you do not already speak one of the Romance languages, you will none the less experience great enjoyment and success learning the language with the language courses from 17 Minute Languages.
And of course having learnt French, you then have an excellent basis for learning other Romance languages.

French words in other languages

There are hundreds of words in other languages that originate in French.
Many of them are very obviously of French derivation, for example words like Accessoire, Bourgeoisie, Café, Dekolleté, Eau de Toilette, Fauxpas, Gourmet or Haute Cuisine. Other words however require a second look to recognize their French origins.

French words in other languages

For example, take al closer look at some German words:
Did you know that German words like

  • die Affäre
  • die Armee
  • die Brisanz
  • das Büro
  • der Charakter
  • der Chef
  • die Dame
  • die Distanz
also originate from French?
The number of German words used by French is much smaller but even so there are words in French of German origin.
So for example if you read French newspapers or books you will see words like le berufsverbot, le doppelgänger, la gemütlichkeit, le leitmotiv, la stiefmutter, le waldsterben, la weltanschauung or le zeitgeist.
So now you know a few French words, why not learn a few more?

Useful links for learning French

We are delighted that you are interested in learning French.
We are also delighted to show you a few interesting links:

  1. Wikipedia offers the following article about the French language.
  2. Maybe you want to visit the Institut français?
  3. Would you like to learn how to say “Hello” or "thank you" in French?
    Here you will find the fifty most important words in French.
  4. If you would like to learn the French language, go here for French languages courses from 17 Minute Languages.
    We offer a wide range of learning material for French:
    A1 / A2: French Beginner's Course
    B1 / B2: French Intermediate Course
    C1 / C2: French Proficiency Course