French Vocabulary Lists

Valorie Delp
two people talking
Increasing your vocabulary will help you in conversation.

Looking for French vocabulary lists of commonly used words? LoveToKnow has them along with some great tips on how to memorize vocabulary and perfect your French until you're speaking like a native!

Memorizing French Vocabulary Lists

Truthfully, it's almost fruitless to simply memorize a list. Most people need some type of mnemonic device in addition to seeing the word in context. The best way to learn a foreign language is to learn it like you would your own language. Babies pick up their native language through the context of every day life. Likewise, if you can apply and use the vocabulary in context, you will be much more successful in mastering the language.

Another useful tip to remember is that memorizing verbs and adjectives will typically be more helpful than memorizing many nouns. You can always point to something you don't know how to say, or describe it, but it is more difficult to describe something without verbs and adjectives. The following French vocabulary lists are organized according to subject.

How do You Feel?

Words that Describe How You Feel
English French Pronunciation
I am hot J'ai chaud zhay show
I am cold J'ai froid zhay fwah
I am thirsty J'ai soif zhay swahf
I am hungry J'ai faim zhay feh
I am sleepy J'ai sommeil zhay so may
I am sick Je suis malade zhuh swee mah lahd
I don't feel well Je ne me sens pas bien zhuhn muh sohn paw bee ehn
I'm great Je vais bien zhuh swee bee ehn
I am sad Je suis triste zhuh swee treest
I'm sorry Je suis désolé(e) zhuh swee day so lay
I am angry Je suis fâché(e) zhu swee fah shay
I am embarrassed Je suis embarrassé(e) zhu swee ohm bah rha say
He/she is nice Il/elle est sympathique el ay sehm pah teek

Descriptions

Remember that in french, the gender of the noun and the adjective must agree. Therefore, you'll see two versions of most words with the feminine version or pronunciation being in parentheses.

Descriptive Adjectives
English French Pronunciation
Big grand(e) grahn(d)
Small/short petit(e) puh tee(t)
Tall grand(e) grahn(d)
Short court(e) coor(t)
Fat gros(sse) groh(s)
Thin (a person) maigre maigrhuh
Young jeune zhun
Old vieux(vieille) vee uh(vee ayeh)
Pretty (cute) jolie zho lee
Beautiful beau (belle) bo (bell)
Ugly laid(e) leh (d)
Nice (a person) sympathique* sahm pah teek
Mean(as in a person) méchant(e) may shohn
Smart intelligent(e) ehn tell ee zhehn(t)
Dumb idiot(e) ee dee oh (oht)

Notes

  • Petit is used for both something that is little and a person who is short. However, court is used to describe other things as short such as a period of time or hair length.
  • While sympathique is the typical word used to describe someone as nice, you can also use the words gentil (-le) and aimable.

How's the Weather?

Most expressions that describe weather use the irregular verb faire + adjective. However, when you are saying you are hot, cold, etc., you always use the verb avoir. For

Expressions About the Weather
English French Pronunciation
It's cold Il fait froid eel fay fwah
It's raining Il pleut eel pleuh
rain (noun) la pluie lah ploo ee
It's snowing Il neige eel nezh
the snow la neige lah nezh
It's hot Il fait chaud eel fay sho
summer l'été (masculine) lay tay
autumn l'automne (masculine) lah tumm
winter l'hiver (masculine) lee vair
spring le printemps luh prehn tehm

Colors

Here is a list of basic colors.

Colors
English French Pronunciation
red rouge rooghe
pink rose rhose
black noir(e) nwahr
white blanc (-he) blohn (-sh)
orange orange oh rahnzhe
green vert (-e) vair (t)
yellow jaune zhone
blue bleu(e) bluh
purple violet(te) vee oh lay

Tips for Memorizing Vocabulary

While having great lists to learn new vocabulary is helpful the best way to memorize it is to attach it to something you already know. Try these quick tips for studying:

  • Many words are similar in both English and French. Memorizing these should be a snap.
  • Does the word look or sound like anything familiar to you? For example, the word for nice in French looks like the word sympathetic in English. While the meanings are different--they are similar enough that you can make an association. (Someone who is sympathetic, is generally nice as well.) Likewise, attaching the words to something you know should make it easier.
  • Attach a mental picture to the word you're memorizing. Memorize the colors by writing them out on cards with the same color ink. Think about pictures that might make you think of the word.
  • Practice, practice, practice. If you took the time to make up one sentence for each word--you would have no problem memorizing the words at all.

More Resources

There are many online resources for French vocabulary, including:

  • Lingoplex: Lists French vocabulary for common verbs, clothing, household items, public places, and jobs and professions.
  • French Linguistics: Includes vocabulary lists of common nouns, verbs, adjectives, objects, greetings, and more in French.
  • French Teacher: French vocab on family, body parts, animals, and education.
  • Language Guide.org French Picture Vocab: Learn from a pictorial vocab list French words from over seven different groupings, including household, human body, objects, food, and place names.
French Vocabulary Lists