English borrows many words from French


29 December 2017

A few days ago we said we would examine how good your English vocabulary already is, especially if you are French.  Combine the new words you are learning daily with the huge number of words you already know, and you will be taking huge steps in your journey towards fluency.

Cognates are words from two languages that are the same or similar. Because English borrows many words from Latin and French, you as a French speaker simply just need to be made aware of the huge English vocabulary you already know. The easy trick is to learn the following 10 French word endings, which identify the French/English cognates.

Cognate Rule 1

Words that end in –al are usually the same in French. However, this rule does not apply to words ending in -ical, which follow a different cognate rule.  Examples:

English French
Animal Animal
Central Central
Final Final
Ideal Ideal
International International
Mental Mental
Original Original

 Cognate Rule 2

Words that end in –ance are usually the same in French.  Examples:

English French
Distance Distance
Arrogance Arrogance
Importance Importance
Intolerance Intolerance
Perseverance Persévérance
Substance Substance
Ambulance Ambulance
Finance Finance

Cognate rule 3. Words that end in -ary change to -aire.  Examples:

English French
Anniversary Anniversaire
Dictionary Dictionnaire
Imaginary Imaginaire
Salary Salaire
Vocabulary Vocabulaire

Words ending in -ist change to -iste in French Examples:

English French
Tourist Touriste
Dentist Dentiste
Artist Artiste
Cyclist Cycliste
Pessimist Pessimiste

Cognate Rule 5

Words that end in -ble are usually the same in French.  Examples

English French
Adorable Adorable
Flexible Flexible
Horrible Horrible
Impossible Impossible
Visible Visible

Cognate Rule 6

Nouns ending in -tion generally have the same ending in French  Examples

English French
Information Information
Conversation Conversation
Tradition Tradition
Station Station
Celebration Célébration

Cognate Rule 7

Words that end in -ct are usually the same in French  Examples

English French
Correct Correct
Contact Contact
Respect Respect
Direct Direct
Impact  Impact

Cognate Rule 8  Words that end in -ent are usually the same in French.  Examples

English French
President President
Urgent Urgent
Client Client
Different Different
Monument Monument

 Cognate Rule 9

Words ending in -ical change to -ique,  Examples

English French
Electrical Électrique
Critical Critique
Identical Identique
Practical Pratique
Typical Typique

Cognate Rule 10

Words ending in -ence have the same ending in French.  Examples

English French
Science Science
Violence Violence
Experience Expérience
Intelligence Intelligence
Patience Patience

Wow!  You really do know a lot more than you realise!  Catch you again in a couple of days time.


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