200 True French Cognates (Vrais Amis) to Boost Your French Vocabulary
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200 True French Cognates (Vrais Amis) to Boost Your French Vocabulary

200 True French Cognates TW

If English is your first language, chances are you’ve been using French your entire life. And we’re not talking about common phrases such as déjà vu and au revoir – we’re referring to actual words in both languages with the same spelling and meaning!

There are approximately 1,700 French cognates, many of which are identical to their English counterparts. We’ve put together a list of the 200 most common true French Cognates called Vrais Amis.

Brief History of French and English

So how did English and French come to share so many of the same words and even language concepts? The history of the two languages dates back to 1066 with an invasion into England.

William the Conqueror invaded England, known as the Norman conquest. Many traditions came along with them, including the French language. French became an official language for education, politics, and administration.

The joint Anglo-Norman language remained prominently used even after the era of the Norman presence in England.

Fast-forward many centuries to today, and the French language introduced back then transitioned into common words in Modern English.

How French Cognates Help You Learn French

It’s common to feel overwhelmed when starting to learn a new language – French is no exception. French has its own words, pronunciations, usage, sentence structures, grammar, and more than differentiate it from other languages.

Studying French Cognates helps ease the culture shock of the new language. Did you know that 30% of all the words in English are derived from French? And with a massive list of cognates, you’ll discover that you already have a substantial French vocabulary even before starting your first lesson.

You may even notice some patterns of the common words to give insight to other word origins and pronunciations as you expand your French vocabulary.

For example, many of the French cognates share the following endings:

  • -tion/-sion
  • -able
  • -ent
  •  -ence
  • -al
  •  -age
  •  -ible
  •  -ure
  •  -um

Keep these in mind when going through our French cognate list.

Types of French cognates

Before we get into the list, let’s first take a look at the different types of French cognates.

True cognates – Vrais Amis

 The truest form of French Cognate is called Vrais Amis, or “true friends.” These words share identical spellings and meanings in both English and French.

The only difference for true cognates is the French pronunciation. Some of the words may include an accent. True cognates make it easy to read and understand French, but it may take some practice to say the words aloud like a native French-speaker.

Our list contains only True French cognates – Vrais Amis.

Semi-true cognates

Semi-true cognates may be a bit tricky compared to true cognates. Semi-true cognates are spelled almost the same in both languages but might have a slightly different meaning.

One of the most common example is pork (en) vs. porc (fr). In English, pork refers to the meat of a pig, but in French, “porc” can also translate to pig. Since it’s a French cognate, you’ll have a general understanding of what the word is referring to, but be careful about how you use them in the French context.

False cognates – Faux Amis

You can’t have vrais amis without faux amis, or false cognates. These words have similar spellings in English and French, but very different meanings.

For example, grape (en) vs. grappe (fr). Grape refers to the fruit, while grappe translates to “bunch,” such as having a bunch of grapes. You can use grappe when talking about a bunch of anything, so it has nothing to do with grapes or even food.

List of True French cognates – Vrais Amis

See below for a list of 200 of the most common true French cognates. We focused strictly on words that have the exact same meaning and spelling. 

*There are lots of other cognates that have slightly different spellings but were excluded from the list.

Abandon
Abdomen
Abolition
Abominable
Absence
Absent
Absorption
Abstinence
Abstraction
Accent
Accessible
Accident
Active
Adaptation
Addition
Adjacent
Administration
Admirable
Admiration
Admission
Adoption
Agent
Agile
Agriculture
Air
Amusement
Anaconda
Animal
Arrogant
Association
Attention
Automobile
Banjo
Blouse
Boots
Brutal
Cable
Café
Caméra
Canyon
Catastrophe
Cause
Concert
Condition
Confetti
Confusion
Constellation
Construction
Continent
Contribution
Correct
Cousin
Coyote
Crocodile
Crocodile
Danger
Digital
Direction
Distance
Dollar
Donation
Double
Dragon
Duel
Dynamite
Décoration
Effective
Éléphant
Empire
Exclamation
Exemption
Exhibition
Expiration
Explosion
Expérience
Extra
Favorable
Festive
Flexible
Flexible
Fragile
Fruit
Gallon
Ghetto
Golf
Guide
Hôtel
Identification
Immigrant
Immigration
Impact
Impossible
Impression
Incurable
Indicative
Influence
Information
Infrastructure
Inspection
Instruction
Intelligence
Intention
Interlude
Interview
Intimidation
Introduction
Invitation
Jeans
Journal
Jungle
Juvénile
Leader
Lion
Long
Léopard
Machine
Maintenance
Manifestation
Marina
Maximum
Mention
Microscope
Migration
Million
Miniature
Minute
Mobile
Moment
Monument
Moral
Music
Métal
Normal
Notable
Notable
Notice
Néctar
Obligation
Obsession
Occasion
Océan
Office
Opinion
Opération
Original
Part
Passion
Patience
Persuasion
Piano
Pirate
Plan
Police
Possible
Potion
Profit
Question
Racial
Radio
Ratio
Religion
Reptile
Respect
Restaurant
Robot
Route
Réunion
Satellite
Secret
Secret
Serpent
Session
Silhouette
Simple
Situation
Ski
Social
Sofa
Solo
Support
Surprise
Taxi
Terrible
Train
Trampoline
Transport
Trillion
Triple
Tube
Télescope
Téléphone
Télévision
Vacant
Valve
Version
Visible
Vocal
Yacht
Zoo
Zoom

Now that you have a great list to kick off your French vocabulary, let us know in the comments below which words you’re most surprised about.

About the Author Bryan Shelmon

Bryan Shelmon is a travel writer, living the digital nomad lifestyle as of the past few years to immerse himself into the travel industry. Bryan has traveled to regions including the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Southeast Asia. While traveling, he enjoys attending local cultural events and working on creative projects. Bryan continues to grow as a writer, achieving a #1 Best Selling travel culture guide on Amazon and exploring new regions of the world.