Differences Between French and English

Introduction to some of the key differences between French and English

French and English are related languages in a sense, because French is a Latin language with German and English influence, while English is a Germanic language with Latin and French influence. Thus there are some similarities between them, most notably the same alphabet and a number of true cognates. Perhaps more importantly, however, there are a number of differences, both major and minor, between French and English.

Here are some brief explanations with links to further information.

Comparison of characteristics
accentsin many wordsonly in foreign words
articlesmore commonless common
capitalizationless commonmore common
conjugationsdifferent for each grammatical person
different only for third person singular
contractionsrequiredoptional and informal
genderfor all nouns and most pronouns
only for personal pronouns
negationtwo wordsone word
prepositionscertain verbs require prepositions
many phrasal verbs
rhythmstress at end of each rhythmic groupstressed syllable in each word, plus stress on important word
Roman numeralsmore common, often ordinal  
less common, rarely ordinal
subjunctivecommonextremely rare
Other differences between French and English
false cognatesWords that look alike don't necessarily mean the same thing.
pronunciationMany differences, particularly vowels and the letter R.
punctuationDifferent uses and spacing.
silent lettersMany in both, but not the same letters.
singulars and plurals
The grammatical number of nouns may be different.
spelling equivalents Patterns in spelling differ in the two languages.
word orderAdjectives, adverbs, negation, + pronouns may cause problems.