Important French Words to Learn

These 25 common French words are vital terms to know

French can be difficult learn: The grammar is often different than in English, and correct pronunciation is key to mastering this Romance language. But learning basic terms can help. This list contains varied terms such as auparavant  (beforehand), égard (exhausted), and toucher (to touch). You might know this last term by its pronounciation: "too shay," a term anyone who has read the novel ​"The Three Musketeers" or seen a movie with swashbuckling swordfights will readily recognize.

The Top 25

Each French term on this list is followed its pronunciation in parentheses, and then its definition. Some of the words provide links to web pages that provide ​more complete explanations, background information, and even tips on how to conjugate the words where appropriate.

Word

Pronunciation

Definition

auparavant 

o pa ra van

Beforehand, previously

bis 

bees

a musical encore at the end of a concert; detour or diversion

bouffer

boo fay

to be full; have volume

chouette

shweht

owl; great, nice or cool

coucou

koo koo

(exclamation) hello, hi, peek-a-boo; cuckoo (clock)

doué

doo wee

gifted

égard

e gar

respect

génial

zhay nyal

genius, inspired; great, cool

incontournable

a(n)-ko(n)-toor-nabl

inescapable, inevitable, or indispensable

intéressant

eh(n) tay ray sa(n)

interesting, attractive, worthwhile

justement

ʒystəmɑ̃

exactly

lendemain

la(n)d-ma(n)

the next day, day after; future

maîtriser

meh tree zay

to control, overcome, suppress; to master

malin

mah-la(n)

Shrewd, cunning

normal

nor mal

normal

occasion

uh ka zyo(n)

chance, opportunity

piège

pjɛʒ

trap

piger

piʒe

to get it

pinard

pee nar

cheap wine, plonk

projet

pʀɔʒɛ

intention; plan

rater

ra tay

misfire, miss, fail, bungle, miscarry, to mess up

taux

to

rate

toucher

too shay

to touch; to approach, be/go near; to affect

untel

oo(n) tel

so-and-so

vachement

vahsh ma(n)

really