Easy French Lesson 2: Cognates

Easy French Lesson 2 Cognates:

Cognates are foreign words similar to English words.


What if you discovered you could read French, even if you never had a lesson? You can read some French—but probably don’t realize it.

The following simple French sentences contain enough words similar to English to make the rest of the unfamiliar foreign words in the sentence easy for you to understand.

EASY FRENCH: Mon nom est Paul. J’ai réservé un appartement. Je suis allergique à la pénicilline. Informez ma famille. Où sont des toilettes accessibles aux handicapés?

So you can read some French, even if you never had a lesson! This may be an amazing revelation for you.

It dramatically demonstrates the advantages of this Easy French.

It also reveals the deceptive power of French words similar to English—which if seen separately at first glance can seem simplistic and somewhat obvious, because their English relatives are already so well known to you.


You will be able to read and understand the following story in French because of the many words that look like English. It will be clear to you even though written in a foreign language. You will understand the meanings of the main words similar to English, so you will be able to figure out the meanings of the other short unfamiliar French words.

(The only hint you need is that Je or J' means "I".)

The English version of the story is printed below each line, to make your beginning in French as painless as possible. So it is a Dual Language story, with parallel texts in each language.

The French version is placed first to encourage you to look for and recognize foreign words similar to ones in English -- and deduce what the foreign words mean by yourself without being given the translation first.

EASIEST TIP: Try to read the French version all the way through without looking at the English version. It's easy.


Le Rendez-Vous à Paris

The Rendezvous at Paris


J'arrive à Paris en train.

I arrive at Paris on the train.


Je continue en taxi.

I continue in a taxi.


Je continue le long du grand boulevard jusqu'à ma destination.

I continue along the grand boulevard to my destination.


J'arrive au restaurant pour le rendez-vous.

I arrive at the restaurant for the rendezvous.


Je dîne avec mes parents et mes cousins.

I dine with my parents and my cousins.


Je converse avec mes parents à table.

I converse with my parents at the table.


J'amuse mon cousin.

I amuse my cousin.


Ah! J'adore le champagne. "Super!"

Ah! I adore the champagne. "Super!"


J'adore le dessert aussi.

I adore dessert also.


"Non! Je refuse!"

"No! I refuse!"


La police arrive au restaurant.

The police arrive at the restaurant.


Je tremble devant le danger.

I tremble during the danger.


You will be pleasantly surprised to discover that in France you would be able to read and understand the gist of some simple French sentences—thanks to the French words similar to English.

So you might feel encouraged to learn more.


Many French words are similar to English.

While you learned English you also learned French.

Since you spent years studying English, that means you also have been learning some French for years without realizing it.

Find out how much you already know about French just because you know English.

Are you aware that you already know much French? You may not realize you've been reading and speaking some French for years.

In English many obviously French words and expressions are in common use for French foods etc.

Also French and English have thousands of other shared words called cognates which are identical or similar, in their written form at least.

More than 20,000 words in English are related to French (25% of the 80,000 words in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary).

Many are identical in spelling in both languages. In many cases, the only difference is the pronunciation. Some have only minor changes in spelling, and are easy to recognize.


There are the many similarities between the two languages you are probably unaware of. Here is a list of what you will discover in these lessons that you already know about French from English:

1. 3,000 words are spelled exactly or nearly like English words that mean something similar are called cognates.

2. Other French words are more loosely related to English words—but related enough to help you remember the French word.

3. All these words similar in both languages will enable you to read a little French.


Easy French reveals that you already know something about 3,000 French words related to English, and that 1,000 of them are Travel Words.

Since eight hundred words account for eighty percent of daily communication in every language, Easy French will give you a great head start on key French words you will need.

Since so many French words resemble English, it makes sense to take advantage of your entire lifetime experience with those similar words.

The more words you know in English, the more you can benefit from this approach.

You have spent years with these English words that resemble French words. You know how to pronounce them, their meanings, how to use them in conversation, all without thinking about them consciously. You think a thought and these words spring to mind. So will their French relatives, perhaps just a little more slowly.


Easy French uses a gradual approach in showing you the similarities between French and English.

This progressive approach first presents words spelled exactly alike in French and English.

Then it moves gradually in steps to words that are somewhat less alike. So next come words spelled the same but with accent marks.

Then it progresses to French words spelled slightly different than their English relatives. These French spellings are variations on familiar English words, which make learning these new spellings much easier for you.

So only gradually are you introduced to obstacles which must be overcome in learning French.


Easy French reveals that reading this foreign language is easy. English and French share many words that look similar in print, so the easy ability for you to develop is reading French at your own pace.

Reading foreign words in Easy French is much easier than speaking and listening.

Listening is more difficult than reading because the sounds of French differ greatly from English.

Speaking French is even much more difficult than passively reading or listening because you must actively come up with and try to pronounce French words that are different than the words you already know how to say in English.

So reading French words at your own pace is much easier than being forced to keep up when trying to listen to French, or being forced to come up with French words when trying to speak French.

So the first nine lessons of Easy French focus on reading French words that look similar to English words in print.


One of the main goals of this new way is to show you that reading some in Easy French that contains cognates will be the easy skill to learn first because of all the foreign words spelled like English.

The very easy way to begin reading a little French is where a few French words are sprinkled into English sentences—because the French words can be easily understood from the English context.

So Easy French Lessons 2-11 each begin with a letter from France written in English but containing some French words. This starts you reading a few French words in the easy possible way—in a context of familiar English words in English sentences.

The next easy way to begin reading a little French is where simple French sentences contain enough French words similar to English to make the rest of the unfamiliar French words in the sentence easy for you to understand.

By concentrating on cognates in Easy French, you will be able to understand some written French.

Learning to read some French is an important ability to develop, because it will permit you as a tourist in France to get by more easily even if you are unable to speak French, nor able to understand what people say to you in French.


While the emphasis of the first nine lessons is on reading Easy French words, they do include pronunciations for each French word—because seeing any unfamiliar word in print sometimes prompts the urge to try to pronounce it.

Your first reaction to a French word similar to an English one may be to pronounce it as you would in English, but in most cases that’s not the way it is said in French.

A simplified pronunciation guide is included for all the French words similar to English in the first nine lessons—so you will have help if you try to pronounce these cognates, so you avoid mispronouncing any Easy French words, and get French pronunciations right from the start.

While the emphasis of the first nine lessons is on reading Easy French words, Easy French Pronunciations are in Lesson 10—where French pronunciations are made much easier by showing you how much you already know about pronouncing French words from English.


At the start of this lesson the story in French has revealed that you can already understand some French words—the cognates similar to English.

This first story also revealed that you can comprehend enough of these cognates to enable you to deduce the meanings of some of the unfamiliar short words that serve as articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.

So along the way you'll also learn a few new unfamiliar French words just because they connect these look-alike words you already understand. You’ll absorb unfamiliar words, such as le means the, and et means and. But it won't require much concentration or study—you'll just pick up a few new French words as you roll along.

You'll also learn a bit about French grammar along the way, but merely as a side benefit requiring little effort.

For example, you will see that most French adjectives come after nouns instead of before them as in English.

The adjectives in Easy French look similar to English ones, which will make it easier for you to concentrate on the different word order of French.

(You may have seen some French adjectives in English that are placed after the nouns they modify, which may be done to retain the French flavor. For example: a battle royal; an explorer extraordinaire. Reversed order is also seen in a few traditional terms: Courts-Martial, Attorney General, and heir apparent.)


French isn’t the only language that has words similar to English—called Cognates.

Humor of German Cognates is adapted from ‘Easy, Tiger’, a humorous article by David Sedaris from the New Yorker magazine of July 11, 2011.

I’ve add a second audio program, one by a man named Michel Thomas, who works with a couple of students, a male and a female.

At the start, he explains that English and German are closely related and thus have a lot in common.

In one language, the verb is “to come”, and in the other it’s “kommen”.

English “to give” is German “geben”.

Boston’s “That is good” is Berlin’s “Das ist gut”.

It’s an excellent way to start, and leaves the listener thinking,

‘Hey, Ich kann do dis.’



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