Easy French Lesson 5: Spelled Like English

Easy French Lesson 5 Spelled Like English

In French the easiest words for English speakers are French words spelled like English.

In Lessons Three and Four, we have seen the very easiest words spelled alike in both languages. Lesson Three had familiar English words in French. Lesson Four had the less-familiar French words in English.

Also, many other French words spelled like English have been borrowed from other languages by both French and English, some of which are featured in this lesson.


In these Easy French Lessons are letters written by someone taking a first trip to France -- and discovering that many other French words are also spelled like English words.

Read French Words In English Sentences

The following letter in English has a few French words mixed in. This starts you reading a few French words in the easiest way – in a context of familiar English words in English sentences. Reading French words in English sentences is the very easiest way to begin to read some French.

The WORDS IN CAPITAL LETTERS are French words that are spelled like English words.

(Also capitalized are the French articles that precede French nouns, capitalized here to help you realize that these French word spelled like English really are French also.)


Letter about Discovering French Words Spelled Like English

Dear Billy Bob,

Well, here I am in La FRANCE, after dreaming about it for so long.

What surprises me is how many words in French are spelled exactly like English words. I wonder why? Except the French usually stick a "LE" or "LA" or "UN" or some such word in front of these look-alikes. (Or if the look-alike word starts with a vowel, they hook an L' onto the start of it.) Maybe the French do it so we tourists won't get these French look-alike words confused with the look-alike English words.

I'll give you some examples. I picked up the French newspaper Le Monde in Paris, and was amazed to see so many English-looking words in it. One article had so many that I could almost read it -- even though, as you know, I never studied French before. It was UN SURPRISE to me.

The newspaper article, as far as I could make out from the look-alike words, was about SIX thieves who escaped from LA PRISON. The ringleader apparently was UN CHAUFFEUR with an UN ACCENT who smokes LA PIPE. They stole an UN AMBULANCE from LE GARAGE, then stole some ART RARE AND FRAGILE worth UN MILLION from some PRINCE.

Then the thieves went in DIRECTIONS DIFFÉRENT. LE CHAUFFEUR with L'ACCENT was spotted having UNE CONVERSATION in UN BAR with a CHIC BLONDE girl wearing UN BRACELET and smoking UNE CIGARETTE. They were also spotted when they stopped for gasoline at UN STATION SERVICE, and at UN CONCERT and UN FILM, and reportedly they played LE GOLF and LE TENNIS.

LA POLICE had UNE PHOTO of a POSSIBLE suspect, and asked him some QUESTIONS. Then the POLICE got UN MESSAGE URGENT to go to LE PORT in UN VILLAGE. There had been an ACCIDENT TERRIBLE, TRES HORRIBLE, involving L'AMBULANCE.

The last part of the article I couldn't quite understand. Apparently LE CHAUFFEUR hid in LE ZOO, and was chased by UN LION up onto LE MONUMENT IMMENSE with LA STATUE and LA SCULPTURE of UN PIANO MINIATURE, where he got UN SURPRISE from UN PIGEON, and then signed his SIGNATURE as LE SOUVENIR. Very BIZARRE and REGRETTABLE.

AU REVOIR, MON CHER. All my love, Candy


As explained in Lesson One, many words look exactly alike in both languages, because many French words were adopted into English after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. However, most of these words that were adopted long ago are now pronounced differently in each language.

Since you will always recognize the French words spelled exactly like English, only some are listed in this chapter to keep it short.

When merely listed, familiarity with these identical look-alikes from experience with them in English can make it harder to grasp that these are French words.


The greatest number of words that look alike in French and English are nouns. The following list of nouns are spelled exactly alike in both languages, although most are pronounced differently in French than English.

To help you appreciate that these are indeed French words, the nouns are listed with the article which often precedes them: le or la or les, all of which mean the.


French Spelled Like English are some of the easiest words in French for English speakers.

Here is a selection of just some of the many French words spelled like English.

French words spelled like English may have some of the same meanings in both languages, or may have some slightly different but related meanings.

Some of the many French words spelled like English are recently borrowed from English, like 'internet'.

Some have been borrowed by English from French, like 'ballet'.

Some have been borrowed from other languages by both English and French, like 'opera' borrowed from Italian.

Some French words are spelled like English but have an accent mark over a letter in French, like 'âge', and sometimes in English, like 'café' and ‘fiancée’.

The French words below are followed by their pronunciations to help you realize that these foreign words spelled exactly like English are really French words.

Some French words are pronounced like English, and in the following pronunciation guide the French words pronounced like English are enclosed in single quotation marks, as in: bar [‘bar’].

To keep French pronunciation easiest, French words are shown to have a similar pronunciation to English if the stress is on the same syllable, and the letters are pronounced enough alike that French people will probably understand what you mean if you pronounce those words as you do in English. You may merely sound like you have an ‘English accent’ in French.

Later you can listen to how French people pronounce them, and try to mimic any small differences in pronunciation to make them sound more authentically French. For example, the letter –i- in French is always pronounced ‘-ee-’ [whereas in English it is often pronounced ‘-ih-’]

In French all syllables are pronounced with almost equal stress, but with slightly more stress on the final syllable in most words (but not all words). With these French words spelled like English, it is important to avoid putting stress on whatever syllable you usually would stress in English. So in the French pronunciation guide, the syllable to stress slightly is in capitals.




accessible -- [ahk-seh-SEE-bluh]

accident -- [ahk-see-DAWNG]

acupuncture -- [ah-kew-pokngk-TEWR]

adorable -- adorable -- [ah-doh-RAH-bluh]

agent -- [aw-ZHAHNG]

altitude -- [ahl-tee-TOOD]

arrogant -- [ah-roh-GAHNG]

article -- [ahr-tee-KLUH]

audio -- [oh-dee-YOH]

baby-sitter -- [bah-bee-see-TUHR]

baggage -- [bah-GAHZH]

bar -- [‘bar’]

barette -- [‘barette’]

bikini -- [bee-kee-NEE]

bracelet -- [brahs-LAY]

buffet -- [‘buffet’]

bureau -- [boo-ROH]

bus -- [bews]

cabaret -- [‘cabaret’]

camping -- [kawng-PEENG]

carafe -- [‘carafe’]

cascade -- [kahs-KAHD]

casino -- [kah-zee-NOH]

centre (Br) -- [SAWNG-truh]

chef -- [‘chef’]

chocolate -- [shoh-koh-LAH]

cigarette -- [‘cigarette’]

club -- [‘club’]

cocktail -- [‘cocktail’]

code -- [‘code’]

commence -- [koh-MAWNGS]

commercial -- [koh-mehr-see-YAHL]

compatible -- [kohng-pat-TEE-bluh]

compliments -- [kohng-plee-MAWNG ]

concert -- [kohng-SEHR]

contact -- [kohng-TAHKT]

courts -- [koor]

cousin (m) -- [koo-ZEHNG]

danger -- [dawng-ZHAY]

dessert -- [day-SEHR]

distance -- [dee-STAWNGS]

dollar -- [doh-LAHR]

escalator -- [ehs-kah-lah-TOHR]

euro -- [uh-ROH]

excellent -- [ehk-seh-LAHNG]

fax -- [‘fax’]

ferry -- [fay-REE]

film -- [feelm]

format -- [fohr-MAH]

fruit -- [frwee]

future -- [foo-TEWR]

garage -- [‘garage’]

gay -- [‘gay’]

gluten -- [glew-TAWNG]

golf -- [‘golf’]

grand-parents -- [grawng-pah-RAWNG]

guide -- [geed]

innocent -- [ee-noh-SAWNG]

internet -- [ehng-tehr-NEHT]

iTunes -- [ee-TOON]

jazz -- [zhahz]

judo -- [zhoo-doh]

juice -- [zhew]

kitchenette -- [kee-shee-NEHT]

Kleenex® (tissues) -- [‘Kleenex’]

large -- [lahrzh]

lactose -- [lahk-TOHZ]

long -- [‘long’]

Mac (MacIntosh computer) -- [mahk]

machine -- [‘machine’]

magazine -- [‘magazine’]

mascara -- [‘mascara’]

massage -- [‘massage’]

match (game) -- [‘match’]

mayonnaise -- [mah-yohng-NEHZ]

menu -- [muh-NEW]

message -- [meh-SAHZH]

minute -- [mee-NOOT]

monument -- [mohng-oo-MAWNGT]

match (game) -- [‘match’]

moustache -- [‘moustache’]

niece -- [nee-YEHS]

occupants -- [oh-koo-PAWNG]

office -- [oh-FEES]

Oh -- [‘oh’]

par -- [‘par’]

parachute -- [‘parachute’]

parasol -- [‘parasol’]

Pardon (sorry) -- [pahr-DOHNG]

parents -- [pah-RAWNG]

parking -- [‘parking’]

petite -- [‘petite’]

photos -- [‘photo’]

pizza -- [‘pizza’]

pizzeria -- [‘pizzeria’]

plan -- [plawng]

plus -- [ploo]

point -- [pwehng]

pop (music) -- [‘pop’]

possible -- [poh-SEE-bluh]

premier -- [pruh-mee-YAY]

promenade -- [‘promenade’]

prudent -- [proo-DAWNG]

public -- [poo-BLEEK]

pudding -- [POU-dinng]

radio -- [rah-dee-OH]

rap (music) -- [rahp]

reggae -- [‘reggae’]

restaurant -- [reh-stoh-RAWNG]

sandwich -- [sahnd-WEESH]

satellite -- [sah-tuh-LEET]

sauce -- [‘sauce’]

sauna -- [soh-NAH]

score -- [‘score’]

senior -- [say-NYOHR]

service -- [sehr-VEES]

sexy -- [‘sexy’]

six -- [sees]

ski -- [‘ski’]

slow (dance) -- [‘slow’]

snowboard -- [‘snowboard’]

soda -- [‘soda’]

souvenir -- [‘souvenir’]

spa -- [‘spa’]

sport -- [spohr]

steaks -- [‘steak’]

styles -- [steel]

suites -- [‘suite’]

surgeon -- [soor-ZHOHNG]

synagogue -- [see-nah-GOHG]

table -- [TAH-bluh]

tampons -- [tawng-POHNG]

taxi -- [tahk-SEE]

tennis -- [tay-NEES]

terminal -- [tehr-mee-NAHL]

terrain -- [teh-REHNG]

terrible -- [teh-REE-bluh]

traces -- [trahs]

train -- [trehng]

T-shirt -- [‘T-shirt’]

type -- [teep]

urgent -- [ewr-ZHAWNG]

vaginal -- [vah-zhee-NAHL]

valise -- [vah-LEEZ]

voyage -- [vwah-YAHZH]

week-end -- [‘weekend’]

Wi-Fi -- [wee-FEE]

yoga -- [‘yoga’]

zoo -- [zoh]


Capitalized in English But Not in French

april -- April -- [ah-PREEL]


Nouns Ending -ION Spelled the Same in English and French

Over 1,200 nouns ending -ION in French are spelled the same as in English.


champion -- [shahng-PYOHNG]

destination -- [deh-stee-nah-see-YOHNG]

direction -- [dee-rayk-see-YOHNG]

excursion -- [ehk-skewr-see-YOHNG]

identification -- [ee-dehn-tee-fee-kah-see-YOHNG]

infection -- [ehng-fehk-see-YOHNG]

intersection -- [ehng-tehr-sehk-see-YOHN]

lotion -- [loh-see-YOHNG]

navigation -- [nah-veh-gah-see-YOHNG]

observation -- [ohb-sehr-vah-see-YOHNG]

portion -- [pohr-see-YOHN]

position -- [poh-zee-see-YOHNG]

profession -- [proh-fehs-see-YOHNG]

section -- [sehk-see-YOHN]

solution -- [soh-lew-see-YOHNG]

station -- [stah-see-YOHN]

version -- [vehr-see-YOHNG]



bed and breakfast -- [‘bed and’ brayk-FAHST]

chewing gum -- [shew-weeng ‘gum’]

cyber café (internet) -- [see-BEHR ‘cafe’]

hot dog -- [oht dohg]

jet ski -- [zheht ‘ski’]



In France you will see some signs on businesses that look very familiar, with French words spelled like English:


BAR -- BAR -- ["bar"]

BUS -- BUS -- [boos]

CAMPING -- CAMPING -- [‘camping’]

GARAGE (repairs) -- GARAGE -- ["garage"]


INTERNET -- INTERNET -- [‘internet’]

MENU -- MENU -- [muh-NEW]

POLICE -- POLICE -- [‘police’]


STOP -- STOP -- [‘stop’]

WI-FI -- WI-FI -- [wee-FEE]


As mentioned at the start of this lesson, familiarity with these identical look-alikes from experience with them in English can make it harder to grasp that these are French words, especially when they are merely listed.

More sample sentences in French are included, so you can see these look-alikes in a French context.



You Can Read this Easy French Story:

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, so you will be able to figure out the meanings of the other French words.

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

In this Dual Language story, with parallel texts in each language, each line of French is printed above the English version, to make your beginning French reading as painless as possible.

The foreign 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.

However, try to read the French all the way through without looking at the English version. It's easy.




J'arrive au zoo.

I arrive at the zoo.


Une cage confine les lions.

One cage confined the lions.


Je tremble devant la grandeur du lion.

I tremble at the grandeur of the lion.


Je tremble devant le long serpent.

I tremble at the long serpent.


La parade des éléphants m'amuse.

A parade of elephants amuses me.


J'adore cet animal.

I adore this animal.


Je converse avec une mule.

I converse with a mule.


Throughout the rest of these lessons, French nouns spelled identically to English will usually be preceded by either le, la, l', les, un or une so you don't confuse them with English nouns spelled the same way.

However, with French nouns spelled differently than English ones, those articles will be omitted to simplify this book for you.

Preceding French words in English which retain their original French spelling, meaning, and to a lesser extent pronunciation.

But all the rest of the French-English cognates in these lessons have, over the centuries, diverged in spelling, and/or pronunciation, and/or meaning, or all ways.



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