Learn French
Learn French online with lessons for beginners that help you stay the course learning French grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
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How to Learn French

French has a reputation as the language of love , but there are many other reasons to fall in love with French. It’s the sixth most widely spoken language in the world and the only other language besides English spoken on all five continents . With over 220 million speakers , French is regarded as a language that is useful not only for cuisine, fashion, and travel but also in a competitive, international job market where France has the fifth largest economy.

How you approach learning French depends on your objectives. Some language learners are just beginning their journey by picking up common words and phrases and trying to replicate the infamous French accent. Other language learners may be coming back to French after some exposure to the language in the academic world. Whatever your goals are in learning French, you should carefully consider a language learning program built with you in mind.

Rosetta Stone has over twenty-five years of experience in designing language learning programs that build confidence in speaking and understanding French . Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate French speaker looking to brush up on basics or advance your fluency, Rosetta Stone can help. With an immersive approach that focuses on contextualizing learning, Rosetta Stone uses an award-winning mobile app and language learning software to deliver bite-sized lessons that help you learn French anytime and anywhere.

Meet Grace and learn about her language learning journey. Like Grace, millions of lives have changed with Rosetta Stone and yours can too.

French Language Learning

When you begin to learn French, it may be tempting to wade into memorizing massive vocabulary lists but this isn’t a very effective (or fun) way to learn French. Instead of focusing on cramming as many French words as you can, learn just a few of the most commonly used words or phrases and dial into perfecting your French pronunciation instead. After all, the goal of language learning is not vocabulary acquisition. It’s having the confidence to have and understand conversations with native French speakers.

There are some commonly used French words and conversational phrases that make up the backbone of the language and learning these will give you a solid foundation. And it’s not just the greetings like Bonjour or s’il vous plaît that you might need in everyday situations. It’s also good to learn the words that the French sprinkle throughout their sentences, like quoi, où, qui, quand, pourquoi, and comment. These words are similar to the English version of what, where, who, when, why and how and they’ll frequently appear in conversations.

  • Bonjour = Hello, Good morning
  • Au revoir = Goodbye
  • Oui = Yes
  • Non = No
  • Merci = Thank you
  • Merci beaucoup = Thank you very much
  • Fille = Girl
  • Garçon = Boy
  • Femme = Woman
  • Homme = Man
  • Amour = Love
  • Français = French
  • S’il vous plaît = Please
  • Bonsoir = Good evening
  • Bonne Nuit = Good night
  • Excusez-moi = Excuse me
  • De Rien = You’re welcome (casual, informal way)
  • Je vous en prie = You’re welcome (formal)
  • Temps = Time
  • Jour = Day
  • Monde = World
  • Monsieur = Mister, gentleman
  • Raison = Reason
  • Mademoiselle = Miss, unmarried woman
  • Madame = Married woman, older woman
  • Beau = Handsome
  • Belle = Beautiful
  • Chat = Cat
  • Chien = Dog
  • Fort = Strong

To build towards fluency in French, you should begin your French lessons with the basics of common words and pronunciations and then scale naturally towards a more complex understanding of the language. That’s why Rosetta Stone’s French language learning program has an immersive approach that introduces words alongside visual and audio cues that help you learn vocabulary in the context of real-world conversations. The bite-sized lessons are grouped into units that highlight common French conversational phrases you’ll need for everyday situations, coupled with practical review that helps learners solidify their language skills.

Learning French for Beginners

One of the things the French language is famous for is its je ne sais quoi, an indefinable quality that makes the accent sound alluring , and mysterious. However, what may seem an elusive part of the language’s appeal is just the nuances of French pronunciation. Some of the sounds in French can be tricky because they are decidedly more nasal than other languages, but practice makes perfect. That’s why it’s important to learn French pronunciation first, starting with the sounds in the alphabet.

Watch this video and see how to use bonjour, rebonjour, rebonsoir, and salut.

French Alphabet

While the French alphabet has the same letters as the English alphabet, some of the sounds are pronounced differently. For instance one of the most familiar sounds in French, the letter “e,” is pronounced ‘euh’ and can be found in every corner of French conversations because it’s used in the same way English speakers use the sound “uh” as a pause or connector to another thought. However, unlike English, French provides helpful accent marks to guide your pronunciation. There are five different French accent marks:

  • cédille (Ç)
  • aigu (é)
  • circonflexe (â, ê, î, ô, û)
  • grave (à, è, ù)
  • tréma (ë, ï, ü)

These marks usually indicate that the sound of the letter is irregular, although the circonflexe is only used in French writing and doesn’t alter the pronunciation of the word.

Perfecting your pronunciation is the key to having conversations with confidence in French. Rosetta Stone encourages language learners to begin practicing making French sounds out loud from the very first lesson with a patented speech recognition engine called TruAccent. Embedded in every lesson, TruAccent compares your pronunciation to that of native French speaker and provides feedback, helping you hone in on understanding and being understood in French.

The French have an easy way to ask how you’re doing: “Ça va ?” It literally means, “It’s going?”, and the standard reply might surprise you. Watch this video and learn how to use ça va, très bien, oui, and et toi.

How You Learn French Vocabulary and Grammar

Once you’ve got a feel for French pronunciation and a basic understanding of the language, it’s time to dive into conversational phrases and a few rules that can help you start to make sense of French vocabulary. Rosetta Stone’s approach takes the emphasis off of memorization and places it on learning French in the context of conversations , so language learners can start building towards navigating real-world situations with confidence.

1. Start with common French conversational phrases

Knowing a few scattered words in French and trying to string them together can make for some very awkward conversations. Instead, focus on learning common phrases up front, including often used greetings and questions. Indeed, words like bonjour (good morning) or phrases like je m’appelle (my name is…) are important, but you’ll also find that learning when to use words like enchanté (enchanted or nice to meet you) or Comment allez-vous? instead of Ça va? (both formal and informal ways of saying How are you?) are essential in navigating conversations with native speakers.

2. Practice with a French Phrasebook

Keeping a French phrasebook on hand for quick reference can be a helpful tool not just in advancing your confidence to engage in impromptu conversations, but also to help you practice and study in stolen minutes throughout the day. Rosetta Stone makes this easy for French language learners with quick-access Phrasebook built into the mobile app to help you learn and practice French on-the-go.

3. Take advantage of those French cognates

In your quest to learn common French words and phrases, you’ll have a little help from the fact that many words in French have similar sounding words in English. We call words derived from the same mother tongue cognates , and French and English have the good fortune of sharing quite a few. Words like carafe, finir (to finish), or fiasco are all cognates. Beware however of words that are spelled similarly but pronounced differently. These are semi-true cognates, and they take a little extra finesse in pronunciation to pull off.

4. Focus on French etiquette

There’s a reason the word faux pas, which means misstep, is one we borrow from French. French can be a very formal language, and it’s essential to get your etiquette right the first time or risk offending someone unintentionally. Learning the difference between formal and informal greetings and which ones are the correct phrases to use depending on the situation is especially crucial for French language learners. For instance, there are three separate French greetings you might use to say hello, but the appropriateness of each depends on how well you know the person you are speaking to. Bonjour can be used in most situations, and salut is okay for casual settings, but you should only use coucou with very close friends or family.

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Is French Hard To Learn?

You may have heard that learning French is hard , especially as an adult. While it may be challenging, the truth is that anyone can learn to speak a new language with confidence. Including French. Research suggests that your ability to learn a language is mostly a matter of practice—building confidence through speaking, and contextualizing your learning.

And here’s another bit of good news. When you’re excited to learn a new language, even the hardest ones can seem fun. Because the sense of accomplishment that you’ll get with taking on the challenge, and overcoming it, is invaluable.

Your overall success and speed at which you’ll learn, will largely be dictated by your commitment and the quality of your language learning program. That’s what makes finding a trusted program so important.

Here are some local tips to help you fit right in.

Best Way to Learn French

Once you feel comfortable with common conversational phrases and greetings, it’s time to take your French next level. To be confident speaking the language, you’ll want to also dig into French grammar to get a better understanding of how to structure sentences. The best way to practice French grammar is not to do pen and paper drills or exercises, but to learn how to conjugate verbs and get subject agreement in the context of actual French conversations.

Focus on getting your French verbs to agree

French can be a tricky language in that when you conjugate verbs , they have to agree both in gender and number. French verbs are generally divided into three groups for conjugation: verbs ending in -er, verbs ending in -ir, and verbs ending in -re. Of course, some French verbs are irregular and don’t fit neatly into any of these categories. There are standard rules for conjugation that will apply depending on which group the verb fits into, as well as variations of conjugation depending on the subject and the verb tense.

Don’t worry about learning French verb tenses

French may seem like a moody language, but if you can find comparable examples of these verb tenses in English, it can help you understand how to conjugate without being intimidated. For instance, some language learners find the subjunctive and conditional tenses, or as the French call them “moods,” difficult to master. Subjunctive tense is used to indicate uncertainty and is usually coupled with the expression of an emotion, an opinion or a desire. 

For instance, Je veux que tu le fasses (I want you to do it) is an example of the irregular verb for do (faire) conjugated in the subjective. Conditional mood in French is when something is not guaranteed to happen. For instance, Si j’avais su, je l’aurais fait (If I had known, I would have done it) uses a conditional mood of the verbs to know and to do. These two French moods that determine conjugation are not about when an action happened but about how it happened.

Practice learning French in the present first

Overwhelmed by all the rules? Don’t be. The best way to demystify complex French grammar rules and verb conjugation is to start simple with the present tense. Learn how to form verbs ending in -er in the present tense before branching out into other endings. Then take the next step and tackle irregular verbs before circling back and learning how to adapt verbs in other more complicated tenses. This is why Rosetta Stone structures lessons in small increments, so you can learn a language one bite at a time, practicing previous vocabulary and grammar extensively before moving on to new concepts.

How to Practice Learning French

Learning and studying French is an excellent first step to understanding the language, but at some point, you need to get out there and practice your conversational skills. That’s why any successful language learning program should be combined with practical opportunities to hear and participate in conversations with other French speakers . Modeling and rehearsing real-world situations will help language learners get beyond anxiety about fluency and grow confident enough to speak like a local.

Here are some tips from a native French speaker to help you speak like a local with confidence.

French Language

Here are just a few ways you can immerse yourself in the French language or find the opportunity to practice with a partner.

Learn to write French with a penpal

Get a native French speaker or another French language learner who is willing to exchange letters or emails with you. If you’re nervous about having a real conversation, this is a way to ease into it and practice until you feel prepared. But be warned that written French and spoken French can differ in some important ways.

Immerse yourself in French

French cooking shows, French music, French literature . There are many pleasurable ways to immerse yourself in the French language and culture. Pick something that appeals to you and practice daily. Whether it’s French podcasts in the car on the way to work or making dinner with a recipe for coq au vin in French, immersing yourself in the language can glean not only new vocabulary but also expose you to the accent and nuances of French culture.

Here you will find a French recipe for a traditional Yule Log, or Bûche de Noël, a French dessert best enjoyed on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s, or all three. It will help you immerse yourself in the French culture.

Have online conversations in French

Writing French to a penpal is a more traditional method, but it’s a static and scripted conversation that can feel a bit one-sided. Get beyond letters with online chats that allow you to chat with another language learner and have real, impromptu conversations. Rosetta Stone has an online forum for language learners that can facilitate a connection with other French speakers so you can practice and learn from each other.

Travel to French-speaking countries

Last but not least, sometimes the best way to put into practice your language learning and cement your confidence is to have a practical conversation with a native speaker. You don’t have to start by flying to Paris and striking up a convo on the street. Find a local French club and attend a few meetings or go to a French bistro and practice reading the menu and order in the language. You’ll be building your confidence towards French fluency one conversation and one lesson at a time.

Practice your French pronunciation daily

Practicing a language every day is vital, whether it’s for ten minutes as you wait in line or twenty minutes before you go to bed. However, this should also incorporate daily, verbal practice which gives you a chance to model French pronunciation and get feedback. Rosetta Stone’s speech recognition engine provides precisely this sort of daily practice, embedded in every bite-sized lesson that syncs across devices.

Saying French numbers can get you started on your daily routine. Here are the numbers for 1-10 in French and a video showing you how to say them:

numbers in french language

How Can I Learn French Fast?

The fastest way to learn French is to establish a routine with a language learning program and practice, practice, practice! The phrase “practice makes perfect” is particularly relevant when it comes to learning French and any new language. The most important thing you can do to be successful in learning French is to make practicing and speaking part of your daily routine . This can be achieved by seeking out immersive opportunities in the language you are learning, such as listening to a podcast or watching a TV show with the subtitles off. It’s also beneficial to find opportunities to engage with native speakers if possible.

Delecia studied French in middle school and high school but found herself silent when she visited France the first time. That’s when she turned to Rosetta Stone. Watch this video to learn more about her motivation for keeping French alive in Louisiana.

Learn French With Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone mobile app is the best way to learn French. With a variety of lessons and features, immediate feedback on pronunciation, and a nearly perfect 4.7 rating in the app store, the award-winning Rosetta Stone mobile app is the best way to learn French.

Why should I get Rosetta Stone to learn French?

With us, you’ll get useful content that’s crafted by linguists instead of crowd-sourced. You’ll get an immersive experience that mimics real life, instead of flashcards. And by pushing yourself during the lessons themselves, you’ll get to breathe easy when it comes to actual conversations.

Learning to speak French with confidence

Rosetta Stone will get you speaking French from the very first lesson with a patented speech recognition engine called TruAccent®. By comparing your voice to thousands of native speakers, TruAccent gives you real-time feedback and enables you to fine-tune your accent and gets you speaking confidently in the real world. With enough practice, you may one day have the thrilling experience of being mistaken for a local.

How Rosetta Stone works?

This video shows How Rosetta Stone works:

Try Our Award-Winning App

Surround yourself with French whenever, wherever with the Rosetta Stone app .

Download a unit and knock it out on the train or a flight. Select a 5-10 minute lesson and sneak it in while you wait in line or for your ride to show up. And explore dynamic features, like Seek and Speak, where you can point at an object in the real world and get a translation .

The best part? You don’t have to choose between app or desktop. Both come with your subscription and sync, so you can switch between devices seamlessly.

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I've been using Rosetta Stone for years to gain basic competency in multiple languages including German, French, Italian, and recently Chinese and Russian. Starts with the very basics teaching basic vocabulary and grammar without any memorization. I've even impressed some locals in my travels with pronunciation and fluency. This is an excellent place to start if interested in starting to learn a new language or brushing up on one learned years ago.

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I am trying out Rosetta Stone, to see if it will help out with the correct grammar and conversation (as well as learning how to read and write the language). Within a week, I can already master the sentence structure and start learning the grammar with particles. The local community is so excited to see that I am starting to learn their language. Out of all the language learning tools out there, I 100% recommend Rosetta Stone!

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I've tried other language learning software but Rosetta Stone is much more challenging and professional. I don't have to worry about earning points and following the leader board. I'm trying out the ninety day trial to learn some Russian and I will pay for the privilege once I reach the end of the trial.

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