French language

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French language_table_infobox_0

FrenchFrench language_header_cell_0_0_0
PronunciationFrench language_header_cell_0_1_0 [fʁɑ̃sɛFrench language_cell_0_1_1
RegionFrench language_header_cell_0_2_0 France, now worldwide (distribution maps below)French language_cell_0_2_1
Native speakersFrench language_header_cell_0_3_0 76.8 million worldwide

An estimated 274 million French speakers (L1 plus L2; 2014)French language_cell_0_3_1

Language familyFrench language_header_cell_0_4_0 Indo-EuropeanFrench language_cell_0_4_1
Early formsFrench language_header_cell_0_5_0 Old LatinFrench language_cell_0_5_1
Writing systemFrench language_header_cell_0_6_0 Latin (French alphabet)

French BrailleFrench language_cell_0_6_1

Signed formsFrench language_header_cell_0_7_0 Signed French

(français signé)French language_cell_0_7_1

Official statusFrench language_header_cell_0_8_0
Official language inFrench language_header_cell_0_9_0 29 countries



10 dependent entitiesFrench language_cell_0_9_1

Regulated byFrench language_header_cell_0_10_0 Académie Française (French Academy) (France)
Office québécois de la langue française (Quebec Board of the French Language) (Quebec)French language_cell_0_10_1
Language codesFrench language_header_cell_0_11_0
ISO 639-1French language_header_cell_0_12_0 French language_cell_0_12_1
ISO 639-2French language_header_cell_0_13_0 (B)

 (T)French language_cell_0_13_1

ISO 639-3French language_header_cell_0_14_0 French language_cell_0_14_1
GlottologFrench language_header_cell_0_15_0 French language_cell_0_15_1
LinguasphereFrench language_header_cell_0_16_0 51-AAA-iFrench language_cell_0_16_1

French (français [fʁɑ̃sɛ or langue française [lɑ̃ɡ fʁɑ̃sɛːz) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. French language_sentence_0

It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French language_sentence_1

French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the Latin spoken in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. French language_sentence_2

Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) largely supplanted. French language_sentence_3

French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. French language_sentence_4

Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. French language_sentence_5

A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French. French language_sentence_6

A major world language, French is an official language in 29 countries across multiple continents, most of which are members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the community of 84 countries which share the official use or teaching of French. French language_sentence_7

French is also one of six official languages used in the United Nations. French language_sentence_8

It is spoken as a first language (in descending order of the number of speakers) in France; Canada (provinces of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick as well as other Francophone regions); Belgium (Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region); western Switzerland (Romandy—all or part of the cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel, Vaud, Valais); Monaco; parts of Luxembourg; parts of the United States (the states of Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont); northwestern Italy (autonomous region of Aosta Valley); and various communities elsewhere. French language_sentence_9

In 2015, approximately 40% of the francophone population (including L2 and partial speakers) lived in Europe, 35% in sub-Saharan Africa, 15% in North Africa and the Middle East, 8% in the Americas, and 1% in Asia and Oceania. French language_sentence_10

French is the second most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union. French language_sentence_11

Of Europeans who speak other languages natively, approximately one-fifth are able to speak French as a second language. French language_sentence_12

French is the second most taught foreign language in the EU. French language_sentence_13

All institutions of the EU use French as a working language along with English and German; in certain institutions, French is the sole working language (e.g. at the Court of Justice of the European Union). French language_sentence_14

French is also the 18th most natively spoken language in the world, 6th most spoken language by total number of speakers and the second or third most studied language worldwide (with about 120 million current learners). French language_sentence_15

As a result of French and Belgian colonialism from the 16th century onward, French was introduced to new territories in the Americas, Africa and Asia. French language_sentence_16

Most second-language speakers reside in Francophone Africa, in particular Gabon, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritius, Senegal and Ivory Coast. French language_sentence_17

French is estimated to have about 76 million native speakers; about 235 million daily, fluent speakers; and another 77–110 million secondary speakers who speak it as a second language to varying degrees of proficiency, mainly in Africa. French language_sentence_18

According to the OIF, approximately 300 million people worldwide are "able to speak the language", without specifying the criteria for this estimation or whom it encompasses. French language_sentence_19

According to a demographic projection led by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, the total number of French speakers will reach approximately 500 million in 2025 and 650 million by 2050. French language_sentence_20

OIF estimates 700 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in Africa. French language_sentence_21

French has a long history as an international language of literature and scientific standards and is a primary or second language of many international organisations including the United Nations, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Olympic Committee, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. French language_sentence_22

In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked French the third most useful language for business, after English and Standard Mandarin Chinese. French language_sentence_23

History French language_section_0

Main article: History of French French language_sentence_24

French is a Romance language (meaning that it is descended primarily from Vulgar Latin) that evolved out of the Gallo-Romance dialects spoken in northern France. French language_sentence_25

The language's early forms include Old French and Middle French. French language_sentence_26

Vulgar Latin in Gallia French language_section_1

See also: Gallo-Romance French language_sentence_27

Due to Roman rule, Latin was gradually adopted by the inhabitants of Gaul, and as the language was learned by the common people it developed a distinct local character, with grammatical differences from Latin as spoken elsewhere, some of which being attested on graffiti. French language_sentence_28

This local variety evolved into the Gallo-Romance tongues, which include French and its closest relatives, such as Arpitan. French language_sentence_29

The evolution of Latin in Gaul was shaped by its coexistence for over half a millennium beside the native Celtic Gaulish language, which did not go extinct until the late 6th century, long after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. French language_sentence_30

The population remained 90% indigenous in origin; the Romanizing class was the local native elite (not Roman settlers), whose children learned Latin in Roman schools. French language_sentence_31

At the time of the collapse of the Empire, this local elite had been slowly abandoning Gaulish entirely, but the rural and lower class populations remained Gaulish speakers who could sometimes also speak Latin or Greek. French language_sentence_32

The final language shift from Gaulish to Vulgar Latin among rural and lower class populations occurred later, when both they and the incoming Frankish ruler/military class adopted the Gallo-Roman Vulgar Latin speech of the urban intellectual elite. French language_sentence_33

The Gaulish language likely survived into the 6th century in France, despite considerable Romanization. French language_sentence_34

Coexisting with Latin, Gaulish helped shape the Vulgar Latin dialects that developed into French, with effects including loanwords and calques (including oui, the word for "yes"), sound changes shaped by Gaulish influence, and influences in conjugation and word order. French language_sentence_35

Recent computational studies suggest that early gender shifts may have been motivated by the gender of the corresponding word in Gaulish. French language_sentence_36

Old French French language_section_2

Main article: Old French French language_sentence_37

The beginning of French in Gaul was greatly influenced by Germanic invasions into the country. French language_sentence_38

These invasions had the greatest impact on the northern part of the country and on the language there. French language_sentence_39

A language divide began to grow across the country. French language_sentence_40

The population in the north spoke langue d'oïl while the population in the south spoke langue d'oc. French language_sentence_41

Langue d'oïl grew into what is known as Old French. French language_sentence_42

The period of Old French spanned between the 8th and 14th centuries. French language_sentence_43

Old French shared many characteristics with Latin. French language_sentence_44

For example, Old French made use of different possible word orders just as Latin did because it had a case system that retained the difference between nominative subjects and oblique non-subjects. French language_sentence_45

The period is marked by a heavy superstrate influence from the Germanic Frankish language, which non-exhaustively included the use in upper-class speech and higher registers of V2 word order, a large percentage of the vocabulary (now at around 15% of modern French vocabulary ) including the impersonal singular pronoun on (a calque of Germanic man), and the name of the language itself. French language_sentence_46

Middle French French language_section_3

Main article: Middle French French language_sentence_47

Within Old French many dialects emerged but the Francien dialect is one that not only continued but also thrived during the Middle French period (14th–17th centuries). French language_sentence_48

Modern French grew out of this Francien dialect. French language_sentence_49

Grammatically, during the period of Middle French, noun declensions were lost and there began to be standardized rules. French language_sentence_50

Robert Estienne published the first Latin-French dictionary, which included information about phonetics, etymology, and grammar. French language_sentence_51

Politically, the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts (1539) named French the language of law. French language_sentence_52

Modern French French language_section_4

During the 17th century, French replaced Latin as the most important language of diplomacy and international relations (lingua franca). French language_sentence_53

It retained this role until approximately the middle of the 20th century, when it was replaced by English as the United States became the dominant global power following the Second World War. French language_sentence_54

Stanley Meisler of the Los Angeles Times said that the fact that the Treaty of Versailles was written in English as well as French was the "first diplomatic blow" against the language. French language_sentence_55

During the Grand Siècle (17th century), France, under the rule of powerful leaders such as Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIV, enjoyed a period of prosperity and prominence among European nations. French language_sentence_56

Richelieu established the Académie française to protect the French language. French language_sentence_57

By the early 1800s, Parisian French had become the primary language of the aristocracy in France. French language_sentence_58

Near the beginning of the 19th century, the French government began to pursue policies with the end goal of eradicating the many minorities and regional languages (patois) spoken in France. French language_sentence_59

This began in 1794 with Henri Grégoire's "Report on the necessity and means to annihilate the patois and to universalize the use of the French language". French language_sentence_60

When public education was made compulsory, only French was taught and the use of any other (patois) language was punished. French language_sentence_61

The goals of the Public School System were made especially clear to the French-speaking teachers sent to teach students in regions such as Occitania and Brittany. French language_sentence_62

Instructions given by a French official to teachers in the department of Finistère, in western Brittany, included the following: "And remember, Gents: you were given your position in order to kill the Breton language". French language_sentence_63

The prefect of Basses-Pyrénées in the French Basque Country wrote in 1846: "Our schools in the Basque Country are particularly meant to replace the Basque language with French..." Students were taught that their ancestral languages were inferior and they should be ashamed of them; this process was known in the Occitan-speaking region as Vergonha. French language_sentence_64

Among the historic reformers of French orthography, such as Louis Maigret, Marle M., Marcellin Berthelot, , Jacques Peletier du Mans, and Somaize, nowadays the most striking reform is proposed by Mickael Korvin, a Franco-American linguist of Hungarian origin who wants to eliminate accents, silent letters, double letters and more. French language_sentence_65

Geographic distribution French language_section_5

Main article: Geographical distribution of French speakers French language_sentence_66

Europe French language_section_6

Main article: European French French language_sentence_67

Spoken by 19.71% of the European Union's population, French is the third most widely spoken language in the EU, after English and German and the second most-widely taught language after English. French language_sentence_68

Under the Constitution of France, French has been the official language of the Republic since 1992, although the ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts made it mandatory for legal documents in 1539. French language_sentence_69

France mandates the use of French in official government publications, public education except in specific cases, and legal contracts; advertisements must bear a translation of foreign words. French language_sentence_70

In Belgium, French is an official language at the federal level along with German. French language_sentence_71

At the regional level, French is the sole official language of Wallonia (excluding a part of the East Cantons, which are German-speaking) and one of the two official languages—along with Dutch—of the Brussels-Capital Region, where it is spoken by the majority of the population (approx. French language_sentence_72

80%), often as their primary language. French language_sentence_73

French is one of the four official languages of Switzerland, along with German, Italian, and Romansh, and is spoken in the western part of Switzerland, called Romandy, of which Geneva is the largest city. French language_sentence_74

The language divisions in Switzerland do not coincide with political subdivisions, and some cantons have bilingual status: for example, cities such as Biel/Bienne and cantons such as Valais, Fribourg and Berne. French language_sentence_75

French is the native language of about 23% of the Swiss population, and is spoken by 50% of the population. French language_sentence_76

Along with Luxembourgish and German, French is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg, where it is generally the preferred language of business as well as of the different public administrations. French language_sentence_77

It is also the official language of Monaco. French language_sentence_78

At a regional level, French is acknowledged as official language in the Aosta Valley region of Italy where it is the first language of approximately 30% of the population, while French dialects remain spoken by minorities on the Channel Islands. French language_sentence_79

It is also spoken in Andorra and is the main language after Catalan in El Pas de la Casa. French language_sentence_80

The language is taught as the primary second language in the German land of Saarland, with French being taught from pre-school and over 43% of citizens being able to speak French. French language_sentence_81

Africa French language_section_7

Main article: African French French language_sentence_82

The majority of the world's French-speaking population lives in Africa. French language_sentence_83

According to a 2018 estimate from the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, an estimated 141 million African people spread across 34 countries and territories can speak French as either a first or a second language. French language_sentence_84

This number does not include the people living in non-Francophone African countries who have learned French as a foreign language. French language_sentence_85

Due to the rise of French in Africa, the total French-speaking population worldwide is expected to reach 700 million people in 2050. French language_sentence_86

French is the fastest growing language on the continent (in terms of either official or foreign languages). French language_sentence_87

French is mostly a second language in Africa, but it has become a first language in some urban areas, such as the region of Abidjan, Ivory Coast and in Libreville, Gabon. French language_sentence_88

There is not a single African French, but multiple forms that diverged through contact with various indigenous African languages. French language_sentence_89

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region where the French language is most likely to expand, because of the expansion of education and rapid population growth. French language_sentence_90

It is also where the language has evolved the most in recent years. French language_sentence_91

Some vernacular forms of French in Africa can be difficult to understand for French speakers from other countries, but written forms of the language are very closely related to those of the rest of the French-speaking world. French language_sentence_92

Americas French language_section_8

Further information: Languages of North America, Languages of South America, Languages of the Caribbean, and French language in Canada French language_sentence_93

French is the second most common language in Canada, after English, and both are official languages at the federal level. French language_sentence_94

It is the first language of 9.5 million people or 29% and the second language for 2.07 million or 6% of the entire population of Canada. French language_sentence_95

French is the sole official language in the province of Quebec, being the mother tongue for some 7 million people, or almost 80% (2006 Census) of the province. French language_sentence_96

About 95% of the people of Quebec speak French as either their first or second language, and for some as their third language. French language_sentence_97

Quebec is also home to the city of Montreal, which is the world's 4th-largest French-speaking city, by number of first language speakers. French language_sentence_98

New Brunswick and Manitoba are the only officially bilingual provinces, though full bilingualism is enacted only in New Brunswick, where about one third of the population is Francophone. French language_sentence_99

French is also an official language of all of the territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon). French language_sentence_100

Out of the three, Yukon has the most French speakers, comprising just under 4% of the population. French language_sentence_101

Furthermore, while French is not an official language in Ontario, the French Language Services Act ensures that provincial services are to be available in the language. French language_sentence_102

The Act applies to areas of the province where there are significant Francophone communities, namely Eastern Ontario and Northern Ontario. French language_sentence_103

Elsewhere, sizable French-speaking minorities are found in southern Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Port au Port Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the unique Newfoundland French dialect was historically spoken. French language_sentence_104

Smaller pockets of French speakers exist in all other provinces. French language_sentence_105

The Ontarian city of Ottawa, the Canadian capital, is also effectively bilingual, as it has a large population of federal government workers, who are required to offer services in both French and English, and is across a river from Quebec, opposite the major city of Gatineau with which it forms a single metropolitan area. French language_sentence_106

According to the United States Census Bureau (2011), French is the fourth most-spoken language in the United States after English, Spanish, and Chinese, when all forms of French are considered together and all dialects of Chinese are similarly combined. French language_sentence_107

French remains the second most-spoken language in the states of Louisiana, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. French language_sentence_108

Louisiana is home to many distinct dialects, collectively known as Louisiana French. French language_sentence_109

According to the 2000 United States Census, there are over 194,000 people in Louisiana who speak French at home, the most of any state if Creole French is excluded. French language_sentence_110

New England French, essentially a variant of Canadian French, is spoken in parts of New England. French language_sentence_111

Missouri French was historically spoken in Missouri and Illinois (formerly known as Upper Louisiana), but is nearly extinct today. French language_sentence_112

French also survived in isolated pockets along the Gulf Coast of what was previously French Lower Louisiana, such as Mon Louis Island, Alabama and DeLisle, Mississippi (the latter only being discovered by linguists in the 1990s) but these varieties are severely endangered or presumed extinct. French language_sentence_113

French is one of Haiti's two official languages. French language_sentence_114

It is the principal language of writing, school instruction, and administrative use. French language_sentence_115

It is spoken by all educated Haitians and is used in the business sector. French language_sentence_116

It is also used for ceremonial events such as weddings, graduations and church masses. French language_sentence_117

About 70–80% of the country's population have Haitian Creole as their first language; the rest speak French as a first language. French language_sentence_118

The second official language is the recently standardized Haitian Creole, which virtually the entire population of Haiti speaks. French language_sentence_119

Haitian Creole is one of the French-based creole languages, drawing the large majority of its vocabulary from French, with influences from West African languages, as well as several European languages. French language_sentence_120

Haitian Creole is closely related to Louisiana Creole and the creole from the Lesser Antilles. French language_sentence_121

French is the official language of both French Guiana on the South American continent, and of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, an archipelago off the coast of Newfoundland in North America. French language_sentence_122

Asia French language_section_9

South Asia French language_section_10

See also: Indian French French language_sentence_123

French was spoken in French India and is still one of the official languages of Puducherry. French language_sentence_124

Southeast Asia French language_section_11

See also: French language in Vietnam, French language in Laos, and French language in Cambodia French language_sentence_125

French was the official language of the colony of French Indochina, comprising modern-day Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. French language_sentence_126

It continues to be an administrative language in Laos and Cambodia, although its influence has waned in recent years. French language_sentence_127

In colonial Vietnam, the elites primarily spoke French, while many servants who worked in French households spoke a French pidgin known as "Tây Bồi" (now extinct). French language_sentence_128

After French rule ended, South Vietnam continued to use French in administration, education, and trade. French language_sentence_129

Since the Fall of Saigon and the opening of a unified Vietnam's economy, French has gradually been effectively displaced as the main foreign language of choice by English. French language_sentence_130

French nevertheless maintains its colonial legacy by being spoken as a second language by the elderly and elite populations and is presently being revived in higher education and continues to be a diplomatic language in Vietnam. French language_sentence_131

All three countries are official members of the OIF. French language_sentence_132

Western Asia French language_section_12

Lebanon French language_section_13

See also: French language in Lebanon French language_sentence_133

A former French mandate, Lebanon designates Arabic as the sole official language, while a special law regulates cases when French can be publicly used. French language_sentence_134

Article 11 of Lebanon's Constitution states that "Arabic is the official national language. French language_sentence_135

A law determines the cases in which the French language is to be used". French language_sentence_136

The French language in Lebanon is a widespread second language among the Lebanese people, and is taught in many schools along with Arabic and English. French language_sentence_137

French is used on Lebanese pound banknotes, on road signs, on Lebanese license plates, and on official buildings (alongside Arabic). French language_sentence_138

Today, French and English are secondary languages of Lebanon, with about 40% of the population being Francophone and 40% Anglophone. French language_sentence_139

The use of English is growing in the business and media environment. French language_sentence_140

Out of about 900,000 students, about 500,000 are enrolled in Francophone schools, public or private, in which the teaching of mathematics and scientific subjects is provided in French. French language_sentence_141

Actual usage of French varies depending on the region and social status. French language_sentence_142

One-third of high school students educated in French go on to pursue higher education in English-speaking institutions. French language_sentence_143

English is the language of business and communication, with French being an element of social distinction, chosen for its emotional value. French language_sentence_144

Israel French language_section_14

A significant French-speaking community is also present in Israel, primarily among the communities of French Jews in Israel, Moroccan Jews in Israel and Lebanese Jews. French language_sentence_145

Many secondary schools offer French as a foreign language. French language_sentence_146

United Arab Emirates and Qatar French language_section_15

The UAE has the status in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie as an observer state, and Qatar has the status in the organization as an associate state. French language_sentence_147

However, in both countries, French is not spoken by almost any of the general population or migrant workers, but spoken by a small minority of those who invest in Francophone countries or have other financial or family ties. French language_sentence_148

Their entrance as observer and associate states respectively into the organization was aided a good deal by their investments into the Organisation and France itself. French language_sentence_149

A country's status as an observer state in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie gives the country the right to send representatives to organization meetings and make formal requests to the organization but they do not have voting rights within the OIF. French language_sentence_150

A country's status as an associate state also does not give a country voting abilities but associate states can discuss and review organization matters. French language_sentence_151

Oceania and Australasia French language_section_16

French is an official language of the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu, where 31% of the population was estimated to speak it in 2018. French language_sentence_152

In the French special collectivity of New Caledonia, 97% of the population can speak, read and write French while in French Polynesia this figure is 95%, and in the French collectivity of Wallis and Futuna, it is 84%. French language_sentence_153

In French Polynesia and to a lesser extent Wallis and Futuna, where oral and written knowledge of the French language has become almost nearly universal (95% and 84% respectively), French increasingly tends to displace the native Polynesian languages as the language most spoken at home. French language_sentence_154

In French Polynesia, the percentage of the population who reported that French was the language they use the most at home rose from 67% at the 2007 census to 74% at the 2017 census. French language_sentence_155

In Wallis and Futuna, the percentage of the population who reported that French was the language they use the most at home rose from 10% at the 2008 census to 13% at the 2018 census. French language_sentence_156

Future French language_section_17

The future of the French language is often discussed in the news. French language_sentence_157

For example, in 2014, The New York Times documented an increase in the teaching of French in New York, especially in K-12 dual-language programs where Spanish and Mandarin are the only second-language options more popular than French. French language_sentence_158

In a study published in March 2014 by Forbes, the investment bank Natixis said that French could become the world's most spoken language by 2050. French language_sentence_159

It noted that French is spreading in areas where the population is rapidly increasing, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. French language_sentence_160

In the European Union, French was once the dominant language within all institutions until the 1990s. French language_sentence_161

After several enlargements of the EU (1995, 2004), French significantly lost ground in favour of English, which is more widely spoken and taught in most EU countries. French language_sentence_162

French currently remains one of the three working languages, or "procedural languages", of the EU, along with English and German. French language_sentence_163

It is the second most widely used language within EU institutions after English, but remains the preferred language of certain institutions or administrations such as the Court of Justice of the European Union, where it is the sole internal working language, or the Directorate-General for Agriculture. French language_sentence_164

Since 2016, Brexit has rekindled discussions on whether or not French should again hold greater role within the institutions of the European Union. French language_sentence_165

Varieties French language_section_18

Main article: Varieties of French French language_sentence_166

Current status and importance French language_section_19

A leading world language, French is taught in universities around the world, and is one of the world's most influential languages because of its wide use in the worlds of journalism, jurisprudence, education, and diplomacy. French language_sentence_167

In diplomacy, French is one of the six official languages of the United Nations (and one of the UN Secretariat's only two working languages), one of twenty official and three working languages of the European Union, an official language of NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Organization of American States (alongside Spanish, Portuguese and English), the Eurovision Song Contest, one of eighteen official languages of the European Space Agency, World Trade Organization and the least used of the three official languages in the North American Free Trade Agreement countries. French language_sentence_168

It is also a working language in nonprofit organisations such as the Red Cross (alongside English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian), Amnesty International (alongside 32 other languages of which English is the most used, followed by Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Italian), Médecins sans Frontières (used alongside English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic), and Médecins du Monde (used alongside English). French language_sentence_169

Given the demographic prospects of the French-speaking nations of Africa, researcher Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote in 2014 that French "could be the language of the future". French language_sentence_170

Significant as a judicial language, French is one of the official languages of such major international and regional courts, tribunals, and dispute-settlement bodies as the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Court of Justice for the Economic Community of West African States, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea the International Criminal Court and the World Trade Organization Appellate Body. French language_sentence_171

It is the sole internal working language of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and makes with English the European Court of Human Rights's two working languages. French language_sentence_172

In 1997, George Werber published, in Language Today, a comprehensive academic study entitled "The World's 10 most influential languages". French language_sentence_173

In the article, Werber ranked French as, after English, the second most influential language of the world, ahead of Spanish. French language_sentence_174

His criteria were the numbers of native speakers, the number of secondary speakers (especially high for French among fellow world languages), the number of countries using the language and their respective populations, the economic power of the countries using the language, the number of major areas in which the language is used, and the linguistic prestige associated with the mastery of the language (Werber highlighted that French in particular enjoys considerable linguistic prestige). French language_sentence_175

In a 2008 reassessment of his article, Werber concluded that his findings were still correct since "the situation among the top ten remains unchanged." French language_sentence_176

Knowledge of French is often considered to be a useful skill by business owners in the United Kingdom; a 2014 study found that 50% of British managers considered French to be a valuable asset for their business, thus ranking French as the most sought-after foreign language there, ahead of German (49%) and Spanish (44%). French language_sentence_177

MIT economist Albert Saiz calculated a 2.3% premium for those who have French as a foreign language in the workplace. French language_sentence_178

In English-speaking Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, French is the first foreign language taught and in number of pupils is far ahead of other languages. French language_sentence_179

In the United States, Spanish is the most commonly taught foreign language in schools and universities, though French is next. French language_sentence_180

In some areas of the country nearest to French-speaking Quebec, it is the language more commonly taught. French language_sentence_181

Phonology French language_section_20

Main article: French phonology French language_sentence_182

French language_table_general_1

Consonant phonemes in FrenchFrench language_table_caption_1
French language_header_cell_1_0_0 LabialFrench language_header_cell_1_0_2 Dental/

AlveolarFrench language_header_cell_1_0_3

Palatal/

PostalveolarFrench language_header_cell_1_0_4

Velar/

UvularFrench language_header_cell_1_0_5

NasalFrench language_header_cell_1_1_0 mFrench language_cell_1_1_2 nFrench language_cell_1_1_3 ɲFrench language_cell_1_1_4 ŋFrench language_cell_1_1_5
StopFrench language_header_cell_1_2_0 voicelessFrench language_header_cell_1_2_1 pFrench language_cell_1_2_2 tFrench language_cell_1_2_3 French language_cell_1_2_4 kFrench language_cell_1_2_5
voicedFrench language_header_cell_1_3_0 bFrench language_cell_1_3_1 dFrench language_cell_1_3_2 French language_cell_1_3_3 ɡFrench language_cell_1_3_4
FricativeFrench language_header_cell_1_4_0 voicelessFrench language_header_cell_1_4_1 fFrench language_cell_1_4_2 sFrench language_cell_1_4_3 ʃFrench language_cell_1_4_4 ʁFrench language_cell_1_4_5
voicedFrench language_header_cell_1_5_0 vFrench language_cell_1_5_1 zFrench language_cell_1_5_2 ʒFrench language_cell_1_5_3
ApproximantFrench language_header_cell_1_6_0 plainFrench language_header_cell_1_6_1 French language_cell_1_6_2 lFrench language_cell_1_6_3 jFrench language_cell_1_6_4 French language_cell_1_6_5
labialFrench language_header_cell_1_7_0 French language_cell_1_7_1 French language_cell_1_7_2 ɥFrench language_cell_1_7_3 wFrench language_cell_1_7_4

Vowel phonemes in French French language_sentence_183

Although there are many French regional accents, foreign learners normally use only one variety of the language. French language_sentence_184

French language_unordered_list_0

  • There are a maximum of 17 vowels in French, not all of which are used in every dialect: /a/, /ɑ/, /e/, /ɛ/, /ɛː/, /ə/, /i/, /o/, /ɔ/, /y/, /u/, /œ/, /ø/, plus the nasalized vowels /ɑ̃/, /ɛ̃/, /ɔ̃/ and /œ̃/. In France, the vowels /ɑ/, /ɛː/ and /œ̃/ are tending to be replaced by /a/, /ɛ/ and /ɛ̃/ in many people's speech, but the distinction of /ɛ̃/ and /œ̃/ is present in Meridional French. In Quebec and Belgian French, the vowels /ɑ/, /ə/, /ɛː/ and /œ̃/ are present.French language_item_0_0
  • Voiced stops (i.e., /b, d, ɡ/) are typically produced fully voiced throughout.French language_item_0_1
  • Voiceless stops (i.e., /p, t, k/) are unaspirated.French language_item_0_2
  • The velar nasal /ŋ/ can occur in final position in borrowed (usually English) words: parking, camping, swing. The palatal nasal /ɲ/ can occur in word initial position (e.g., gnon), but it is most frequently found in intervocalic, onset position or word-finally (e.g., montagne).French language_item_0_3
  • French has three pairs of homorganic fricatives distinguished by voicing, i.e., labiodental /f/~/v/, dental /s/~/z/, and palato-alveolar /ʃ/~/ʒ/. /s/~/z/ are dental, like the plosives /t/~/d/ and the nasal /n/.French language_item_0_4
  • French has one rhotic whose pronunciation varies considerably among speakers and phonetic contexts. In general, it is described as a voiced uvular fricative, as in [ʁu] , "wheel". Vowels are often lengthened before this segment. It can be reduced to an approximant, particularly in final position (e.g., fort), or reduced to zero in some word-final positions. For other speakers, a uvular trill is also common, and an apical trill [r] occurs in some dialects.French language_item_0_5
  • Lateral and central approximants: The lateral approximant /l/ is unvelarised in both onset (lire) and coda position (il). In the onset, the central approximants [w], [ɥ], and [j] each correspond to a high vowel, /u/, /y/, and /i/ respectively. There are a few minimal pairs where the approximant and corresponding vowel contrast, but there are also many cases where they are in free variation. Contrasts between /j/ and /i/ occur in final position as in /pɛj/ , "pay", vs. /pɛi/ , "country".French language_item_0_6

French pronunciation follows strict rules based on spelling, but French spelling is often based more on history than phonology. French language_sentence_185

The rules for pronunciation vary between dialects, but the standard rules are: French language_sentence_186

French language_unordered_list_1

  • Final single consonants, in particular s, x, z, t, d, n, p and g, are normally silent. (A consonant is considered "final" when no vowel follows it even if one or more consonants follow it.) The final letters f, k, q, and l, however, are normally pronounced. The final c is sometimes pronounced like in bac, sac, roc but can also be silent like in blanc or estomac. The final r is usually silent when it follows an e in a word of two or more syllables, but it is pronounced in some words (hiver, super, cancer etc.).French language_item_1_7
    • When the following word begins with a vowel, however, a silent consonant may once again be pronounced, to provide a liaison or "link" between the two words. Some liaisons are mandatory, for example the s in les amants or vous avez; some are optional, depending on dialect and register, for example, the first s in deux cents euros or euros irlandais; and some are forbidden, for example, the s in beaucoup d'hommes aiment. The t of et is never pronounced and the silent final consonant of a noun is only pronounced in the plural and in set phrases like pied-à-terre.French language_item_1_8
    • Doubling a final n and adding a silent e at the end of a word (e.g., chien → chienne) makes it clearly pronounced. Doubling a final l and adding a silent e (e.g., gentil → gentille) adds a [j] sound if the l is preceded by the letter i.French language_item_1_9
  • Some monosyllabic function words ending in a or e, such as je and que, drop their final vowel when placed before a word that begins with a vowel sound (thus avoiding a hiatus). The missing vowel is replaced by an apostrophe. (e.g., *je ai is instead pronounced and spelled → j'ai). This gives, for example, the same pronunciation for l'homme qu'il a vu ("the man whom he saw") and l'homme qui l'a vu ("the man who saw him"). However, for Belgian French the sentences are pronounced differently; in the first sentence the syllable break is as "qu'il-a", while the second breaks as "qui-l'a". It can also be noted that, in Quebec French, the second example (l'homme qui l'a vu) is more emphasized on l'a vu.French language_item_1_10

Writing system French language_section_21

Alphabet French language_section_22

Main articles: French alphabet and French braille French language_sentence_187

French is written with the 26 letters of the basic Latin script, with four diacritics appearing on vowels (circumflex accent, acute accent, grave accent, diaeresis) and the cedilla appearing in "ç". French language_sentence_188

There are two ligatures, "œ" and "æ", but they are often replaced in contemporary French with "oe" and "ae", because the ligatures do not appear on the AZERTY keyboard layout used in French-speaking countries. French language_sentence_189

However this is nonstandard in formal and literary texts. French language_sentence_190

Orthography French language_section_23

Main articles: French orthography and Reforms of French orthography French language_sentence_191

French spelling, like English spelling, tends to preserve obsolete pronunciation rules. French language_sentence_192

This is mainly due to extreme phonetic changes since the Old French period, without a corresponding change in spelling. French language_sentence_193

Moreover, some conscious changes were made to restore Latin orthography (as with some English words such as "debt"): French language_sentence_194

French language_unordered_list_2

  • Old French doit > French doigt "finger" (Latin digitus)French language_item_2_11
  • Old French pie > French pied "foot" [Latin pes (stem: ped-)]French language_item_2_12

French is a morphophonemic language. French language_sentence_195

While it contains 130 graphemes that denote only 36 phonemes, many of its spelling rules are likely due to a consistency in morphemic patterns such as adding suffixes and prefixes. French language_sentence_196

Many given spellings of common morphemes usually lead to a predictable sound. French language_sentence_197

In particular, a given vowel combination or diacritic generally leads to one phoneme. French language_sentence_198

However, there is not a one-to-one relation of a phoneme and a single related grapheme, which can be seen in how tomber and tombé both end with the /e/ phoneme. French language_sentence_199

Additionally, there are many variations in the pronunciation of consonants at the end of words, demonstrated by how the x in paix is not pronounced though at the end of Aix it is. French language_sentence_200

As a result, it can be difficult to predict the spelling of a word based on the sound. French language_sentence_201

Final consonants are generally silent, except when the following word begins with a vowel (see Liaison (French)). French language_sentence_202

For example, the following words end in a vowel sound: pied, aller, les, finit, beaux. French language_sentence_203

The same words followed by a vowel, however, may sound the consonants, as they do in these examples: beaux-arts, les amis, pied-à-terre. French language_sentence_204

French writing, as with any language, is affected by the spoken language. French language_sentence_205

In Old French, the plural for animal was animals. French language_sentence_206

The /als/ sequence was unstable and was turned into a diphthong /aus/. French language_sentence_207

This change was then reflected in the orthography: animaus. French language_sentence_208

The us ending, very common in Latin, was then abbreviated by copyists (monks) by the letter x, resulting in a written form animax. French language_sentence_209

As the French language further evolved, the pronunciation of au turned into /o/ so that the u was reestablished in orthography for consistency, resulting in modern French animaux (pronounced first /animos/ before the final /s/ was dropped in contemporary French). French language_sentence_210

The same is true for cheval pluralized as chevaux and many others. French language_sentence_211

In addition, castel pl. castels became château pl. châteaux. French language_sentence_212

French language_unordered_list_3

  • Nasal: n and m. When n or m follows a vowel or diphthong, the n or m becomes silent and causes the preceding vowel to become nasalized (i.e., pronounced with the soft palate extended downward so as to allow part of the air to leave through the nostrils). Exceptions are when the n or m is doubled, or immediately followed by a vowel. The prefixes en- and em- are always nasalized. The rules are more complex than this but may vary between dialects.French language_item_3_13
  • Digraphs: French uses not only diacritics to specify its large range of vowel sounds and diphthongs, but also specific combinations of vowels, sometimes with following consonants, to show which sound is intended.French language_item_3_14
  • Gemination: Within words, double consonants are generally not pronounced as geminates in modern French (but geminates can be heard in the cinema or TV news from as recently as the 1970s, and in very refined elocution they may still occur). For example, illusion is pronounced [ilyzjɔ̃] and not [ilːyzjɔ̃]. However, gemination does occur between words; for example, une info ("a news item" or "a piece of information") is pronounced [ynɛ̃fo], whereas une nympho ("a nymphomaniac") is pronounced [ynːɛ̃fo].French language_item_3_15
  • Accents are used sometimes for pronunciation, sometimes to distinguish similar words, and sometimes based on etymology alone.French language_item_3_16
    • Accents that affect pronunciationFrench language_item_3_17
      • The acute accent (l'accent aigu) é (e.g., école—school) means that the vowel is pronounced /e/ instead of the default /ə/.French language_item_3_18
      • The grave accent (l'accent grave) è (e.g., élève—pupil) means that the vowel is pronounced /ɛ/ instead of the default /ə/.French language_item_3_19
      • The circumflex (l'accent circonflexe) ê (e.g. forêt—forest) shows that an e is pronounced /ɛ/ and that an ô is pronounced /o/. In standard French, it also signifies a pronunciation of /ɑ/ for the letter â, but this differentiation is disappearing. In the mid-18th century, the circumflex was used in place of s after a vowel, where that letter s was not pronounced. Thus, forest became forêt, hospital became hôpital, and hostel became hôtel.French language_item_3_20
      • Diaeresis or tréma (ë, ï, ü, ÿ): over e, i, u or y, indicates that a vowel is to be pronounced separately from the preceding one: naïve, Noël.French language_item_3_21
        • The combination of e with diaeresis following o (Noël [ɔɛ) is nasalized in the regular way if followed by n (Samoëns [wɛ̃)French language_item_3_22
        • The combination of e with diaeresis following a is either pronounced (Raphaël, Israël [aɛ) or not pronounced, leaving only the a (Staël [a) and the a is nasalized in the regular way if aë is followed by n (Saint-Saëns [ɑ̃)French language_item_3_23
        • A diaeresis on y only occurs in some proper names and in modern editions of old French texts. Some proper names in which ÿ appears include Aÿ (a commune in Marne, formerly Aÿ-Champagne), Rue des Cloÿs (an alley in Paris), Croÿ (family name and hotel on the Boulevard Raspail, Paris), (near Joigny), Ghÿs (name of Flemish origin spelt Ghijs where ij in handwriting looked like ÿ to French clerks), L'Haÿ-les-Roses (commune near Paris), Pierre Louÿs (author), Moÿ-de-l'Aisne (commune in Aisne and a family name), and Le Blanc de Nicolaÿ (an insurance company in eastern France).French language_item_3_24
        • The diaeresis on u appears in the Biblical proper names Archélaüs, Capharnaüm, Emmaüs, Ésaü, and Saül, as well as French names such as Haüy. Nevertheless, since the 1990 orthographic changes, the diaeresis in words containing guë (such as aiguë or ciguë) may be moved onto the u: aigüe, cigüe, and by analogy may be used in verbs such as j'argüe.French language_item_3_25
        • In addition, words coming from German retain their umlaut (ä, ö and ü) if applicable but use often French pronunciation, such as Kärcher (trademark of a pressure washer).French language_item_3_26
      • The cedilla (la cédille) ç (e.g., garçon—boy) means that the letter ç is pronounced /s/ in front of the back vowels a, o and u (c is otherwise /k/ before a back vowel). C is always pronounced /s/ in front of the front vowels e, i, and y, thus ç is never found in front of front vowels.French language_item_3_27
    • Accents with no pronunciation effectFrench language_item_3_28
      • The circumflex does not affect the pronunciation of the letters i or u, nor, in most dialects, a. It usually indicates that an s came after it long ago, as in île (isle, compare with English island). The explanation is that some words share the same orthography, so the circumflex is put here to mark the difference between the two words. For example, dites (you say) / dîtes (you said), or even du (of the) / dû (past participle for the verb devoir = must, have to, owe; in this case, the circumflex disappears in the plural and the feminine).French language_item_3_29
      • All other accents are used only to distinguish similar words, as in the case of distinguishing the adverbs là and où ("there", "where") from the article la ("the" feminine singular) and the conjunction ou ("or"), respectively.French language_item_3_30

Some proposals exist to simplify the existing writing system, but they still fail to gather interest. French language_sentence_213

In 1990, a reform accepted some changes to French orthography. French language_sentence_214

At the time the proposed changes were considered to be suggestions. French language_sentence_215

In 2016, schoolbooks in France began to use the newer recommended spellings, with instruction to teachers that both old and new spellings be deemed correct. French language_sentence_216

Grammar French language_section_24

Main article: French grammar French language_sentence_217

French is a moderately inflected language. French language_sentence_218

Nouns and most pronouns are inflected for number (singular or plural, though in most nouns the plural is pronounced the same as the singular even if spelled differently); adjectives, for number and gender (masculine or feminine) of their nouns; personal pronouns and a few other pronouns, for person, number, gender, and case; and verbs, for tense, aspect, mood, and the person and number of their subjects. French language_sentence_219

Case is primarily marked using word order and prepositions, while certain verb features are marked using auxiliary verbs. French language_sentence_220

According to the French lexicogrammatical system, French has a rank-scale hierarchy with clause as the top rank, which is followed by group rank, word rank, and morpheme rank. French language_sentence_221

A French clause is made up of groups, groups are made up of words, and lastly, words are made up of morphemes. French language_sentence_222

French grammar shares several notable features with most other Romance languages, including French language_sentence_223

French language_unordered_list_4

  • the loss of Latin declensionsFrench language_item_4_31
  • the loss of the neuter genderFrench language_item_4_32
  • the development of grammatical articles from Latin demonstrativesFrench language_item_4_33
  • the loss of certain Latin tenses and the creation of new tenses from auxiliaries.French language_item_4_34

Nouns French language_section_25

Every French noun is either masculine or feminine. French language_sentence_224

Because French nouns are not inflected for gender, a noun's form cannot specify its gender. French language_sentence_225

For nouns regarding the living, their grammatical genders often correspond to that which they refer to. French language_sentence_226

For example, a male teacher is a "enseignant" while a female teacher is a "enseignante". French language_sentence_227

However, plural nouns that refer to a group that includes both masculine and feminine entities are always masculine. French language_sentence_228

So a group of two male teachers would be "enseignants". French language_sentence_229

A group of two male teachers and two female teachers would still be "enseignants". French language_sentence_230

In many situations, and in the case of "enseignant", both the singular and plural form of a noun are pronounced identically. French language_sentence_231

The article used for singular nouns is different from that used for plural nouns and the article provides a distinguishing factor between the two in speech. French language_sentence_232

For example, the singular "le professeur" or "la professeur(e)" (the male or female teacher, professor) can be distinguished from the plural "les professeurs" because "le", "la", and "les" are all pronounced differently. French language_sentence_233

There are some situations where both the feminine and masculine form of a noun are the same and the article provides the only difference. French language_sentence_234

For example, "le dentiste" refers to a male dentist while "la dentiste" refers to a female dentist. French language_sentence_235

Verbs French language_section_26

Main article: French verbs French language_sentence_236

Moods and tense-aspect forms French language_section_27

The French language consists of both finite and non-finite moods. French language_sentence_237

The finite moods include the indicative mood (indicatif), the subjunctive mood (subjonctif), the imperative mood (impératif), and the conditional mood (conditionnel). French language_sentence_238

The non-finite moods include the infinitive mood (infinitif), the present participle (participe présent), and the past participle (participe passé). French language_sentence_239

Finite moods French language_section_28
Indicative (Indicatif) French language_section_29

The indicative mood makes use of eight tense-aspect forms. French language_sentence_240

These include the present (présent), the simple past (passé composé and passé simple), the past imperfective (imparfait), the pluperfect (plus-que-parfait), the simple future (futur simple), the future perfect (futur antérieur), and the past perfect (passé antérieur). French language_sentence_241

Some forms are less commonly used today. French language_sentence_242

In today's spoken French, the passé composé is used while the passé simple is reserved for formal situations or for literary purposes. French language_sentence_243

Similarly, the plus-que-parfait is used for speaking rather than the older passé antérieur seen in literary works. French language_sentence_244

Within the indicative mood, the passé composé, plus-que-parfait, futur antérieur, and passé antérieur all use auxiliary verbs in their forms. French language_sentence_245

French language_table_general_2

IndicatifFrench language_header_cell_2_0_0
French language_cell_2_1_0 PrésentFrench language_cell_2_1_1 ImparfaitFrench language_cell_2_1_3 Passé composéFrench language_cell_2_1_5 Passé simpleFrench language_cell_2_1_7
French language_cell_2_2_0 SingularFrench language_cell_2_2_1 PluralFrench language_cell_2_2_2 SingularFrench language_cell_2_2_3 PluralFrench language_cell_2_2_4 SingularFrench language_cell_2_2_5 PluralFrench language_cell_2_2_6 SingularFrench language_cell_2_2_7 PluralFrench language_cell_2_2_8
1st PersonFrench language_cell_2_3_0 j'aimeFrench language_cell_2_3_1 nous aimonsFrench language_cell_2_3_2 j'aimaisFrench language_cell_2_3_3 nous aimionsFrench language_cell_2_3_4 j'ai aiméFrench language_cell_2_3_5 nous avons aiméFrench language_cell_2_3_6 j'aimaiFrench language_cell_2_3_7 nous aimâmesFrench language_cell_2_3_8
2nd PersonFrench language_cell_2_4_0 tu aimesFrench language_cell_2_4_1 vous aimezFrench language_cell_2_4_2 tu aimaisFrench language_cell_2_4_3 vous aimiezFrench language_cell_2_4_4 tu as aiméFrench language_cell_2_4_5 vous avez aiméFrench language_cell_2_4_6 tu aimasFrench language_cell_2_4_7 vous aimâtesFrench language_cell_2_4_8
3rd PersonFrench language_cell_2_5_0 il/elle aimeFrench language_cell_2_5_1 ils/elles aimentFrench language_cell_2_5_2 il/elle aimaitFrench language_cell_2_5_3 ils/elles aimaientFrench language_cell_2_5_4 il/elle a aiméFrench language_cell_2_5_5 ils/elles ont aiméFrench language_cell_2_5_6 il/elle aimaFrench language_cell_2_5_7 ils/elles aimèrentFrench language_cell_2_5_8
French language_cell_2_7_0 Futur simpleFrench language_cell_2_7_1 Futur antérieurFrench language_cell_2_7_3 Plus-que-parfaitFrench language_cell_2_7_5 Passé antérieurFrench language_cell_2_7_7
French language_cell_2_8_0 SingularFrench language_cell_2_8_1 PluralFrench language_cell_2_8_2 SingularFrench language_cell_2_8_3 PluralFrench language_cell_2_8_4 SingularFrench language_cell_2_8_5 PluralFrench language_cell_2_8_6 SingularFrench language_cell_2_8_7 PluralFrench language_cell_2_8_8
1st PersonFrench language_cell_2_9_0 j'aimeraiFrench language_cell_2_9_1 nous aimeronsFrench language_cell_2_9_2 j'aurai aiméFrench language_cell_2_9_3 nous aurons aiméFrench language_cell_2_9_4 j'avais aiméFrench language_cell_2_9_5 nous avions aiméFrench language_cell_2_9_6 j'eus aiméFrench language_cell_2_9_7 nous eûmes aiméFrench language_cell_2_9_8
2nd PersonFrench language_cell_2_10_0 tu aimerasFrench language_cell_2_10_1 vous aimerezFrench language_cell_2_10_2 tu auras aiméFrench language_cell_2_10_3 vous aurez aiméFrench language_cell_2_10_4 tu avais aiméFrench language_cell_2_10_5 vous aviez aiméFrench language_cell_2_10_6 tu eus aiméFrench language_cell_2_10_7 vous eûtes aiméFrench language_cell_2_10_8
3rd PersonFrench language_cell_2_11_0 il/elle aimeraFrench language_cell_2_11_1 ils/elles aimerontFrench language_cell_2_11_2 il/elle aura aiméFrench language_cell_2_11_3 ils/elles auront aiméFrench language_cell_2_11_4 il/elle avait aiméFrench language_cell_2_11_5 ils/elles avaient aiméFrench language_cell_2_11_6 il/elle eut aiméFrench language_cell_2_11_7 ils/elles eurent aiméFrench language_cell_2_11_8
Subjunctive (Subjonctif) French language_section_30

The subjunctive mood only includes four of the tense-aspect forms found in the indicative: present (présent), simple past (passé composé), past imperfective (imparfait), and pluperfect (plus-que-parfait). French language_sentence_246

Within the subjunctive mood, the passé composé and plus-que-parfait use auxiliary verbs in their forms. French language_sentence_247

French language_table_general_3

SubjonctifFrench language_header_cell_3_0_0
French language_cell_3_1_0 PrésentFrench language_cell_3_1_1 ImparfaitFrench language_cell_3_1_3 Passé composéFrench language_cell_3_1_5 Plus-que-parfaitFrench language_cell_3_1_7
French language_cell_3_2_0 SingularFrench language_cell_3_2_1 PluralFrench language_cell_3_2_2 SingularFrench language_cell_3_2_3 PluralFrench language_cell_3_2_4 SingularFrench language_cell_3_2_5 PluralFrench language_cell_3_2_6 SingularFrench language_cell_3_2_7 PluralFrench language_cell_3_2_8
1st PersonFrench language_cell_3_3_0 j'aimeFrench language_cell_3_3_1 nous aimionsFrench language_cell_3_3_2 j'aimasseFrench language_cell_3_3_3 nous aimassionsFrench language_cell_3_3_4 j'aie aiméFrench language_cell_3_3_5 nous ayons aiméFrench language_cell_3_3_6 j'eusse aiméFrench language_cell_3_3_7 nous eussions aiméFrench language_cell_3_3_8
2nd PersonFrench language_cell_3_4_0 tu aimesFrench language_cell_3_4_1 vous aimiezFrench language_cell_3_4_2 tu aimassesFrench language_cell_3_4_3 vous aimassiezFrench language_cell_3_4_4 tu aies aiméFrench language_cell_3_4_5 vous ayez aiméFrench language_cell_3_4_6 tu eusses aiméFrench language_cell_3_4_7 vous eussiez aiméFrench language_cell_3_4_8
3rd PersonFrench language_cell_3_5_0 il/elle aimeFrench language_cell_3_5_1 ils/elles aimentFrench language_cell_3_5_2 il/elle aimâtFrench language_cell_3_5_3 ils/elles aimassentFrench language_cell_3_5_4 il/elle ait aiméFrench language_cell_3_5_5 ils/elles aient aiméFrench language_cell_3_5_6 il/elle eût aiméFrench language_cell_3_5_7 ils/elles eussent aiméFrench language_cell_3_5_8
Imperative (Imperatif) French language_section_31

The imperative is used in the present tense (with the exception of a few instances where it is used in the perfect tense). French language_sentence_248

The imperative is used to give commands to you (tu), we/us (nous), and plural you (vous). French language_sentence_249

French language_table_general_4

ImperatifFrench language_header_cell_4_0_0 French language_header_cell_4_0_2
French language_cell_4_1_0 PrésentFrench language_cell_4_1_1
French language_cell_4_2_0 SingularFrench language_cell_4_2_1 PluralFrench language_cell_4_2_2
1st PersonFrench language_cell_4_3_0 French language_cell_4_3_1 aimonsFrench language_cell_4_3_2
2nd PersonFrench language_cell_4_4_0 aimeFrench language_cell_4_4_1 aimezFrench language_cell_4_4_2
Conditional (Conditionnel) French language_section_32

The conditional makes use of the present (présent) and the past (passé). French language_sentence_250

The passé uses auxiliary verbs in its forms. French language_sentence_251

French language_table_general_5

ConditionnelFrench language_header_cell_5_0_0
French language_cell_5_1_0 PrésentFrench language_cell_5_1_1 PasséFrench language_cell_5_1_3
French language_cell_5_2_0 SingularFrench language_cell_5_2_1 PluralFrench language_cell_5_2_2 SingularFrench language_cell_5_2_3 PluralFrench language_cell_5_2_4
1st PersonFrench language_cell_5_3_0 j'aimeraisFrench language_cell_5_3_1 nous aimerionsFrench language_cell_5_3_2 j'aurais aiméFrench language_cell_5_3_3 nous aurions aiméFrench language_cell_5_3_4
2nd PersonFrench language_cell_5_4_0 tu aimeraisFrench language_cell_5_4_1 vous aimeriezFrench language_cell_5_4_2 tu aurais aiméFrench language_cell_5_4_3 vous auriez aiméFrench language_cell_5_4_4
3rd PersonFrench language_cell_5_5_0 il/elle aimeraitFrench language_cell_5_5_1 ils/elles aimeraientFrench language_cell_5_5_2 il/elle aurait aiméFrench language_cell_5_5_3 ils/elles auraient aiméFrench language_cell_5_5_4

Voice French language_section_33

French uses both the active voice and the passive voice. French language_sentence_252

The active voice is unmarked while the passive voice is formed by using a form of verb être ("to be") and the past participle. French language_sentence_253

Example of the active voice: French language_sentence_254

French language_unordered_list_5

  • "Elle aime le chien." She loves the dog.French language_item_5_35
  • "Marc a conduit la voiture." Marc drove the car.French language_item_5_36

Example of the passive voice: French language_sentence_255

French language_unordered_list_6

  • "Le chien est aimé par elle." The dog is loved by her.French language_item_6_37
  • "La voiture était conduite par Marc." The car was driven by Marc.French language_item_6_38

Syntax French language_section_34

Word order French language_section_35

French declarative word order is subject–verb–object although a pronoun object precedes the verb. French language_sentence_256

Some types of sentences allow for or require different word orders, in particular inversion of the subject and verb, as in "Parlez-vous français ?" French language_sentence_257

when asking a question rather than "Vous parlez français ?" French language_sentence_258

Both formulations are used, and carry a rising inflection on the last word. French language_sentence_259

The literal English translations are "Do you speak French?" French language_sentence_260

and "You speak French? French language_sentence_261

", respectively. French language_sentence_262

To avoid inversion while asking a question, "Est-ce que" (literally "is it that") may be placed at the beginning of the sentence. French language_sentence_263

"Parlez-vous français ?" French language_sentence_264

may become "Est-ce que vous parlez français ?" French language_sentence_265

French also uses verb–object–subject (VOS) and object–subject–verb (OSV) word order. French language_sentence_266

OSV word order is not used often and VOS is reserved for formal writings. French language_sentence_267

Vocabulary French language_section_36

The majority of French words derive from Vulgar Latin or were constructed from Latin or Greek roots. French language_sentence_268

In many cases, a single etymological root appears in French in a "popular" or native form, inherited from Vulgar Latin, and a learned form, borrowed later from Classical Latin. French language_sentence_269

The following pairs consist of a native noun and a learned adjective: French language_sentence_270

French language_unordered_list_7

  • brother: / from Latin /French language_item_7_39
  • finger: / from Latin /French language_item_7_40
  • faith: / from Latin /French language_item_7_41
  • eye: / from Latin /French language_item_7_42

However, a historical tendency to Gallicise Latin roots can be identified, whereas English conversely leans towards a more direct incorporation of the Latin: French language_sentence_271

French language_unordered_list_8

  • / radiation from LatinFrench language_item_8_43
  • / extinguish from LatinFrench language_item_8_44
  • / nucleus from LatinFrench language_item_8_45
  • / insolation from LatinFrench language_item_8_46

There are also noun-noun and adjective-adjective pairs: French language_sentence_272

French language_unordered_list_9

  • thing/cause: / from LatinFrench language_item_9_47
  • cold: / from LatinFrench language_item_9_48

It can be difficult to identify the Latin source of native French words because in the evolution from Vulgar Latin, unstressed syllables were severely reduced and the remaining vowels and consonants underwent significant modifications. French language_sentence_273

More recently the linguistic policy of the French language academies of France and Quebec has been to provide French equivalents to (mainly English) imported words, either by using existing vocabulary, extending its meaning or deriving a new word according to French morphological rules. French language_sentence_274

The result is often two (or more) co-existing terms for describing the same phenomenon. French language_sentence_275

French language_unordered_list_10

  • mercatique / marketingFrench language_item_10_49
  • finance fantôme / shadow bankingFrench language_item_10_50
  • bloc-notes / notepadFrench language_item_10_51
  • ailière / wingsuitFrench language_item_10_52
  • tiers-lieu / coworkingFrench language_item_10_53

It is estimated that 12% (4,200) of common French words found in a typical dictionary such as the Petit Larousse or Micro-Robert Plus (35,000 words) are of foreign origin (where Greek and Latin learned words are not seen as foreign). French language_sentence_276

About 25% (1,054) of these foreign words come from English and are fairly recent borrowings. French language_sentence_277

The others are some 707 words from Italian, 550 from ancient Germanic languages, 481 from other Gallo-Romance languages, 215 from Arabic, 164 from German, 160 from Celtic languages, 159 from Spanish, 153 from Dutch, 112 from Persian and Sanskrit, 101 from Native American languages, 89 from other Asian languages, 56 from other Afro-Asiatic languages, 55 from Balto-Slavic languages, 10 from Basque and 144 (about 3%) from other languages. French language_sentence_278

One study analyzing the degree of differentiation of Romance languages in comparison to Latin estimated that among the languages analyzed French has the greatest distance from Latin. French language_sentence_279

Lexical similarity is 89% with Italian, 80% with Sardinian, 78% with Rhaeto-Romance, and 75% with Romanian, Spanish and Portuguese. French language_sentence_280

Numerals French language_section_37

The French counting system is partially vigesimal: twenty (vingt) is used as a base number in the names of numbers from 70 to 99. French language_sentence_281

The French word for 80 is quatre-vingts, literally "four twenties", and the word for 75 is soixante-quinze, literally "sixty-fifteen". French language_sentence_282

This reform arose after the French Revolution to unify the counting systems (mostly vigesimal near the coast, because of Celtic (via Breton) and Viking influences. French language_sentence_283

This system is comparable to the archaic English use of score, as in "fourscore and seven" (87), or "threescore and ten" (70). French language_sentence_284

In Old French (during the Middle Ages), all numbers from 30 to 99 could be said in either base 10 or base 20, e.g. vint et doze (twenty and twelve) for 32, dous vinz et diz (two twenties and ten) for 50, uitante for 80, or nonante for 90. French language_sentence_285

Belgian French, Swiss French, Aostan French and the French used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi are different in this respect. French language_sentence_286

In the French spoken in these places, 70 and 90 are septante and nonante. French language_sentence_287

In Switzerland, depending on the local dialect, 80 can be quatre-vingts (Geneva, Neuchâtel, Jura) or huitante (Vaud, Valais, Fribourg). French language_sentence_288

Octante had been used in Switzerland in the past, but is now considered archaic, while in the Aosta Valley 80 is huitante. French language_sentence_289

In Belgium and in its former African colonies, however, quatre-vingts is universally used. French language_sentence_290

French, like most European languages, uses a space to separate thousands. French language_sentence_291

The comma (French: virgule) is used in French numbers as a decimal point, i.e. "2,5" instead of "2.5". French language_sentence_292

In the case of currencies, the currency markers are substituted for decimal point, i.e. "5$7" for "5 dollars and 7 cents". French language_sentence_293

See also French language_section_38

French language_unordered_list_11


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French language.