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French Cognates

Instantly Learn Thousands of French Words With These Vocabulary Cheat Codes

Cognates are words from two languages that are the same or similar. Because English borrows many words from Latin there are a lot of words that are very similar in English and French.

Many of these follow simple rules based on the word endings that allow you to have a French vocabulary of thousands of words in minutes.


French Cognate Rule 1

Words that end in –al are usually the same in French. However, this rule does not apply to words ending in -ical, which follow a different cognate rule. Words ending in -al are usually adjectives.

Examples
English French
Animal Animal
Central Central
Final Final
Ideal Ideal
International International
Mental Mental
Original Original

French Cognate Rule 2

Words that end in –ance are usually the same in French. These words are often feminine nouns.

Examples
English French
Distance Distance
Arrogance Arrogance
Importance Importance
Intolerance Intolerance
Perseverance Persévérance
Substance Substance
Ambulance Ambulance
Finance Finance

French Cognate Rule 3

Words that end in -ary change to -aire. These words can be either adjectives or nouns.

Examples
English French
Anniversary Anniversaire
Dictionary Dictionnaire
Imaginary Imaginaire
Salary Salaire
Vocabulary Vocabulaire

French Cognate Rule 4

Words ending in -ist change to -iste in French. These words are nouns and they keep the same ending for masculine and feminine.

Examples
English French
Tourist Touriste
Dentist Dentiste
Artist Artiste
Cyclist Cycliste
Pessimist Pessimiste

French Cognate Rule 5

Words that end in -ble are usually the same in French. These verbs are, generally, adjectives.

Examples
English French
Adorable Adorable
Flexible Flexible
Horrible Horrible
Impossible Impossible
Visible Visible

French Cognate Rule 6

Nouns ending in -tion generally have the same ending in French and are feminine nouns.

Examples
English French
Information Information
Conversation Conversation
Tradition Tradition
Station Station
Celebration Célébration

French Cognate Rule 7

Words that end in -ct are usually the same in French and can be nouns or adjectives.

Examples
English French
Correct Correct
Contact Contact
Respect Respect
Direct Direct
Impact Impact

French Cognate Rule 8

Words that end in -ent are usually the same in French. These words can be nouns or adjectives.

Examples
English French
President President
Urgent Urgent
Client Client
Different Different
Monument Monument

French Cognate Rule 9

Words ending in -ical change to -ique, and they are often adjectives.

Examples
English French
Electrical Électrique
Critical Critique
Identical Identique
Practical Pratique
Typical Typique

French Cognate Rule 10

Words ending in -ence have the same ending in French. These words are usually femenine nouns.

Examples
English French
Science Science
Violence Violence
Experience Expérience
Intelligence Intelligence
Patience Patience

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