Rosetta Stone Inc.

12/01/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/01/2021 12:10

The Essentials: How to Get by in French

Reading Time: 4minutes

Are you eager to learn French, but aren't sure where to start? You came to the right place. Rosetta Stone's team of language experts knows exactly what you need to succeed! In this French essentials guide, you'll find almost everything a Rosetta Stone learner masters in their first unit.

With each Rosetta Stone lesson, you'll pick up new vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation skills through a carefully structured Dynamic Immersion environment. For this guide, French elements are listed in order of utility-words that fall into the first three categories are crucial to building a sentence!

  • Activities
  • People
  • Verb tenses
  • Things
  • Adjectives
  • Numbers
  • Phrases

Check out French fundamentals below, or head over to our subscription page to find a plan that works for you!

Activities

When learning a language, you'll want to be able to talk about what people are up to. The essential verbs to learn in French are ones that you use every day.

English French
To read lire
To write écrire
To drink boire
To eat manger
To watch regarder
To swim nager
To run courir
To have avoir
To be être
To wear porter

People

Why are you learning French? To connect with other people, of course! There are many ways to refer to a person-by their profession, their style, their sense of humor-but the basics are easy to remember and help you communicate what you need to in a short amount of time.

Articles

A quick note about nouns: In French, nouns are either masculine or feminine, including those that wouldn't typically have a gender (like a chair or table). It's important to remember that the article (a, an, the, this) preceding the noun changes depending on its gender. Feel free to revisit this note when you reach the "Things" section!

English French (Masculine) French (Feminine)
a, an Un Une
the Le La
this Ce Cette

Names

English French (Singular) French (Plural)
A girl Une fille Les filles
A boy Un garçon Les garçons
A woman Une femme Les femmes
A man Un homme Les hommes

Pronouns

Singular Plural
First Person Je Nous
Second Person Tu (informal) or vous (formal) Vous
Third Person Il / Elle Ils / Elles

Verb tenses

In French, most verbs end in the following three letters: "er", "ir", and "re".

When conjugated, each verb type has slightly different endings that attach to the root verb.

When learning French with Rosetta Stone, context clues that match words with images help reinforce the nuances of each verb tense. This reliance on context and reasoning helps you build a deeper, more enduring understanding of the language that goes far beyond rote memorization.

The endings for common verbs in the present tense-which gives you the ability to speak about what's happening now-are listed below.

Present

Pronouns (English) Pronouns (French) -er -ir -re
I Je -e -is -s
You Tu -es -is -s
He/she/it Il -e -it
We Nous -ons -issons -ons
You (plural) Vous -ez -issez -ez
They Ils/elles -ent -issent -ent

Using the present tense endings above, this is what the verb "nager" ("to swim") looks like when conjugated:

Je nage Nous nageons
Tu nages Vous nagez
Il/Elle nage Ils/elles nagent

Irregular Verbs

Some verbs have irregular endings, which means that their conjugated forms don't follow the verb ending patterns above and/or their roots change.

Aller (to go), avoir (to have), and être (to be) are three common irregular verbs in French. Learn these, and you'll feel even more confident as you master the basics.

Aller (to go)

First Person Second Person
Je vais Nous allons
Tu vas Vous allez
Il/Elle va Ils/elles vont

Avoir (to have)

First Person Second Person
J'ai Nous avons
Tu as Vous avez
Il/Elle a Ils/Elles ont

Être (to be)

First Person Second Person
Je suis Nous sommes
Tu es Vous êtes
Il/Elle est Ils/Elles sont

Things

There are so many "things" out there! But don't be intimidated. From food and furniture to sports and the great outdoors, cognate words-or words that look and mean the same thing in two languages-are plentiful. They can help you navigate conversations and pick up new phrases in the process.

The list of items below is a small sample of what you'd learn in Unit 1 of Rosetta Stone's French edition.

Food

English French
Egg Un oeuf
Bread Un pain
Apple Une pomme
Bowl Un bol
Cup Une tasse

Items

English French
A bed Un lit
A chair Une chaise
A table Une table
A cell phone Un téléphone cellulaire
A key Une clé
A flower Une fleur
A bicycle Une bicyclette
A newspaper Un journal
A book U​​n livre
A ball Un ballon

Adjectives

When learning and tackling French adjectives, there are a few key grammatical rules to keep in mind:

  • Adjectives typically follow the noun they're describing
  • Adjectives agree with the noun in gender and in number. For singular feminine nouns, add -e, for plural feminine nouns, add -es, and for masculine plural nouns, add -s.

Here are some examples:

A black cat: Un chat noir.

A black shirt: Une chemise noire.

Start by learning colors in French, and then branch out to more whimsical descriptors.

Colors

English French
Red Rouge
Orange Orange
Yellow Jaune
Green Vert
Blue Bleu
Purple Violet / Violette
Pink Rose
Black Noir / Noire
White Blanc / Blanche

Numbers and phrases

You'll need to know your numbers to discuss quantities, tell time, or inquire about costs. Want to go even further? This guide will help you learn numbers 1-100 in French.

Numbers

English French
One Un
Two Deux
Three Trois
Four Quatre
Five Cinq
Six Six
Seven Sept
Eight Huit
Nine Neuf
Ten Dix

Phrases

And finally, a handful of useful phrases can help you get to where you need to go!

English French Example
There is… Il y a… Il y a un livre. (There is a book).
How much? How many? Combien? Combien ça coûte? (How much does it cost?)
Where is it? Où est-ce? Où est le livre? (Where is the book?)
What is it? Qu'est-ce que c'est? Quel est le livre? (What is the book?)
What time is it? Quelle heure est-il? À quelle heure est le concert?(What time is the concert?)

Gain a deeper understanding

Now that you've had a look at the essentials, take some time to consider what you want your language learning journey to look like. Will you achieve your French dreams by learning in a traditional classroom setting or branching out on your own?

Whatever environment you choose, Rosetta Stone can help you meet your French learning goals and speak confidently from the very first lesson. You'll learn through Dynamic Immersion, and have opportunities to perfect your accent every step of the way. Our courses are built by language learning experts who have refined what and how you learn to ensure you build fluency fast.

Start learning French today at rosettastone.com!