Are you afraid that learning French will be hard?
Au contraire, mon frère!
You know more French then you think simply because you speak English.
I would wager you knew what au contraire! meant.
You thought on the contrary, right?
According to many sources, approximately 40 – 50% of all English words have a French origin.
The hardest part isn’t so much the words, but the pronunciation. (I’ll teach you a few tricks in a later post).
This site has a list of the mostly commonly used words that are of French origin that we use in English. Check it out!
Following are a handful of my favorites:
- À la (…) In the manner of/in the style of (…)
- Blasé Unimpressed with something because of overfamiliarity, jaded
- Carte blanche Unlimited authority; literally “white card” (i.e. blank cheque)
- Crème de la crème Best of the best, “cream of the cream,” used to describe highly skilled people or objets. A synonymous expression in French is “fin du fin”
- Debacle An event or enterprise that ends suddenly and disastrous or humiliating consequences.
- Déjà vu “Already seen”: an impression or illusion of having seen or experienced something before.
- En route On the way
- Façade The front view of an edifice (from the Italian facciata, or face); a fake persona, as in “putting on a façade” (the ç is pronounced like an s)
- Fait accompli Literally – accomplished fact; something that has already happened and is thus unlikely to be reversed, a done deal
- Faux pas “False step”: violation of accepted, although unwritten, social rules
- Gaffe Blunder
- Gauche Tactless, does not mean “left-handed” (which translates in French as “gaucher”), but does mean “left”
- Haute cuisine Upmarket gastronomy; literally “high cooking.”
- Joie de vivre “Joy of life/living”
- Laissez-faire “Let do”; often used within the context of economic policy or political philosophy, meaning leaving alone, or non-interference
- Panache Verve; flamboyance
- Raison d’être “Reason for being”: justification or purpose of existence
- Reconnaissance Scouting
- Savoir-faire Literally “know how to do”; to respond appropriately to any situation
- Tête-à-tête “Head to head”; an intimate get-together or private conversation between two people
- Touché Acknowledgment of an effective counterpoint; literally “touched” or “hit!”
- Voilà! Literally “see there”; in French it can mean simply “there it is”; in English it is generally restricted to a triumphant revelation
What’s your favorite one to use?