The Battle of the Languages: French vs....

The Battle of the Languages: French vs. English

by Rochelle C. Pangilinan
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With the popularity of French language streaming shows like “Emily in Paris,” a large number of people who aren’t familiar with the language are considering learning French. And in Canada where French is one of the official languages, along with English, dabbling in French is almost commonplace.

According to Statistics Canada, almost 18 per cent of the Canadian population, or 6.2 million individuals, can speak both English and French fluently. The largest French speaking population can be found in Quebec, where an estimated 1.1 million Canadians are French speakers compared to about 700,000 English speakers.

It can definitely be an advantage to be able to speak and write in both languages. If you’re planning to take up French in the near future, read below on how exactly it weighs against the English language.

Masculine vs. Feminine

In the English language, pronouns are used to differentiate between gender identifications of persons. In the French language, this is the same case. However, in French, one must also learn how to differentiate masculine nouns from feminine nouns when referring to objects. This is especially important because there are articles that are solely used for feminine nouns and masculine nouns.

However, telling whether an object is masculine or feminine doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of guesswork. It all depends on how a word is spelled, and you have to particularly pay attention to how it ends.

If a word ends in -age, -ment, -il, -ail, -eil, -euil, -eau, -eu, -er, -oir, -isme, -ing, -ard, -am, -um, -em, -it, -est, -an, -and, -ent, -in, -int, -om, -ond, -ont, -ème, or ège, then it’s usually masculine. If a word ends in -tion, -sion, -son, -ure, -ude, -ade, -ée, -té, -ière, -euse, -ance, -ence, or -ie, then it’s usually feminine. We say usually because there are exceptions to this rule.


No language is complete without adjectives, and French has a rich vocabulary of adjectives, similar to English. However, while in English the adjective always come before the noun, in French, most adjectives come after the noun.

The adjectives which follow the noun describe colour, shape, or nationality, while the ones which come before the noun are typically those that refer to age, goodness, beauty, or size, as well as those with two syllables or less or ones that pertain to a numerical value. However, as with gender for objects, there are exceptions to the rule.

Forming negative sentences

Forming a negative sentence in French can be tricky especially if you’re used to doing it in English, where all you need to do to negate a verb is to put the negation before it. In French, you’ll need to do a double negation around the verb.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the negative structures go around the conjugated verb only and not the subject pronoun.

While there are major differences between English and French, don’t forget that there are similarities too! There are numerous words that are common in both languages because English was so heavily influenced by French after the Norman invasion of England in 1066. According to some estimates, 40-45% of English vocabulary is shared with French, and examples of these are silhouette, prestige, and chauffeur.

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