Table of Contents
Is French hard to learn, or is it not? How easy is it or how hard is it for foreign learners? You’re in the right place if you’ve been contemplating learning French or if you’re struggling with something and need comfort.
The language has 230 million speakers. Also, it’s a popular language in multi-cultural and international business circles, making it a must-learn for anyone who seeks knowledge about other cultures. It depends on the person’s native language if they find French mildly challenging. We will explain why English-speaking students have an advantage.
In addition, if you’re a native Spanish, Italian, or other Romance language speaker, you’re already at an unfair advantage. Here, I’ll examine what is challenging about French and what makes it easy, and try to give the language a fair try. You can better decide whether French is for you when you know its difficulty.
Is French Hard to Learn for English Speakers?
Native English speakers have trouble pronouncing it. Because French is a multilingual language, it receives more attention than Italian at first.
If some parts of a word are stressed while others are not, this may result in some pieces being insufficiently distinct. Conversely, the French language is not very difficult either. To become fluent in this language is not as difficult as you might think. Identifying the correct way to pronounce English is difficult.
French is Easy in Some Ways
If you compare French to English, it’s not from hardest languages to learn. You won’t find learning French too challenging. The truth is that it’s a language you can become fluent in much faster than you ever imagined. Are you not convinced? Well, let me explain! Scroll down to learn why.
It is a Romance Language
You probably already have a solid working knowledge of English if you’re reading this article. With your advanced knowledge of Latin alphabets or fundamental grammatical patterns, you’re well prepared to learn many difficult things. As long as you are native speaker of a Romance language, you will be lucky (Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian are just some examples)!
French is so similar to Spanish that I read simple Spanish text and understood half of it even before I had an understanding of the language. When you know a Romance language before starting your French studies, you will be able to demonstrate your familiarity with technical terms that you would normally not be expected to be familiar with. This is because Romance languages use very similar terms.
Many English and French Words are Similar
You may have noticed how many French words are present in the English language, but linguists are still arguing about its origin. The list seems endless! According to some estimates, nearly 30 percent of English words have French roots. A certified english to french translator can confirm that.
If you’re learning French, you’ll realize how convenient it is to have access to all this free vocabulary. There is a lot to choose from. French and English share more vocabulary than any other Romance language.
Grammar is Similar in Both Languages
If you’re unfamiliar with French grammar, you may find the order of the words confusing at first. Nevertheless, there are many similarities between English and French grammar. A French sentence consists of a subject, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, a pronoun, and a preposition.
Conjugation is More Easier than You Think
What was the first time you encountered French conjugation? Is it stressful to see all the complicated endings and tenses? It is intimidating to see all the complicated endings and tenses. However, don’t be put off! It will be challenging at first to understand the verb endings, but once you see how most of them behave, it will be easy.
Just by considering “to be” or “to go” in English, you’ll realize that the most common verbs are also the most irregular. Before moving on to the easy ones, you should learn these irregular conjugations. However, at least now you know where the peak is.
What about all the tenses? For the average person to deal with everyday situations in French (and even less for speaking) you only need five tenses. It is mainly literary structures that are complex.
The Tough Parts of Learning French
Here are a few quick and dirty tricks to help you manage the more difficult parts of the French language with ease.
French Pronunciation is Difficult
Beautiful is a word commonly use to describe the French language. You must be able to correctly pronounce the “language of love” to speak it properly. For English speakers, this may be a challenge. Pronunciation in French can be difficult for English speakers.
It is hard for native English speakers to pronounce French at first because there are simply sounds they aren’t familiar with. In general, French stress patterns are more even than English. The emphasis on the words does not differ as much as in English because some words are stressed.
The nasal vowels in French, back of the throat vowels, and silent letters are some of the biggest obstacles to learning French. These problems can be overcome by practicing. The one from the best ways to learn languages quickly is to practice pronunciation and speak it from Day 1.
Words Run Into Each Other
Students of all levels complain about this frequently, including beginners and advanced students. Words run into one another due to something called the “liason”. So, they run into one another. An example is when a consonant ends in one word while a vowel starts in the next.
The two words are combine to enhance the listening experience. Further complicating matters is that it is easy to forget to perform the liaison when it is necessary.
It’s a Nightmare Dealing With the Verbs
Learning verb conjugations is an essential part of learning French. Having never learn another language, you might not be able to conjugate verbs if you speak English. You have to learn how the verbs end depending on who is speaking (me, you, him/her, etc.).
Also, there are no shortcuts. My experience has shown that the best results are obtain by learning lessons the old-fashioned way, rather than trying to find quick loopholes and shortcuts. Learning by repetition, then applying it in the real world.
Students have trouble understanding the gender of nouns when learning French. As a result, some nouns are feminine and are precede with “La” while some are masculine. French does not follow a hard and fast gender rule like Spanish, which tends to end in “a”.
French vs English
Having a command of English will make learning French an easy task. However, some people find the process intimidating. Yes, there are some differences between French and English. You’ll soon learn how to speak fluently with a bit of know-how and practice. To get you start, here is a comparison of French VS English.
A French Noun Has a Gender
The English language is one of the simplest in Europe since all nouns have the same article. There are no gender-neutral English nouns, except for those referring to specific living creatures that do have a gender, such as “hen” and “rooster.” The nouns in French can either be masculine or feminine.
When you are a new learner, you may at first feel as if there is no logical reason for the gender of a certain word: for example, a football is feminine and a handkerchief is masculine. Words with certain endings in French are gendered. You can guess some genders by paying attention to common endings. Men and women construct sentences differently.
The article in each word must correspond to its noun. Similarly, the English word “the” can be masculine or feminine. In addition, other parts of speech, such as relative pronouns and adjectives, must be gender-congruent.
A French Adjective Comes After a Noun
Adjectives appear before nouns when speaking English, something you may not realize. In French, adjectives follow nouns, whereas in English they come before. Whereas in English, when we say “smart boy” in French, one would say the equivalent of “boy smart”
The French Language Has Many False Cognates
There are many common words between French and English, as mentioned earlier. These words are cognates and can be found in both languages. However, not every word with the same sound has the same meaning.
A French word that means “attend” looks very similar to “assist”, and a French word that means “great” looks exactly like “formidable.”. This is known as a false friend or cognate.
Tenses are Used Differently in French
An English speaker uses the present, past, or future tense largely to indicate whether something happened in the past, present, or will occur in the future. French uses tense to convey specific meaning, which is different from English.
The perfect tense is widely use in the professional world, so English speakers aren’t unfamiliar with this. It’s the same in French. However, it’s not just use in professional settings.
How Much Hours Required to Learn
French will be a wonderful experience for you. It’s a very useful foreign language to know because it’s spoken by over 220 million people worldwide. But how long to learn French? We have the answer. For an English speaker to learn French takes 575-600 hours (or 23-24 weeks full time). French, Italian, Spanish, and Scandinavian languages (but not German) share the same characteristic.
Is French Hard to Learn for Beginners?
Yes, the complex grammar and linguistic nuances of French may make it challenging for some beginners to learn. The learning of another European language (or precisely a Romance language) such as Spanish or Portuguese can be especially difficult for those who have never previously studied one. Some sounds in French, such as nasal sounds, the letter “R” or even some silent letters, do not occur in English. Those are silent letters.
Is Italian Easier than French?
English speakers find Italian simpler in several ways as it is one of the easiest languages to learn. The sounds of Italian are less than those of French, and most of them are similar to those of English. Italian grammar might be a little more regular than French, although both are close to being equal in grammar.
It’s easy for a native English speaker to learn French since there are many loan words in English, but these advantages also apply to Italian words, since they share many similarities with French. Last but not least, Italian sounds as it is written, whereas French is spelled very differently.
So, here is the short answer of the question is Italian easier than French? Although some aspects of French are a bit more challenging, the difference is not great. I would say it’s easier to learn Italian than Spanish if everything else is equal.
Ihsan Sharif is a talented writer known for his engaging articles on linguistic topics. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for language, Ihsan brings complex linguistic concepts to life, making them accessible and interesting to a wide audience.