French % shared words with English?

I’ve heard people say anywhere between 30-60% of words are shared between English and French. Is this true? If it is, does that include only words that are the same or very very similar, like ‘exceptionelle’ and ‘politique’ or does it include words that aren’t strictly the same but are very easy to guess, like ‘porte’, ‘portait’, ‘crosses’ and ‘terre’?

I was thinking that if it didn’t include the second lot of words, then French and English would actually share a huge, monstrous amount of words if these were included (and i believe they should be).

Can anyone clear this up? I’m finding French quite easy just because of how i can link the words together (eg, to me, ‘porte’ makes sense because a door ports you between two rooms) and maybe this would give other learners a lot of encouragement to discover a lot of it is easily recognisable.

I quote from this page (The Grammarphobia Blog: Why is English a Germanic language?):
"Where exactly does our modern vocabulary come from? The website AskOxford cites a computerized analysis of the roughly 80,000 words in the old third edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.

The study, published in 1973, offered this breakdown of sources: Latin, 28.34 percent; French, 28.3 percent; Old and Middle English, Old Norse, and Dutch, 25 percent; Greek 5.32 percent; no etymology given, 4.03 percent; derived from proper names, 3.28 percent; all other languages, less than 1 percent."

I haven’t been able to find the original study yet, so take these numbers with caution.
Notice that:
a) The vast majority of words coming from Latin are also shared with French, so you can add up both types if you’re interested in shared vocabulary. Ditto for Greek. Therefore, these statistics confirm what you had heard.
b) These numbers are based on the “origin” of the word, so they certainly include not-identical words and words with different but related meanings such as those you mention (porte, croiser, …).

Wikipedia also cites that same study and provides the same statistics, with a footnote referencing the original work:

So really anywhere from 60-70%, good stuff. No wonder i’m finding it so easy!

It seems so :).
Take into account that some words coming from a shared root may not help you to learn French. One example
English “noise” comes from medieval French (and eventually from Latin “nausea”). It was a rather frequent word back then, with a variety of meanings related to something unpleasant or distracting, including “noise” itself.
Therefore, “noise” is counted among words with a French origin but it doesn’t exist in modern French! So it’s not auseful cognate. There are other examples like that but you can still leverage your English vocabulary to learn French words in many cases.

The word ‘noise’ does exist…it means trouble or quarrel. Actually i just saw it today on the text i’m reading :slight_smile:

Yes, you’re right, my mistake :slight_smile:

yes that’s true but also french has adopted many many english words recently but you haveto be aware of faux amis words like demander,attendre,assister and other words don’t mean always what they look like to and english speaker .

Yes it’s true. The amazing and interesting story began with Conquerer William and the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and even before there was some influence to English language by French. Through out the centuries there were influences in different degrees.

I have been speaking French fluent for years. Therefore the French language has an enormous impact on my understanding and learning of the english language. This is especialy truth for the vocabulary but for the grammar as well.

I think it is the same for english speakers learning French.

There is less similarity in the beginning but the more you progress the more you will appreciate the fact to know the other language. There is a historical reason to that fact.

Why does the english language have often two words for more or less the same thing or why are there a lot of synonyms?

When William the Conqueror became king of England, French took over as the language of the court, administration, government, culture (literature, art etc.), Later on there were other influences.

Of course mostly Latin and Greek as well and other languages are present in english language, too, There is a huge amount of information on the web about this interesting theme,

Although the fact speaking French helps me a lot, there are some tricky things to handle with (and I am not the only one).

The pronociation is different in english. Often words are formal and they are informal in the other language.
There are false friends, and words they are partially false friends and others have quite an opposite meaning.
Somtimes there are small difference in the meaning.

I will maybe share some examples in an other post or thread since I am involved and interested for a long time in the matter. For several weeks I’ve been reading the book “Honni soit qui mal y pense” from the author Henriette Walter. It’s an exiting story about the neighborhood and friendship between French and English language.

For advanced French speakers:
Honni soit qui mal y pense, l’incroyable histoire d’amour entre le français et l’anglais by Henriette Walter.

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Wow very interesting, especially the bit about synonyms. I find, living in France, that the French are very precise compared to the English. If you use the slightly wrong word they tend to just accept that that word is what you meant to say and it can cause a lot of confusion.

On my reading program i often have to give a simple word 6 or 7 different meanings because the French language has 1 way of expressing what English might use half a dozen words to express.

Yes, the French have a particularly approach to foreign languages. I think that is also due to the fact French has been controlled from Paris for centuries, I would say a centralistic language supervisor.
I am sometimes told: “o.k., but here we are in France” when pronouncing a typical German or English name or expression the way it is spelt in German or English, especially when I insist on it. :slight_smile:

“…has 1 way of expressing what English might use half a dozen…”
Be careful, that is because of the context. You mostly get in every language several words when looking up a word in a dictionary.

She washes his clothes. / Elle lave ses vétements.
He was washed away by the water. / Il a été emporté par l’eau.
To be washed on the shore / être rejeté sur le rivage.

In these examples you can use for 1 word in English three or more words in French depending on the context or on your choice.

That does not mean French has a larger vocabulary. On the contrary as you said the English vocabulary is of a much larger extent than the German or French vocabulary is.

These is due to the fact English has taken a lot of words from French, Latin and others and also has its own vocabulary.