French influences in the English Language

French has a TON of influence in English! Although English is a Germanic language (coming from the same language family as German), it contains at least 10,000 words of French origin. This is largely because Britain was conquered by the French-speaking Normans in 1066 (otherwise known as The Norman Conquest), and Britain continued to speak French until 1399 when English (Middle English, to be exact) became the language of Britain again.

Just think of how many French words and phrases Americans use all the time!

Here are some examples:

coup de gras

tour de force

en lieu of

a propo

vis a vis



piece de resistance


bon vivant*

*information is from



In addition, there were many French people in North America before the United States was formed. In fact, there was a large group of French people called the Acadians (which is where the word, "cajun" comes from) in Quebec and in the Southern United States whose influence remains strong in these areas. And remember the Lousiana Purchase?

Speaking of "cajun," "cajun" is a "Creole" language. That means that a couple of languages got mixed together and changed around a bit and the resulting mix is used as the mother and primary language of a group of people. A Creole is a whole language in itself. This is different from a Pidgin form of a language, which is only a sort of half and half language used to communicate between two groups who don't speak each others' language. A Pidgin form of language is usually an incomplete language.*

*Info from


Wikipedia - a list of French phrases used by English speakers

Click here to see what Acadian French looks like (spoken in Lousiana!)

Grammar of Louisiana Creole

History of English with Info on its French influences

More about the History of English

Pidgins and Creoles

How a Pidgin or a Creole develops


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