Three Reasons French Can be Difficult to Learn

If French is not your first language, it might seem like a difficult language to learn. This might be especially true if your first Robotel language is the Germanic-based English.  And there is a bit of truth to this—French can be difficult for native-English speakers to learn, and here is why:


It is a bit complex but English—a Germanic language—and French—a Romance language—share a common alphabet and that means they do actually share some roots.  You might not even have realized that English shares roots with French more than with any other of the Latin-based languages.  These similarities, though, are a result of the two languages belonging to the Indo-European family, which is a group of languages that evolved following the rule of the first Norman King of England, William Conqueror.


Every native English speaker overlooks subtle pronunciation discrepancies but these odd rules can be confusing when an English speaker tries to learn another language, especially one like French, which doesn’t have the same subtleties.  Consider, for example, the nuances between:

  • Thought and rough and thorough and taut and taught and naught and ought
  • Whether and weather
  • Loser and poser


English-speaking students are not generally taught that words have genders.  As a matter of fact, many native English speakers don’t really learn about this aspect of language until they try to learn another language.  In French, for example, the gender of a word is important, as it influences adjective endings and associated articles and pronouns. Here are some rules that typically help native English speakers learn French language gender rules:

  • Nouns which refer to animals that can only be male will always have a masculine article—a bull (a male cow, for example) is always “le taureau”
  • Similarly, nouns which refer to animals that can only be female will always have a feminine article—a mare (a female horse, for example) is always “la jument”
  • Animals that do not have a gender specific name—like “sheep”—could have either article gender—in this case “le mouton”
  • Places and locations that end in –e are feminine (La Marseille) and places or locations that do not in in –e are masculine (Paris)
    • Speaking of word ending: this is a good rule of thumb for determining the gender of a word. If a work ends in –tion, -sion, -son, or ée it is a feminine word; if a word ends in –ment, -eau, -er, or –ou it is probably masculine
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