7 Things to Know About Bastille

BastilleFor Francophiles, the word "Bastille" is likely to conjure up memories (or dreams) of fireworks and military parades, because the idea of la Bastille is inherently linked to 14 July - at least for English speakers. Chez les Français, not so much. Here are 7 things you should know about la Bastille: the holiday, the prison, and the word itself.

A- Prefix

French prefix a-
The French prefix a- is added to adjectives and nouns to create their antonyms; it's sometimes called the "alpha privative" (a privatif). The most common English equivalents are a- and non-.

   

Airport

French airport vocabulary
If there's anything worse than having to spend time at the airport, it's having to spend time at the airport when you don't speak the local language. Sure, most airport employees speak another language or two, but you'll still be better off if you have these key words and phrases in your pocket. Bon voyage !

   

   

Aphereses

French aphereses
A few dozen French words have a shortened form called an apheresis or aphaeresis, which is created by dropping one or more syllables at the beginning of the word. Some of these are further modified by adding an extra sound to the end.

   

Apocopes

French apocopes
Many French nouns and adjectives have shortened forms called apocopes, which are created by dropping one or more syllables at the end of the word. Some of these are further modified by adding o to the end.

   

Approximate Numbers

Approximate French numbers
Approximate numbers are very useful for talking about generalities, making estimates, and just flat-out guessing. English only has one approximate number, content to use "about" in front of cardinal numbers any time a guess is required. In contrast, French has about a dozen approximate numbers.

   

Baby Talk

French baby talk
French has quite a bit of "baby talk" or "kiddie speak" - words and expressions which are typically used by children or when talking to children. Even if you don't talk to kids in French, this informal language is important to recognize, as baby talk can also be found in jokes and in conversations with friends.

   

Beach and Pool

Beach and pool - French vocabulary
There's nothing like a big body of water to escape hot weather. Learn all the French vocabulary you'll need to enjoy a beach or pool.

   

Boating

French boating terms
Ready to put your sea legs to work? Here's a bunch of French vocab related to boating, including types of boats, onboard directions, and useful verbs.