French-speaking Countries

We explain which countries speak French and what loanwords of that language are in Spanish. In addition, we tell you the history of the French language.

French-speaking countries
There are around 300 million French speakers in the world.

What countries speak French?

The French It is a Romance language of European origin, from northern France and of which there are around 300 million speakers in the world, including native speakers, speakers for work and speakers as a second language. It is the official language of about 25 countries in the world and is the fourth most spoken language on the European continent.

Like other languages ​​of European origin, French experienced great expansion and influence during the time of colonialism, after being implemented in different regions of Africa, America and Asia. This linguistic expansion also allowed the emergence of numerous variants and dialects, often merged with other local languages, such as created himthe cajun and Franco-Guyanese.

On the other hand, there are historical variants typical of the European region, such as Northern French, Southern French, Belgian French, Swiss French and Valle d’Aosta French (influenced by Franco-Provençal).

See also: Countries that speak Spanish

History of the French language

What we call France today was once home to various Celtic cultures. that they spoke different languages ​​and lacked writing, and that between 58 and 51 a. C. were conquered by the Romans, who imposed Latin as their language.

The Romans baptized this new province of their empire as Gaul, but they lost it during their political and military decline, at the hands of new Germanic peoples that settled in it: the Franks to the north and the Visigoths to the south.

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Two local variants of Latin arose from this ethnic and language mix.: the northern or Provençal variant (and which would later be French), and the southern or Occitan variant. The first was known as langue d’oil (“language of the oil) and to the south as langue d’oc (“language of the oc”), since those were their respective ways of saying “yes”.

Provençal was consolidated as a local language between the 6th and 9th centuries, and eventually became the so-called Old French., around the 11th century, despite the fact that it was not really a single language spoken in all the territories north of the Loire River, but rather a very similar set of dialects. Subsequently, around the fourteenth century, the so-called Middle French arose, transition stage towards the modern language that culminated around the 18th century.

At the time of the French Revolution, in 1789, it is estimated that barely a quarter of the population of France spoke French; the rest used other regional languages ​​(patois), many from Occitan. Then the unification of the language was proposed in a single French language that would serve to communicate to all the peoplework carried out by different French intellectuals (hence why it is said to be an “academic” language), such as Charles Maurice de Talleyrand and Jules Ferry.

A) Yes, by the late 19th century, modern French was the norm in the French public sphereand in the 20th century the so-called patois They were progressively discredited and abandoned, in favor of the new unified cultured norm.

French features

The French language is characterized by the following:

  • It is the eighth most spoken language in the worldwith around 235 million daily speakers, of which around 150 million are native speakers.
  • It is a Romance language, that is, derived from spoken Latin (Vulgar Latin), belonging to the group of Gallo-Romance or Gallo-Romance, typical of northern France, northern Italy and Switzerland. These include French, Catalan and Lombard, among others.
  • Its alphabet coincides with the 26 letters of the modern Latin alphabet, to which are added the cedilla (ç), two vowel ligatures (æ and œ) and 13 accented vowels. with three types of tilde: grave (à, è, ù), acute (é) and circumflex (â, ê, î, ô, û), in addition to the diaeresis (ë, ï, ü, ÿ). French spelling is one of the most complicated among the Romance languages.
  • It has a partially vigesimal numeral system.since the twenty (vingt) is used as the base for the numbers 60 through 99.
  • It inherited from its Germanic roots a much more nasal tone. than the rest of the Romance languages.
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Countries where French is spoken

French speaking countries map
The countries in which French is the official language are only a part of the French-speaking countries.

French is spoken in numerous countries, although in different population percentages. In some of them it occupies the status of official language, while in others it is a minority language.

Country % of French-speaking citizens Total French-speaking population Status of the French language
France 95.48% 62,492,900 inhab. Official language
Algeria 69.98% 24,796,000 inhab. minority language
Andorra 5.38% 4,100 inhab. minority language
Belgium 39.71% 4,300,000 inhab. co-official language
Benin 8.02% 739,000 inhab. Official language
Burkina Faso 4.26% 695,000 inhab. co-official language
Burundi 4.57% 390,000 inhab. co-official language
Cameroon 14.78% 2,950,300 inhab. co-official language
Canada 22.63% 7,741,955 inhab. co-official language
Chad 17.20% 1,940,000 inhab. co-official language
comoros 42.49% 312,200 inhab. co-official language
Ivory Coast 59.06% 12,740,000 inhab. Official language
Democratic Republic of Congo


32,222,000 inhab.

co-official language

djibouti 17.98% 159,800 inhab. co-official language
Equatorial Guinea 14.27% 100,000 inhab. co-official language
Gabon 74.61% 1,120,000 inhab. Official language
Guinea 19.37% 2,000,000 inhab. Official language
Haiti 55.59% 5,664,000 inhab. co-official language
Lebanon 44.98% 1,902,000 minority language
Luxembourg 84.82% 430,000 inhab. co-official language
Madagascar 4.09% 865,000 inhab. co-official language
Mali 7.62% 1,107,000 inhab. Official language
Morocco 32.50% 10,366,000 minority language
Mauritania 4.83% 167,399 inhab. minority language
Monaco 66.08% 23,400 inhab. Official language
Niger 7.92% 1,260,000 inhab. Official language
Rwanda 5.92% 609,000 inhab. co-official language
Senegal 9.09% 1,170,000 inhab. Official language
seychelles 4.62% 4000 inhab. co-official language
Swiss 19.39% 1,509,600 inhab. co-official language
Central African Republic 21.42% 945,000 inhab. co-official language
Republic of Congo 29.67% 1,200,000 inhab. co-official language
Togo 29.49% 2,000,000 inhab. Official language
Tunisia 60.96% 6,360,000 inhab. minority language
Vanuatu 41.31% 99,000 inhab. co-official language
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Linguistic loanwords from French in the Spanish language

In the Spanish language there are loanwords taken from French, called gallicisms. Most of them have to do with additions to the Spanish lexicon, as is the case with the words “menú”, “poster”, “amateur”, “ballet”, “bayonet”, “bloc”, “burocracia”, “cabotage” , “entrecote”, “driver”, “gallop”, “fop” or “luthier”; or with expressions like terrifying child, ahead of the letter either gourmetwhich are used in their original form.

Nevertheless, there are also certain syntactic uses from Frenchas is the case of the constructions: noun + a + verb in the infinitive, as in “problem to solve” or “prize to win”.

Another usage borrowed from French is the so-called how gallicatedthat is, the “that” used as a relative adverb instead of an adverb of time or manner, after a conjugated verb “to be”. For example: “last Sunday was that we arrived” (instead of “when we arrived”) or “How beautiful your wife is” (instead of “how beautiful she is”).

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  • “Countries where French is an official language” on Wikipedia.
  • “Francophonie and French language” at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France.
  • “The little subtleties of the French language” at Campus France.
  • “French language (français)”in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.