What are the best English-French dictionaries?
French is the international language of business, spoken worldwide by hundreds of millions of people. Even if you don’t live in a French-speaking country, more than 10,000 English words come from French. In fact, many common words like menu, café, and picnic are French. But if you want to be fluent, you’ll need the help of the best English-French dictionary.
If speaking fluently on the go is your goal, try the Larousse Pocket French-English/English-French dictionary. This compact book contains over 180,000 words, phrases and translations, plus context clues and grammar help.
What to know before buying an English-French dictionary
Absolute beginners will need a very different English-French dictionary than those who have studied French for a while. More comprehensive dictionaries can be intimidating for beginners, and beginner dictionaries can be too basic for those who are experienced.
When learning another language, it is important to choose the dictionary that matches your language learning goals. Whether you want to learn basic conversation, speaking fluently, or just picking up a few phrases to get by on vacation, select a dictionary designed for the purpose.
Dictionaries are available in several formats.
- Electronic dictionaries: These can pack a variety of features into a small package. Some also contain encyclopedias and thesauri. But they are power dependent and need backup batteries or an outlet to recharge. You may also need to download a new version as the language evolves.
- Applications: Applications have the advantage of being customizable and interactive. They have many of the same features as an electronic dictionary and can be easily updated. However, you will need to keep your phone charged, and if your app relies on an internet signal, it may not be useful in areas with unreliable connectivity.
- To print: Printed dictionaries are old school and reliable. They are available in travel size and as a larger reference book to use at home. The downside is that when the language changes, you’ll need to replace the book to stay current.
What to look for in a quality English-French dictionary
The audio options are a great way to improve your pronunciation. Search for audio content with native French speakers.
Definitions should be clear and easy to understand. The most basic dictionaries also include pronunciation guides for each word and a sample sentence for context.
Grammar guides help you better understand how a language is constructed. Over time, it will also help you train your ears to translate during a conversation. Look for grammar guides that explain basic sentence construction and language rules.
If your goal is survival French, sample conversations are crucial. It can be ordering in a restaurant, asking directions or introducing yourself.
Illustrations may seem elementary in an English-French dictionary for adults, but they can be life-saving for visual learners. These can also help jump-start vocabulary acquisition.
How much you can expect to spend on an English-French dictionary
Depending on size and features, expect to spend $7-50 for an English-French dictionary.
English-French Dictionary FAQ
Is French an important language to learn?
A. In addition to being the language of love, French is also recognized as one of the main international languages of business. If you frequently travel to French-speaking countries for work, it’s wise to learn at least a few basics.
Is it possible to learn French on your own?
A. Although conversation practice is key to mastering a language, it is possible to learn French on your own.
Find a conversation partner if you can, but if not, try these tips for independent language learning:
- Guided Practice, written exercises in French.
- Create your own English to French flash cardsand study them every day.
- Listen to French music (and write your translation).
- Watch Television and movies in French (without subtitles).
- Watch the news in French.
- Change the your phone settings in French.
- play french language games on your phone.
- Lily classic french literature (or colloquial English books translated into French).
- Discover French culture through food.
What is the best English-French dictionary to buy?
Best English to French Dictionary
Larousse Pocket French-English/English-French Dictionary
What do you want to know: This pocket dictionary is practical and ideal for travelling.
What you will love: This pint-sized paperback book contains hundreds of thousands of words, phrases and translations; examples of use; abbreviations, acronyms and proper names; and verb conjugations.
What you should consider: It’s a little thick to carry in a pocket but fits well in a backpack or purse.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
Best English-French dictionary for money
Merriam-Webster French-English Dictionary
What do you want to know: This is a complete and easy to use dictionary by a trusted name in reference materials.
What you will love: It has 80,000 entries with 100,000 translations. It provides context clues for definitions and also includes French grammar, verb conjugations, French abbreviations and numbers. This volume also includes Canadian French.
What you should consider: Some users found the small font difficult to read.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Collins Robert Complete French Dictionary
What do you want to know: Choose this comprehensive dictionary when you’re ready to get serious about learning French.
What you will love: Recent revisions to these 310,000 words, meanings, and phrases and 500,000 translations include updating changes to the Internet language, economy, and environment. Entries are longer to provide context and to help you understand French culture. It comes with a “Language in use” to help learn conversational French.
What you should consider: It’s more expensive than many other options, and its size means it’s not portable.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck written for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their buying decisions, saving them time and money.
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