Which English to French dictionaries are best?

French is the international language of business, spoken across the globe by hundreds of millions of people. Even if you don’t live in a French-speaking country, over 10,000 English words come from French. In fact, many common words like menu, café and picnic are French. But if you want to become fluent, you’ll need the help of the best English to French dictionary.

If your goal is fluency on the go, try the Larousse Pocket French-English/English-French Dictionary. This compact book features over 180,000 words, phrases and translations, plus context clues and grammar help.

What to know before you buy an English to French dictionary

Skill level

Absolute beginners will need a very different English to French dictionary than those who have been studying French for any length of time. More extensive dictionaries can be intimidating to beginners, and beginning dictionaries may be too basic for those who are experienced. 

Dictionary focus

When learning another language, it’s important to choose the dictionary that matches your language learning goals. Whether you want to learn basic conversation, become fluent, or simply learn a few phrases to get by on vacation, select a dictionary designed for that purpose.

Dictionary format

Dictionaries are available in multiple formats.

  • Electronic dictionaries: These can pack a variety of features into a small package. Some contain encyclopedias and thesaurus, too. But they rely on power and need either backup batteries or a plug to recharge. You may also need to download a new version as the language evolves.
  • Apps: Apps have the distinct advantage of being customizable and interactive. They have many of the same features as an electronic dictionary and can be updated easily. However, you’ll 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.
  • Print: Print dictionaries are old-school and reliable. They are available in both travel size and as a larger reference book for use at home. The downside of this is that when language changes, you’ll need to replace the book to stay current.

What to look for in a quality English to French dictionary

Audio option

Audio options are an excellent way to improve your pronunciation. Look for audio that features native French speakers.

Clear definitions

Definitions should be clear and easy to understand. The most basic dictionaries also include pronunciation guides for each word and an example sentence for context.

Grammar guides

Grammar guides help you to better understand the construction of a language. Over time, this will help you train your ears to translate during a conversation, too. Look for grammar guides that explain basic sentence construction and rules of the language.

Examples of conversation

If your goal is survival French, examples of conversations are a crucial piece. These might include ordering at a restaurant, asking for directions or introducing yourself.

Illustrations

Illustrations may seem elementary in an English to French dictionary for adults, but they can be a lifesaver for visual learners. These can help jumpstart vocabulary acquisition, too.

How much you can expect to spend on an English to French dictionary

Depending on the size and the features, expect to spend $7-$50 on an English-French dictionary. 

English to 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 primary international languages of business. If you frequently travel to French-speaking countries for work, it is wise to learn at least some basics.

Is it possible to learn French on your own?

A. Although practicing conversation is a key part of becoming fluent in a language, it is possible to learn French on your own. 

Find yourself a conversational partner if you can, but if not, try these tips for independent language learning:

  • Practice guided, written exercises in French.
  • Create your own English to French flashcards, and study them every day.
  • Listen to French music (and write your translation).
  • Watch TV and movies in French (without subtitles).
  • Watch the news in French.
  • Change the settings on your phone to French.
  • Play French language games on your phone. 
  • Read classic French literature (or familiar English books translated into French).
  • Explore French culture through food.

What’s the best English to French dictionary to buy?

Top English to French dictionary

Larousse Pocket French-English/English-French Dictionary

Larousse Pocket French-English/English-French Dictionary

What you need to know: This pocket-sized dictionary is convenient and great for travel.

What you’ll love: This pint-sized paperback has hundreds of thousands of words, phrases and translations; usage examples; abbreviations, acronyms and proper nouns; and verb conjugations.

What you should consider: It’s a little thick to carry in a pocket but fits nicely in a backpack or purse.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top English to French dictionary for the money

Merriam-Webster's French-English Dictionary

Merriam-Webster’s French-English Dictionary

What you need to know: This is an easy-to-use, comprehensive dictionary by a trusted name in reference materials.

What you’ll love: It has 80,000 entries with 100,000 translations. It supplies 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 typeface difficult to read.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Collins Robert French Unabridged Dictionary

Collins Robert French Unabridged Dictionary

What you need to know: Choose this comprehensive dictionary when you’re ready to get serious about learning French.

What you’ll love: Recent revisions to these 310,000 words, meanings and phrases and 500,000 translations include updating for changes to the language of the internet, economics and the environment. Entries are longer to offer 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 the size means it’s not portable.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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