Can You Tell French Words From Italian?


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: valentina angiuli photografie/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Ciao, bella! Parlez vous francais? No, we didn't just call you by the name Bella. Those are two very common phrases, one Italian and the other French. One is a greeting and might be used when greeting a beautiful woman, while the other is simply asking if you speak French.

Let's take a close look at both languages. Both are referred to as "romance" languages, having evolved from what was commonly called Vulgar Latin, which was a tongue of the Roman Empire. It evolved further from the Latin spoken in Gaul, which was what France was called under Roman rule. It has many other influences, however, and today these languages are spoken in 29 different countries. 

Italian also descends from Vulgar Latin and is considered the modern language most close to it. Although not spoken in as many countries as French, it is the main language in a number of areas within other countries. It is spoken in the Vatican City, parts of Switzerland, San Marino and even in parts of Africa. 

So, as a lover of languages, the question is, can you spot an Italian phrase from a French one? Some are straightforward, while others will have you exercising your linguistic gray matter as you strive to ace this quiz. Good luck! 

Is the word "encore" a French or Italian word?

"Encore" is indeed a French word. The Italian equivalent is "ancora." When translated to English, "encore" means again. It is a phrase often used in English as ​well. For example, "The Rolling Stones kept the crowd waiting until their final encore before they played their newest hit."


"Buongiorno" is a form of greeting in which language? French or Italian?

Most of us know that "buongiorno" is the Italian equivalent of a greeting said at the beginning of the day. In other words, it means "good morning" when translated into English. The French equivalent is "bonjour."


Can you tell us if the word "dejà" originated in France or Italy?

"Dejà" is a word from the French language. When translated to English, it means "again". English speakers will recognize the word from the phrase "dejà vu" which means "already seen" in English. The Italian equivalent of "dejà" is "già."


If someone says "merci" to you when you hand them something, what language are they speaking?

"Merci" is certainly a phrase many English speakers would have heard. French in origin, it is the basic phrase used to say thank you. The longer version of the phrase is "merci beaucoup," which means "thank you very much." The Italian equivalent of "merci" is "grazie" or "grazie mille."


Is the word "si" Italian or French?

"Si" is an Italian term. An English equivalent is "yes." An example of the phrase in action is "Si, signore" which means "Yes, sir." The French equivalent of the term "si" is "oui."


Do you think the word "mal" originated in the French or Italian language?

Not a word many English speakers would have heard before, "mal" is of French origin. The Italian equivalent is "male" while interestingly, in Spanish and Portuguese, the term remains "mal." And what does "mal" mean in English? It means "bad/evil."


"Come sta?" Is this a phrase you would hear in Italy or France?

"Come sta?" is an Italian phrase which, when translated to English, means "how are you?" This is a very formal phrase and many Italians will use "come stai?" instead. The French equivalent of this formal Italian phrase is "comment allez-vous?"


Please tell us if you think the phrase, "s'il vous plaît" is more likely to be heard in Paris or Rome. In other words, is it French or Italian in origin?

"S'il vous plaît" is a French phrase which would be quite familiar to people who do not speak French. It means "please." And the Italian equivalent? That would be "per favore."


"Come ti chiami?" is a phrase in which you are asking someone for their name. What language is this?

When asking someone their name in Italian, you would say "Come ti chiami?" This is the informal phrase used by Italians. A more formal phrase would be "come si chiama?" The informal way to say this in French would be "Tu t'appelles comment?"


"Niente" is the _________ phrase for the English word, "anything."

The Italian equivalent of "anything" is "niente." It sounds pretty Italian, doesn't it? Although French and Italian phrases can sometimes be very similar, in this case, they are not as the equivalent French word is "rien."


"Anglais" means "English" in what language?

The French and the English have been bound together for centuries as nations. Separated by just the English channel, they have fought wars against each other and as allies. The French word for "English" is "Anglais." And the Italian term? Well, that would be "inglese."


"Buon pomeriggio" is a greeting in which language?

Well, it just screams Italian, doesn't it? But what does "buon pomeriggio" mean? Well, translated in English, it is a simple greeting of "Good afternoon." The French equivalent of this Italian phrase is "bon après-midi."


A farewell greeting, "au revoir" would be which one of these languages?

"Au revoir." That's a French phrase that most of us would have heard at some point during our lifetime. It's a farewell greeting which in English simply means "goodbye." The Italian equivalent of "au revoir" is "arrivederci," another phrase that most English speakers would have heard.


Do you know if the phrase "con" would be used in France or Italy?

"Con" is a phrase that is Italian in origin. When translated from Italian, the English equivalent is "with." The French word for "con" is "avec."


Is the word "sans" of Italian or French origin?

"Sans" is a purely French phrase. But what does it mean? Well, the English equivalent of sans would be "without" and it's a term sometimes used by English speakers as well. For example, "He came to the party sans his wife." The Italian equivalent is "senza."


"Non c'è di che" would be the ________ term that someone might use after they have been thanked.

This is a tough one as the term "non c'è di che" certainly looks like it could be French or Italian. Rest assured, however, it is Italian and in English means "don't mention it."


Is the word "chaque" French or Italian?

"Chaque" is probably a term that not many English speakers would have heard before. It is French in origin and means "each." The Italian equivalent of "chaque" is "ogni."


If someone said "non" to you, what language are they speaking?

You knew this one, didn't you? "Non" is clearly "no" in English. And what language does it originate from? Well, French of course. The Italian equivalent of "non" is "no," just as it is in English. It is probably said with a bit more passion, however.


"D'accord" is a word in what language?

French in origin, "d'accord" is that language's word for the popular English saying, "OK." In Italian, it is not much different, actually. In that language, the word used is "d'accordo" but some Italians use "va bene" as well.


"Comment vous appelez-vous?" is a formal phrase asking a person their name. What language is it?

The French phrase "Comment vous appelez-vous?" means "What's your name?" in English. This is a very formal way of speaking, however, and many French speakers use the informal version "Tu t'appelles comment?" instead. In Italian, one would say "come ti chiama?"


Is the phrase "quanti anni ha?" Italian or French?

"Quanti anni ha" is an Italian phrase that, when translated into English, means "how old are you?" The French phrase for this can be said in two ways, "quel âge avez-vous?" or "Tu as quel âge?"


"J'ai 13 ans." Is this phrase from the French or Italian language?

"J'ai 13 ans" is a French term and is basically the answer to when someone asks your age. The English equivalent would be "I am 13 years old." In Italian, the matching phrase is "ho 13 anni."


"Francais" is a word meaning French. What language do you think it is, though?

That's an easy one, right? In the French language, the word "French" is "Francais." In Italian, however, it is a little different. Here, the word French is "Francese."


Do you know if the term "lo so" is Italian or French?

The Italian phrase "lo so" has an English equivalent which means "I know." In French, however, the term to describe "I know" would be "je sais."


"Pouvez-vous m'aider?" Italian or French?

It's pretty clear to see that "pouvez-vous m'aider" is French. But what does it mean? Well, the English translation is "Can you help me?" This is a very formal type of phrase and many people use the informal equivalent, "tu peux m'aider?" In Italian, one would say "può aiutarmi?"


What language would you consider "con permesso" to be?

A phrase you will likely use fairly often when visiting Italy, "con permesso" is the Italian equivalent of the English phrase, "excuse me."


The word, "entrez," would be Italian or French. What do you think?

"Come in." That's what "entrez" means. Although, you would think the English equivalent would be "enter." And yes, it is most certainly French.


"Cosa c'è?" is a phrase from which of the languages below?

If you needed to ask someone "What's the matter?" in Italian, you would use say, "cosa c'è?"


Someone speaking _________ would say "j'ai faim" to indicate that they need a bite to eat.

After a day working hard in the fields, a French farmworker will probably say, "J'ai faim." This indicates a person is hungry and the English translation is literally, "I am hungry." In Italian, you would say, "ho fame."


Greeting someone at night with the phrase, "bonsoir" would mean you are speaking which of these languages?

Like English and Italian, French has different greetings for different times of the day. "Bonsoir" is the French equivalent of the English phrase, "good evening."


"Lei parla inglese?" is a term in Italian or French?

"Lei parla inglese?" is a term that English speaking visitors to Italy might use often when trying to find someone who speaks English. It means, "Do you speak English?" Many Italians can indeed speak and understand a little bit of English.


"Je suis de Calais" would be an Italian or French phrase?

When asking someone where they are from in French, they will respond with "je suis de _______" (fill in the blank with the name of the place). In our example, the person is from Calais, a city in France. In Italy, the same reply would be "sono di Venezia," for example. (I am from Venice.)


"Salut" is a greeting in which language?

Yes, "salut" is a French greeting. It is the same as the English word, "hi" but can also be used when saying "goodbye." If you were in Italy, the word to use would be "ciao." We have all heard that one before, right?


Is the term "buona notte" Italian or French?

Of course, "buona notte" is Italian! It just looks and sounds like Italian, doesn't it? Translated to English, "buona notte" means "good night" and is said at bedtime. The French equivalent would be "bonne nuit."


"Moi" is the ______ term to describe yourself.

You certainly would be kicking yourself if you got this one wrong. "Moi" is the French term for "me" in English. For example, "excusez-moi" means "Excuse me." Italians also use the word "me." Language sure is interesting!


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