French or Spanish: Which One to Select as a Second Language

Ellison Clapton6 min
Created: Oct 26, 2023Last updated: Mar 11, 2024
French vs Spanish

It’s impossible to distinguish which language proficiency is more beneficial, as everything depends on the person’s goals and preferences. Some would choose French, while others would enjoy studying Spanish as their second language. The reasons can differ, but many people still want to understand which option is better. Let’s consider all the peculiarities of French vs Spanish and try to make a conclusion. 

Unsurprisingly, English speakers often select Spanish or French as their second language. Both originated from Latin and are from the Romance Group. On the other hand, English belongs to the Germanic family. According to research, it’s required to take around 600 hours of lessons to master French or Spanish, so the languages are pretty close in this case. On this page, we will explore the main similarities and distinctions, which will help you understand which language will be more beneficial.

Spanish vs French: What’s in Common?

Originating from the same group, both languages have lots in common. Therefore, those who’ve mastered one of them can already boast partial vocabulary knowledge of another. The primary similarities of the two languages we would like to indicate include the following: 

  1. French and Spanish share the same Latin alphabet, but Spanish has one extra letter, “eñe.”
  2. There are plenty of words with the same roots in both languages.
  3. The order of words is mostly fixed: the adjective usually follows the noun; determiners precede the verb.
  4. Adjectives correspond with nouns in form and number.

It’s also worth noting that the two languages have 20% in common in terms of lexicon, which is a significant indicator. It doesn’t mean French speakers will fully understand Spanish residents, but it can simplify the learning process. Unfortunately, no one can tell you which language knowledge will bring more advantages. Therefore, it’s important to consider numerous factors to decide. 

Differences between French and Spanish

It would be amazing for learners if languages had only minor distinctions; just imagine how easy it would be to master Spanish and French. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like this, and there are still plenty of differences. Phonetics is the first point to consider, as it completely varies in two languages: 

  1. As a rule, Spanish words are said how they are written, so learners won’t find hidden secrets here. All vowels are pronounced clearly.
  2. French phonetics is more complicated. Students need to remember how particular letter combinations are pronounced (for instance, “eau” should be read as “o”).

The above points can partially answer the question of which is easier French or Spanish. However, these are only some of the important factors to consider. The rules concerning the word stress are also different. Everything is quite simple in French, as it’s always on the last syllable. It isn’t the same in Spanish, but two rules will help learners understand the correct option: 

  1. The penultimate syllable is stressed in all words ending with a vowel or the consonants n or s.
  2. The stress falls on the last syllable if a word ends in a consonant letter.

There are exceptions to the basic rules in almost all languages, and Spanish has them, too. In all cases that do not correspond to two rules, a graphic accent is placed on the top (for instance, árbol” [ˈaɾ.β̞ol] translated as “tree”). Memorizing these rules will be beneficial for all Spanish learners. At the same time, French words have no exceptions, as the stress should be on the last syllable, which makes it easier to pronounce words.

Is French Easier Than Spanish: Grammar Peculiarities

It’s impossible to reach the desired fluency level in any language without knowing grammar. Therefore, it’s among the essential things to consider. French grammar is complicated; it has lots of complex rules with numerous exceptions. Moreover, there are multiple irregular verbs, which are challenging to memorize. Remember that even though French and English are similar, it will still be difficult to sort out all the grammar rules.

Even though languages have lots in common, Spanish grammar is completely different. It has more verb tenses and a higher number of conjugations, respectively. Learning everything requires time, but you cannot deal with it without knowing all the peculiarities. Overall, Spanish grammar is considered more complex than the French one. Is Spanish or French easier to master? It all depends on the student’s perceptions, abilities, and individual goals.


Popularity of Spanish and French Languages Globally

Spanish is the third most widespread language globally; statistics indicate there are around 460 million native speakers. These include residents of Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico, and many other countries. Consider learning this language if you plan to visit any of these states, as such knowledge will be beneficial. Basic speaking skills are helpful even during a short trip, as you will have to somehow communicate with the locals. Some say Spanish is easier than French, but it depends on the person’s perceptions and goals. 

French is less popular than Spanish: approximately 321 million people in 20+ countries speak it. These include France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Canada, and numerous African states. Surprisingly, most speakers reside outside Europe. French is an official diplomatic language, in line with English and German, accepted by many international institutions. 29% of English vocabulary comes from the French language. 

But still, what is the answer to whether French or Spanish is easier to learn? It might be simpler for English speakers to master French to the desired level.

Master Languages with High-Quality Assistance from Promova

Have you already decided whether you want to know if French or Spanish is easier to learn? Promova offers guided courses for both languages, so join us and explore interactive education. Our platform allows you to download the app with a few clicks and enjoy new words and quizzes daily. We offer a free and Premium subscription; the latter has even more thrilling lessons and tests for students. 

Downloading the app is not mandatory, as you can use the web version. Both options are convenient, so choose the one you like most. Professional tutors developed Spanish and French guided courses available in Promova. So, what to choose when learning Spanish vs French? Enjoy mastering both with the most relevant examples and use our tips to reach the desired fluency level as quickly as possible.


French and Spanish are in many ways similar but also have plenty of differences. English speakers often choose one of them as their second language. Unfortunately, there’s no particular answer for those who still ask if they should learn French or Spanish. It depends on the person’s goals and desires. Have you been dreaming of visiting Paris and communicating with the locals? Then, French is your perfect choice. At the same time, searching for job opportunities in Spain will require you to master Spanish.

Think about what you need most and start discovering the exciting language. Or maybe you are brave enough to begin learning both French and Spanish simultaneously?


How many words should I know to reach the intermediate level in Spanish?

The research shows that Spanish speakers should know a minimum of 1,000 terms that are used on a daily basis. Overall, 2,500 words in your vocabulary are considered enough to express your thoughts on different topics. However, remember that this number doesn’t include specialized terminology that people use when getting their education or working in various Spanish-speaking countries.

Which additional resources should I use when mastering the Spanish language?

Self-learning is now popular, as students can access many useful resources online. While many prefer the assistance of proficient tutors, others gladly master the language independently. In any case, dictionaries are indispensable for every learner. SpanishDict and Larousse English-Spanish Dictionary are great helpers. You can translate new words with a few clicks and explore the language’s peculiarities.

How much time will it take English speakers to reach proficiency in French?

English and French have many similarities, so it will be easier to master the second language if you already know one of them. Approximately 600–750 hours of study are considered enough to master French. However, progress depends on numerous factors, including the particular student’s goals, skills, learning methods, and time spent on lessons.

What is the best age to start learning languages?

Of course, the earlier a person starts mastering French or Spanish, the better they will know it. According to the study, speaking like a native is only possible if you begin learning the language by age 10. However, it doesn’t mean adults cannot reach proficiency. Success depends on the person’s desires and skills, so there’s nothing impossible. Remember to learn daily, and you will notice positive results.


GracieNov 16th, 2023
Interesting read!Engaging and informative.