Belgian French VS French from France: what’s the difference?

Belgian French vs. French from France: Unveiling the Differences

French, a language of romance, diplomacy, and art, varies intriguingly across the Francophone world.

Among its regional varieties, Belgian French and French from France stand out for their distinctive features and charming peculiarities.

This post dives into the nuances that set these two apart, offering examples to illustrate the rich diversity within the French language.

Pronunciation and Intonation

One of the first differences you might notice is in pronunciation and intonation. Belgian French speakers often have a melody to their speech that differs slightly from their counterparts in France. For instance, the intonation at the end of a question might be more pronounced in Belgian French.


  • In France, a question like “Tu viens?” might end on a higher note.
  • In Belgium, the same question might have a more noticeable lift at the end.

Vocabulary Variations

Vocabulary differences are perhaps the most apparent. Belgian French includes words and expressions unique to Belgium or used differently than in France.


  • Septante and Nonante: In Belgium, “septante” and “nonante” are used for 70 and 90, respectively, instead of “soixante-dix” (sixty-ten) and “quatre-vingt-dix” (four-twenty-ten) in France.
  • Déjeuner, Dîner, Souper: In Belgium, meals are referred to as “déjeuner” (breakfast), “dîner” (lunch), and “souper” (dinner), whereas in France, “déjeuner” is lunch, and “dîner” is dinner.
  • Savoir vs. Pouvoir: In some contexts, Belgians might use “savoir” to indicate the ability to do something, where French from France would use “pouvoir.”

Expressions and Idioms

Both regions enjoy a rich set of expressions and idioms, some of which are unique to their area.


  • Belgian French: “Il fait frisquet,” might be used to describe chilly weather, a term that’s less common in France.
  • French from France: “Il fait un froid de canard,” is a familiar expression in France for describing very cold weather, equally understood but less used in Belgium.

Grammar and Usage

While the foundational grammar remains consistent, there are nuances in usage that can signify a speaker’s origins.


  • The use of “on” vs. “nous”: In spoken French from France, “on” is often used instead of “nous” for “we”. In Belgian French, “nous” remains common in both written and spoken language.

Accents and Regional Words

Accent marks and regional words offer a wealth of diversity. Belgian French might include words borrowed from local dialects or languages such as Walloon, while French in France integrates regional dialects like Occitan or Breton.


  • Borrowing from local dialects: In Belgium, you might hear “baraque” to mean house, a word that in France might only refer to a shack or hut but is understood in both regions.


The differences between Belgian French and French from France are a testament to the French language’s adaptability and diversity.

From pronunciation and vocabulary to expressions and grammatical nuances, these variations enrich the Francophone tapestry.

Whether you’re learning French as a second language or are a native speaker exploring other dialects, understanding these differences can deepen your appreciation for the language’s global reach and regional specificities.

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