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“The Oxford 3000” (PDF listing) is a selection of the 3000 most frequently used words in English. If you know them, you can understand the meaning of more than 80% of the words in a general text.

Is there something like that for French? A simplified dictionary for students would be nice too. Because I'm in a condition in which I cannot buy any book, I would prefer to find such dictionary online or in PDF format so that I can print it.

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maybe related to french.stackexchange.com/questions/492/… –  Cédric Julien Feb 16 '12 at 11:07

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

I don't know of any resource as complete as the Oxford 3000, but lists of words sorted by frequency have been compiled by lexicologists, such as:

  • one published on Éduscol (direct PDF link), created by Étienne Brunet, has the most used 1500 words. It is commonly used by elementary or middle school teachers.
  • Wiktionary has another one, with 1750 words all linked to the relevant Wiktionary page. Unfortunately, the link to the original source (“Liste de 1750 mots connus d’un enfant de 4 ans, d’après l’académie d'Amiens”) is dead.
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For 1000 words, featuring prepositions and such, I found this one, based on work by the Lexique.org team: Lexique 1000¹.

For 2000 words, there seem to be very interesting flashcards to help learn them.

¹ Let's name it that.

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