French Calendar: How to Talk about Days, Months and Years in French

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January 9, 2019

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It’s another year, a new chance to get things right, and a whole new set of twelve months to look forward to! If you’re learning French, you need to know how to say the days and months in French, as well as be able to say the dates.

That’s something we’ll remedy in this article. Here, let’s talk about the calendar in French or le calendrier.

Start studying the French calendar here...

A Day in French

Let’s begin with a single day (un jour).

un joura day
aujourd'huitoday
demaintomorrow
hieryesterday
le matinmorning
l'après- midiafternoon
le soirevening
la nuitnight

Take note that the French word for afternoon is exactly worded out the same way in English.

Après means after

Midi means noon

So après-midi is literally afternoon!

The Days of the Week in French

Next up, we have the days of the week or les jours de la semaine.

les joursthe days
les jours de la semainedays of the week
lundiMonday
mardiTuesday
mercrediWednesday
jeudiThursday
vendrediFriday
samediSaturday
dimancheSunday
la semainethe week
le week-endthe weekend

Let me tell you an interesting fact about the calendar in French.

If you could notice, the names of the days of the week in French are based on the different god and goddesses.

Lundi is named after Luna, the Roman goddess of the moon. Mardi comes from Mars, the Roman god of war. Then there’s mercredi from Mercury, jeudi for Jupiter, and vendredi for Venus.

Other things to remember:

  • When writing down the French days of the week, the first letters are not capitalized.
  • When talking about something that happens repeatedly on a particular day of the week, use the definite article le before the name of the day. Example: Je vois Alice le dimanche. I see Alice on Sundays.
  • When you’re talking about a one-time event, don’t use an article with the name of the day of the week. Example: J'ai vu Philippe vendredi. I saw Philippe on Friday
  • To say what day of the week today is, the French say “we are …..” How does that work, you ask? Example: Aujourd’hui, nous sommes mercredi. Today is Wednesday.This basically means: Today, we are Wednesday.

The Months in French

Now let’s talk about the different months and what they’re called in French.

un moisa month
janvierJanuary
févrierFebruary
marsMarch
avrilApril
maiMay
juinJune
juilletJuly
aoûtAugust
septembreSeptember
octobreOctober
novembreNovember
décembreDecember

Did you notice something? Just like the days of the week, the names of the months in French are also written as all small letters. In French, we do not capitalize the first letter of the name of the month.

Dates in French

One important thing you need to know is that the dates in French are said as a cardinal number.

For example:

Example: It’s the first of December.
  • C’est le 5 (cinq) août.
  • On est le 5 août.
  • Nous sommes le 5 août.

All of which mean “It’s August 5”.

One exception for this is the first day of the month which is always referred to as le premier, an ordinal number.

C’est le premier décembre.

Learn more about cardinal and ordinal numbers in French in this article!


How to talk about years in French

Now we’re down to the years. When talking about a year in French, you either use ‘an’ or ‘année’.

  • With years that end in 0, use ‘an’.

Examples:

  • C'est l'an 2020. It’s the year 2020.
  • En l'an 1990. In the year 1990.
  • C'est l'an 2000. It’s the year 2000.

You can also simply say:

En 1990. In 1990.

Take note that if you simply say c’est +  year ending in zero such as 2000, people can confuse it with a price or amount of something.

  • With years that end in any other number that is not zero, use ‘année’.

C'est l'année 2018. It’s the year 2018/ It’s 2018.

Other simpler options:

  • En 1983. In 1983
  • C'est 1999. It's 1999

How to say the date in French

Use the following format:

LE + NUMBER + MONTH + YEAR

Some examples:

  • Aujourd’hui, nous sommes le 9 janvier 2019. Today is January 9, 2019.
  • Mon anniversaire est le 6 mai 1990. My birthday is May 6, 1990.
  • J'ai un rendez-vous le 31 janvier 2019. I have an appointment on January 31, 2019.

Pop Quiz!

Test your knowledge of the lesson we discussed by answering a few questions below:

1. What does this mean?  Aujourd’hui, nous sommes dimanche

Click to reveal correct answer

2. True or false: le 12 janvier is July 12.

Click to reveal correct answer

3. How do you say Wednesday in French?

Click to reveal correct answer

Conclusion

So there you go with the days, months, and year in French. Now you can finally talk about the different dates in the calendar in French.

Want more simple lessons like this? Get your copy of Beginner’s French Grammar in 30 Days. It comes with easy-to-follow lessons, audio, quizzes, and exercises plus a lot more. Check it out below!

Here are some FAQs about French Calendar

On what day does a French calendar begin?

The French use the Gregorian Calendar, which starts on the 1st of January.

What was the calendar during the French Revolution?

The French Revolutionary Calendar is also known as the French Republic Calendar. This was used by the French government during the French Revolution in an attempt to remove all royalist and religious influences from the previous calendar. As such, the calendar was part of an attempt to decimalise, as the currency and time of day were also put into decimal values.

The French Republic Calendar began in the autumn equinox, and had 12 months with 30 days each, each month renamed based on nature. For example, the autumn month Brumaire came from the French word for mist, brume. The extra five or six days in the year were considered Complementary Days, or Sansculottides, and weren’t given a month designation.
Another unique trait of the Revolutionary Calendar is that each 30-day month was split into three 10-day weeks, and were called décades. The days were named after their number, so the first day was called primidi, the second duodi, and so on. However the décades were abandoned in 1802.

The calendar only lasted  12 years, from 1793 to 1805, and was temporarily used for another 18 days in 1871 by the Paris Commune.

What are the 12 months of the year in French?

Janvier, février, mars, avril, mai, juin, juillet, août, septembre, octobre, novembre, décembre.

About the author 

Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Instagram

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