Days and Dates

In order to express the date, you first much know the days of the week and the months of the year in French. All months, days of the week, and seasons in French are masculine and are not capitalized unless they are used at the beginning of a sentence.

Days and months

French calendars start with Monday as the first day of the week. Keep this in mind when making appointments. Tables 1 and 2 give you the days of the week and the months of the year, respectively.

Dates

Dates in French may be expressed in several ways, as follows. Notice that le is optional or may be used in one of two places: (le) + day + (le) cardinal number + month + year.

July 11, 2001 may expressed in any of the following ways:

  • lundi onze juillet 2001
  • lundi le onze juillet 2001
  • le lundi onze juillet 2001

Note the following when expressing a date:

  • The first of each month is expressed by premier, but premier is the only ordinal number used . Cardinal numbers are used for all other days.
    • le premier avril (April 1st)
    • le deux mars (March 2nd)
    • le neuf juin (June 9th)
  • Years are usually expressed in hundreds, just like in English.
    • dix‐neuf cent quatre‐vingt‐dix‐neuf (1999)
    • mil neuf cent quatre‐vingt‐dix‐neuf (1999)
    • deux mille (2000)
  • When writing the date in numbers, the French follow the sequence, day + month + year, just as they do in speaking.
    • le 3 mai 2001 (May 3, 2001) which is expressed as 3/5/01 (5/3/01)
  • The word for year, an, is used with ordinal numbers (1, 2, 3, and so on) unless an adjective is used to describe the word “year,” in which case the word année is used to express year. Sometimes, either word is acceptable .
    • un an (a year)
    • une année (a year)
    • six bonnes années (six good years)
    • quelques années (some years)
    • l'an dernier (last year)
    • l'année dernière (last year)
  • To express “on” a certain day, the French use the definite article le, explained in more detail in Chapter 3.
    • Le lundi je vais en ville. (On Monday[s], I go downtown.)
  • The English words “on” and “of” are not expressed in French dates.
    • Il arrive le quatorze septembre. (He's arriving on September 14th).
    • Nous partons le quinze avril. (We're leaving on the 15th of April.)
  • Use the preposition en to express “in” with months .
    • Je voyage en juillet. (I travel in July.)
  • Use the following questions to receive or give information pertaining to today's day or date. You can also use the same questions to receive or give information about the day or date of an event by changing aujourd'hui (today) to the day, date, or event in question.
    • Quel jour est‐ce aujourd'hui? What day is today? C'est aujourd'hui … (Today is …)
    • Quel jour sommes‐nous aujourd'hui? (What day is today?) Nous sommes aujourd'hui … (Today is …)
    • Quelle est la date d'aujourd'hui? (What's today's date?) C'est aujourd'hui … (Today is …)

The words and expressions in Table 3 may prove invaluable to you when you need information about a period of time.