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French Calendar and Dates

French Dates

Before going on with this lesson, you should read the one on French Numbers.  It will come in handy as we discuss the days of the month and months of the year.

The building blocks of dates are the same in French and in English – and in the rest of the world for that matter: weeks, months and years.  The crucial difference between French and English though is in the progression of these building blocks when talking about dates.  Whereas English goes from day of the week, month of the year, number of the day of the month and year (e.g. Sunday, January 17th, 1989  or  Sunday 01/17/89), French goes day of the week, number of the day of the month, month of the year and year (e.g. Dimanche, le 17 Janvier, 1989 or  Dimanche 17/01/89).  One way to remember this is that French progresses from the smallest unit of time to the greatest: day, week, month, year.

Building from the “Questions with More Complex Answers” lesson, you can ask/answer what day of the week it is in the following ways.

#  When asking What day is it today?, you can answer:

Aujourd’hui / Today
Question Answer
Quel jour sommes-nous aujourd’hui? (always correct)

Quel jour est-on aujourd’hui? (always correct)

On est quel jour aujourd’hui? (informal)

(Aujourd’hui) c’est samedi. / Today it’s Saturday.

(Aujourd’hui) on est dimanche. / Today we’re Sunday.

(Aujourd’hui) nous sommes jeudi. / Today we’re Thursday.

#  When asking about a day in the future (e.g. What day will it be?), you can say:

Futur / Future
Question Answer
Quel jour serons-nous? (always correct)

Quel jour est-ce que ce sera? (always correct)

Ce sera quel jour? (informal)

Ce sera mardi. / It will be Tuesday.

On sera lundi. / We will be Monday.

Nous serons mercredi. / We will be Wednesday.

#  When asking about a day in the past (e.g. What day was it?), you can say:

Passé / Past
Question Answer
Quel jour étions-nous? (always correct)

Quel jour était-ce? (always correct)

C’était quel jour? (informal)

C’était lundi. / It was Monday.

On était jeudi. / We were Thursday.

Nous étions mardi. / We were Tuesday.

Note that the names of the days of the week are not capitalized in French.  Note also that in both languages the words follow a similar pattern:  1st part + di/day, the only exception being dimanche/Sunday.  So what are the days of the week in French?

Jours de la Semaine / Days of the Week
Français English
(Aujourd’hui nous sommes) lundi (Today we’re) Monday
(Aujourd’hui on est)  mardi (Today it’s) Tuesday
(On sera) mercredi (It will be) Wednesday
(Ce sera) jeudi (It will be) Thursday
(C’était)  vendredi (It was) Friday
(On était) samedi (It was) Saturday
dimanche Sunday

Before you can ask for/answer with a full date, you also need to know the names of the months.  The good thing is that the names in English and in French bear a close resemblance.  Note that the names of months are not capitalized in French.

Mois de l’Année / Months of the Year

Français

English

janvier

January

février

February

mars

March

avril

April

mai

May

juin

June

juillet

July

août

August

septembre

September

octobre

October

novembre

November

décembre

December

Before going into how you can ask/answer what date it is, you should note that the day of the month is always a cardinal number (except for the first of the month which is the ordinal number) and is always preceded by le, which is the singular masculine definite article (e.g. le premier janvier/January first; le 2 février/February second; le 3 mars/March third; le 4 avril/April fourth).

#  When asking:  What’s today’s date?, you can say:

Aujourd’hui / Today
Question Answer
Quelle est la date aujourd’hui? (always correct)

On est quelle date aujourd’hui? (informal)

(Aujourd’hui) c’est (day of the week), le + day of the month + month (+ year)

(Aujourd’hui) on est (day of the week), le + day of the month + month (+ year)

(Aujourd’hui) nous sommes (day of the week), le + day of the month + month (+ year)

#  When asking:  What date will it be?, you can say:

Futur / Future
Question Answer
Quelle sera la date? (always correct)

Quelle date est-ce que ce sera? (always correct)

Ce sera quelle date? (informal)

Ce sera (day of the week), le + day of the month + month (+ year)

On sera (day of the week), le + day of the month + month (+ year)

Nous serons (day of the week), le + day of the month + month (+ year)

#  When asking:  What date was it?, you can say:

Passé / Past
Question Answer
Quelle était la date? (always correct)

Quelle date était-ce? (always correct)

C’était quelle date? (informal)

C’était (day of the week), le + day of the month + month (+ year)

On était (day of the week), le + day of the month + month (+ year)

Nous étions (day of the week), le + day of the month + month (+ year)

Here are some words that will come in handy when discussing dates:

More French Vocabulary for Dates
Aujourd’hui Today
Hier Yesterday
Demain Tomorrow
Avant-hier The day before yesterday
Après-demain The day after tomorrow
**  Dernier(s)/Dernière(s) Last / Past
**  Prochain(s)/Prochaine(s) Next

**  Examples:

L’année dernière / Last year

Le mois dernier / Last month

La semaine prochaine / Next week

Le mois prochain / Next month

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