And other pairs in French such as 'an' vs 'année,..
Expressing dates in French can be a bit confused, as we covered it in a previous article. Today, we’ll see that the differences between French expressions of time such as ‘jour’ and ‘journée’ or ‘an’ and ‘année’ can be subtle. Do you say ‘jour’ or ‘journée’ when greeting someone ?
But don’t worry, we’ll give you easy and straightforward explanations. The idea is to avoid thinking too much about it when communicating in French. Let’s shine some light on things with examples.
The differences between ‘jour’ and ‘journée’ ?
When to use ‘an’ vs ‘année’ ?
Do the same rule apply to ‘matin’ and ‘matinée’, ‘soir’ and ‘soirée’ ?
The differences with 'jour' and 'journée'
Jour is a moment in time
In one hand, ‘jour’ refers to a moment and a masculine noun (un jour). It’s commonly used to greet people with Bonjour !
C’est le jour J : It’s D Day
Quel jour est notre réunion ? : What day is our meeting ?
Nous serons en famille pour le jour de l’An :We’ll be together for New Year’s Day
J’ai rencontré Pierre il y a 3 jours : I met Pierre 3 days ago
Je vais partir au Canada dans 2 jours : I’m leaving for Canada in 2 days
Je fais du vélo tous les jours : I ride my bike everyday
Journée is a duration
On the other hand, ‘journée’ is a period of time and is a feminine noun (‘une journée’)
Je vous souhaite une bonne journée ! : I wish you a good day / have a good day !
C’est une belle journée, il fait très chaud : It’s a beautiful day, it’s very warm
Nous avons travaillé toute la journée : We worked all day long
J’irais au cinéma dans la journée : I’ll go to the cinema during the day
Il passe la journée avec son grand-père : He spends the day with his grand father
Remember : ‘Jour’ refers to the days of the week as individual units of time. In contrast, the word ‘journée’ refers to the day in its entirety from morning to night.
When to use 'an' vs 'année' in French ?
Then, in French, we have two words for year : ‘un an‘ and ‘une année‘. It’s easy to mix up these two as they basically have the same meaning (a year = 12 months). But ‘an’ and ‘année’ are not always interchangeable. Let see to learn the difference between ‘an’ and ‘année’ and when we should use them.
Using 'an' in French
Firstly, ‘an’ regards a year as a unit of time. You can use ‘an’ to express someone’s age, specify a precise date or situate an event in time. It is almost always used with a cardinal number.
J’ai 23 ans : I’m 23 years old
Marie est allée à New-York il y a deux ans : Marie went to New-York 2 years ago
Secondly, the feminine noun ‘année’ views the year as a period of time. It refers to the whole year in its entirety (from 1st January to 31st December) and therefore emphasises the duration (the whole year, all year long).
Je vous souhaite une bonne année ! : I wish you a Happy New Year ! (for the whole year)
Je reste en télétravail cette année : I work from home (all year long)
Remember : ‘An’ and ‘année’ can be interchangeable when they are followed by an adjective.
Je pars à San Francisco l’an prochain = I’m off to San Francisco next year
Je pars à San Francisco l’année prochaine
Do the same rule apply to 'matin' vs 'matinée' and 'soir' vs 'soirée'?
Finally, the answer is yes !
'Matin' and 'soir refers to a specific time point
Le soir is somewhere between 7pm and midnight (approximately).
Le matin is moment in the morning (from about 6am to 11am).
Est-ce que tu veux aller au restaurant ce soir? : Do you want to go to the restaurant tonight (at a specific time)
J’aime aller courir le matin : I like to go running in the morning
'Matinée' and 'soirée' express a duration
On the contrary, ‘matinée’ and soirée expresses the duration of the morning and the evening in its entirety. For example :
Je vais aller faire les courses dans la matinée = I’m going to spend the morning shopping.
J’ai passé une très bonne soirée = I had a nice evening (from start to finish).
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