time in french

Expressing Time in French

Are you struggling to grasp the intricacies of expressing time in French? Don’t fret; you’re not alone. The nuances of time-related expressions can be challenging even for the most seasoned language learners. But fear not, because we’re here to enlighten you with a comprehensive linguistic perspective on the subject.

In this article, we delve into the fascinating world of expressing time in French. From simple phrases like “il est une heure” to more complex constructions involving verb tenses and prepositions, we will guide you step-by-step, demystifying the rules and shedding light on the subtle variations.

By understanding the underlying structures and patterns, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the French language and its unique way of expressing time. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, this article will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to navigate time-related conversations effortlessly.

So, join us on this linguistic journey as we unlock the secrets of expressing time in French. Get ready to expand your language skills and impress with your newfound fluency!

Why Learning Time in French Matters

Every language requires the ability to tell the time, and French is no exception. It is not only useful in daily life, but it also offers insightful knowledge of French culture and grammar. Teaching French promotes a link with the French-speaking community and offers possibilities to a greater understanding of the language.

The use of à with time in French

In French, time expressions are often accompanied by definite articles. This rule applies to both specific and general time references. For example, when referring to a specific time, such as “I will see you at the cinema at 8 o’clock,” you would say “Je te verrai au cinéma à huit heures.” Notice the use of the definite article “à” before the time expression.

Expressing specific times: hours and minutes

To express specific times in French, you use the 24-hour clock system. This means that you don’t need to differentiate between AM and PM. For example, if you want to say “I have a meeting at 3:30 PM,” you would say “J’ai une réunion à quinze heures trente.” The hours are pronounced as cardinal numbers, while the minutes are pronounced as ordinal numbers.

It’s important to note that when you use a time expression with minutes from 1 to 9, you need to add the word “heure” after the hour. For instance, “11:05 AM” is expressed as “onze heures cinq du matin.” The word “heure” is added after “onze” to indicate that it’s 11 o’clock.

Games to teach time in French that Spark Delight!

Using the digital way is the simplest way to teach time in French. However French people often use a quarter past instead of 15 for example.

I invite you to start your teaching with this games

Using a quarter to to express time in French

This is what students find the most difficult as it requires some prior knowledge in their mother tongue first and some solid math skills.

This is why I invite you to use these games to reinforce their understanding.

Unleash the Excitement: Mastering Time in French Through Playful Games!

After going over the fundamentals, it’s time to incorporate fun activities to help pupils remember what they’ve learned. These activities not only make learning enjoyable, but they also promote involvement and help students remember the information.

1. Bingo des Heures (Hour Bingo)

Objective: To recognize and match digital and analog clock representations with their corresponding French phrases.

How to Play: Create bingo cards with various clock times written in digital format (e.g., 09:30) and corresponding French phrases (e.g., “neuf heures et demie”). As you call out the times in French, players mark the corresponding clocks on their cards. The first one to complete a row or column shouts “Bingo!”

2. Horloge Vivante (Living Clock)

Objective: To physically represent clock times and engage students in active learning.

How to Play: Have students form a circle, with each one assigned a specific time. As you call out times in French, students must act out the corresponding clock hands’ positions. For example, for “il est trois heures,” the student representing “three o’clock” will move their arms to indicate the time.

3. Quelle Heure Est-il? (What Time Is It?)

Objective: To practice asking and answering time-related questions in pairs or small groups.

How to Play: Pair students up or divide them into small groups. One student asks, “Quelle heure est-il?” (What time is it?), and the other responds with the current time in French. They can take turns playing both roles, reinforcing their time-telling skills through conversation.

Describing duration: days, weeks, months, and years

When describing duration in French, you use different prepositions depending on the time frame. For example, to say “I will be on vacation for two weeks,” you would say “Je serai en vacances pendant deux semaines.” The preposition “pendant” is used to indicate the duration of two weeks.

When discussing days, you use the preposition “pendant” as well. For instance, “I work during the day” would be translated as “Je travaille pendant la journée.” However, when talking about months or years, you use the preposition “de” instead. For example, “I lived in Paris for six months” is expressed as “J’ai vécu à Paris pendant six mois.”

Talking about recurring events: days of the week, months, and seasons

In French, when referring to recurring events such as days of the week, months, or seasons, you don’t use articles before the time expressions. For example, “I have French class on Mondays” would be translated as “J’ai cours de français le lundi.” Notice the absence of the definite article before “lundi.”

Similarly, when discussing months and seasons, the same rule applies. For instance, “I love spring” is expressed as “J’adore le printemps.” Again, no article is used before “printemps.” This rule may seem different from the use of definite articles with specific times, but it’s a consistent pattern in French language usage.

If you want to recap days and months, I have these fabulous games

Using prepositions with time in French

Prepositions play a crucial role in expressing time in French. Depending on the context, different prepositions are used to convey specific meanings. For example, to say “I will see you in five minutes,” you would say “Je te verrai dans cinq minutes.” The preposition “dans” indicates that the action will take place in the future.

When expressing time in relation to the past, you use the preposition “il y a.” For instance, “I saw her two days ago” is translated as “Je l’ai vue il y a deux jours.” The preposition “il y a” conveys the idea of time that has passed.

Expressing time in French in the past

In French, the choice between the passé composé and imparfait verb tenses depends on the context and the specific time frame being referred to. The passé composé is used to describe completed actions in the past, while the imparfait is used for ongoing or habitual actions.

For example, if you want to say “I visited Paris last year,” you would use the passé composé and say “J’ai visité Paris l’année dernière.” The passé composé indicates that the action of visiting Paris was completed in the past.

On the other hand, if you want to say “I used to live in Paris,” you would use the imparfait and say “Je habitais à Paris.” The imparfait conveys the idea of an ongoing or habitual action in the past.

If you want to put into practise this concept, I invite you to use this game in your class (make sure they  have prior knowledge of passé composé and imparfait

Talking about future plans: aller + infinitive

To express future plans or actions in French, you use the verb “aller” followed by an infinitive verb. This construction is similar to the English “going to + verb” structure. For example, “I am going to study tonight” would be translated as “Je vais étudier ce soir.”

This construction is not only used for immediate future plans but can also be used for events further in the future. For instance, “We are going to visit France next summer” would be expressed as “Nous allons visiter la France l’été prochain.”

Here are some games if you need to recap the future tense

time in french

Common idiomatic expressions of time in French

French language is rich in idiomatic expressions related to time. These expressions add color and depth to conversations and are essential to understanding the language in a cultural context. Here are a few common idiomatic expressions related to time:

1. “Avoir du temps devant soi” – To have time ahead of oneself, meaning to have plenty of time.

2. “Être à l’heure” – To be on time, meaning to arrive at the expected time.

3. “Au fil du temps” – Over time, meaning as time goes by.

4. “En temps voulu” – In due time, meaning at the appropriate time.

5. “À tout moment” – At any moment, meaning at any time.

These idiomatic expressions not only demonstrate your fluency in the language but also enhance your ability to express yourself with nuance and precision.

Mastering the art of expressing time in French

Congratulations! You’ve now unlocked the secrets of expressing time in French. By following the linguistic perspective provided in this article, you’ve gained a deeper understanding of the rules, structures, and patterns that govern time-related expressions in French.

Remember to pay attention to the use of definite articles, prepositions, verb tenses, and idiomatic expressions to ensure accuracy and fluency in your conversations. Practice speaking and writing in French, and soon you’ll be able to effortlessly navigate time-related discussions with confidence.

So, continue your linguistic journey, explore more nuances of the French language, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry that unfolds through its expressions of time. Bonne chance et bonne continuation!

Teaching time in French can be an exciting journey when you integrate interactive games into the learning process. By mastering the basics and incorporating engaging activities, students will not only grasp the concept of time in French but also develop a deeper appreciation for the language. Remember that practice and creativity are key to successful language learning, so encourage your students to have fun while mastering this essential skill.

Additionally, we’ve included a link to Boom Learning, a valuable resource for French learners. You can explore their French time-related activities here.

If you’re interested in enhancing your French learning experience further, don’t forget to explore our shop at DigitalForFrench.com for a wide range of educational materials and games that can complement your language journey. Bonne chance (Good luck)!