Learning how to talk about the calendar, including the months of the year in French, is very useful and should be considered basic vocabulary.
Months of the Year in French: Les Mois d'Années
Memorizing the months of the year in French is very easy since most of the words look very similar to their English counterparts. Remember that the months of the year in French are not capitalized.
|janvier||(pronounced john vee ay)||January|
|février||(fay vree ay)||February|
|septembre||(sep tohm bruh)||September|
|octobre||(oc toh bruh)||October|
|novembre||(no vom bruh)||November|
|décembre||(day som bruh)||December|
|un mois||(un mwah)||a month|
|un an||(uhn ahn)||a year|
|les saisons||(lah say sohn)||the seasons|
The French talk about dates quite differently than do American English speakers:
- To ask about the date say:
Quelle est la date? What is the date?
- To respond you can use one of the following:
C'est le 13 octobre. On est le 25 décember. Nous sommes le 4 avril.
Note that the actual date comes before the month. Something else that is confusing for American English speakers is that the French do not include the preposition of in this construction. In American English we say it's the 13th of October. However, it is notably missing in the French construction.
In addition, writing the date in numeric form is different as well. In French, when you're writing the date in numeric form, you write the day of the month first, the month second and the year last. For example:
8/4/2008 is April 8, 2008
The final anomoly to expressing the date in French is the first day of the month. When you're talking about the first day of the month, you always need to use the ordinal number. So it's:
- C'est le premier juillet. NOT C'est le 1 juillet.
However, you cannot use ordinal numbers to express dates otherwise, so:
- C'est le quatrième juillet is incorrect.
Holidays and Special Days
If you're talking about the calendar, you may also need to talk about certain holidays and events that happen annually.
January begins with le Jour de l'An (New Year's Day). On le Jour de l'An, one often gives l'étrennes or New Year's gifts and you wish everyone Bonne Année, or Happy New Year!
While Americans might be celebrating Ground Hog Day, the French are eating crêpes and celebrating the Catholic holiday of Candlemas or le Chandeleur.
Le Mardi Gras (which literally means "fat Tuesday" in French) isn't just for New Orleans. Le Mardi Gras or le carnaval is celebrated in France as well and happens exactly 46 days before Easter, which is somewhere between February 3 and March 9.
La Saint-Valentin is celebrated le 14 février, and is a great time to brush up on how to express your love in French.
After Mardi Gras begins le carême (Lent) which always starts with Ash Wednesday or le mercredi de Cendres.
Le Pâques, or Easter is usually celebrated in avril although it can also occur in mars.
In juillet the French are happy to commemorate the beginning of la révolution française with Bastille Day. Le jour de la prise de la Bastille or simply la fête nationale, is celebrated each year in remembrance of the French storming the Bastille--a prison that symbolized the monarchy's oppression of its people.
Le premier november (the first of November) starts with the holiday la Toussaint (All Saints' Day) in order to celebrate those saints who don't have their own day.
Of course in décembre, the French celebrate le Noël (Christmas) and that generally begins with l'Avent and ends with la Fête des Rois (Epiphany). Many families still attend la Messe de Minuit ''(Midnight Mass) on Christmas Eve and afterwards will have a huge feast known as le Réveillon.
Learning the months of the year and even some vocabulary associated with the calendar will serve you well in communicating to your peers in French. Since so many months are cognates, it's actually very easy and requires very little memorization.