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French Language Lessons: Time Talk

David Ronis

This lesson covers basics of time – telling time, days, months, seasons. You can listen to the lesson.

Notes on Pronunciation

French words tend to be accented lightly on the last syllable or the last syllable of a group of words. In rare instances for emphasis or where this is not the case, an accented syllable will be indicated by ALL CAPS. Liaisons are indicated by red, italicized initial consonants (e.g. "Puis-je vous aider?" pronounced as "pwee-zhuh voo zeh-day"). See Guide to Transliteration for more information.

What time is it?

Telling time in France is much the same as it is in the US with a couple of variations. A time between the half-hour mark and the next hour can be expressed in two ways: as the hour plus the number of minutes past it, or the next hour minus the number of minutes until that hour is reached. France also uses the 24-hour clock, so frequently time will be expressed that way.

ENGLISH FRENCH SAY IT LIKE THIS
What time is it? Quelle heure est-il? kehl uhr eh-teel
It's seven o'clock. Il est sept heures. eel eh seht uhr
It's 6:15.

It's a quarter past 6.

Il est six heures quinze.

Il est six heures et quart.

eel eh seez uhr kaz*

eel eh seez uhr ay kahr*

It's 10:40.

It's twenty minutes to 11.

Il est dix heures quarante.

Il est onze heures moins vingt.

eel eh deez uhr kah-raht

eel eh ohz uhr mwa va*

It's 19:30. Il est dix-neuf heures et demi. eel eh deez-nuhv** uhr ay duh-MEE
It's noon. Il est midi. eel eh mee-dee
It's midnight. Il est minuit. eel eh meen-wee
the morning le matin luh mah-ta
the afternoon l'après-midi lah-preh-mee-dee
the evening le soir luh swahr
the night la nuit lah nwee

* Reminder: "kaz", "mwa" and "va" rhyme with "cat" and "kahr" rhymes with the first syllable in "father".

** In this context, the "f" in "dix-neuf" changes to a "v" sound.

Days of the Week

Neither the days of the week or months of the year are capitalized in French.

ENGLISH FRENCH SAY IT LIKE THIS
Monday lundi luh-dee
Tuesday mardi mahr-dee
Wednesday mercredi mehr-kruh-dee
Thursday jeudi zhuh-dee
Friday vendredi vah-druh-dee
Saturday samedi sahm-dee
Sunday dimanche dee-mahsh

Months of the Year

Neither the days of the week or months of the year are capitalized in French.

ENGLISH FRENCH SAY IT LIKE THIS
January janvier zhah-vee-ay
February février fay-vree-ay
March mars mahrs
April avril ah-vreel
May mai meh
June juin zhwa
July juillet zhwee-yeh
August août oo(t)*
September septembre sehp-TAHM-bruh
October octobre ohk-TOH-bruh
November novembre noh-VAHM-bruh
December décembre day-SAHM-bruh

*août is sometimes pronounced with a final t

Seasons of the Year

The names of the seasons are usually found with their direct articles.

ENGLISH FRENCH SAY IT LIKE THIS
winter l'hiver lee-vehr
spring le printemps luh pra-tah
summer l'été lay-tay
autumn/fall l'automne loh-tohn

Listen

You can hear this lesson being spoken.

Download MP3 soundtrack: fr_timetalk.mp3 (1.5mb)
Click on the link to play the sound file (it takes a few minutes to download). Right click to download the file to save on your computer.


David Ronis is a classical singer, actor and translator living in New York City. www.davidronis.com

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