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French Phrases: Time expressions (months, seasons)

On the previous page of time expressions, we looked at days of the week in French plus some related expressions. On this page, we turn our attention to months and seasons of the year.

Months of the year

Many of the French months of the year are similar to English, but the devil is in the detail. The months of the year are listed below. Note that French speakers tend not to use capitals for names of months, unlike English, where it's usual to capitalise them.

en janvier-in January
en février-in February
en mars-in March
en avril-in April
en mai-in May
en juin-in June
en juillet-in July
en août-in August
en septembre-in September
en octobre-in October
en novembre-in November
en décembre-in December
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We've shown the months with the word for in before them, because that's probably the most usual way to use them. However, months are masculine, and there are a few other expressions where you can use them with. For example:

ce janvier-this January
ce février-this February
cet avril-this April
en janvier dernier-last January
en juin prochain-next June
ce mois-this month
le mois prochain-next month
au mois de mars-in (the month of) March
de janvier à avril-from January to April
le 5 janvier-(on) the 5th of January, on January 5th
le mardi 5 janvier-(on) Tuesday the 5th of January
du vendredi 10 avril-from Friday the 10th of April
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In English, it sounds a little literary to say in the month of March, but the corresponding expression au mois de... is a bit more common in French. Note that if you ever say the day and month in full ("Tuesday the 5th of January"), then in French, you put the day of the week after le; French speakers wouldn't usually say mardi, le 5 janvier.

Some pronunciation difficulties to be aware of:

  • remember that the -s is pronounced on mars, and the -t is pronounced on aoôt (some dictionaries state that the pronunciation of the -t is optional, but nobody actually seems to know a French speaker who doesn't pronounce it...);
  • in juin and juillet, try and make the first vowel a glide between the French u sound and the French sound: essentially you keep your tongue high in the mouth, throughout this glide, moving the tongue from back to front and unrounding your lips as you bring the tongue forward.

Seasons

The seasons of the year in French are as follows:

au printemps-in spring
en été-in summer
en automne-in autumn, in (the) fall*
en hiver-in winter
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* Note that you don't pronounce the m in automne!

There are variations of these exrepssions in English. For example, you could say in wintertime, in the winter, in the wintertime etc. In French, life's a bit easier: it's usually just en plus the name of the season.

Here are some other season-related expressions in French. Note that if the name of the season isn't used with en or with ce, cet, then you must use an article le, l' (though as in the last example, you could use un where appropriate):

ce printemps-this spring
cet été-this summer
l'été dernier, en été dernier-last summer
l'été prochain, en été prochain-next summer
pendant l'été-during the summer
pendant l'été de 2005-in the summer of 2005
pendant les mois d'été-during the summer months
un été pluvieux-a rainy summer
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Page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright (c) Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.