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How to say Year in French – An vs Année

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Jul 7, 2020

How do you say year in French? What is the difference between an and année? French expressions with an and année & how to say happy new year in French.

1 – How To Say ‘Year’ In French?

Year in French is translated as “un an” (masculine) or “une année”, and they are not interchangeable.

2 – “An” versus “Année”

A – When do you say “an” for ‘year’ in French

“An” is usually used with a number, when saying your age or counting years. It refers to time as a unit.

  1. J’ai 47 ans.
    I’m 47.
  2. Je suis allée en France il y a deux ans.
    I went to France 2 years ago.

B – When do you say “année” for ‘year’ in French

“Année” is used to describe the whole year span, and is mostly used in expressions such as:

  1. l’année dernière : last year
  2. l’année prochaine : next year
  3. chaque année : each year
  4. toute l’année: the whole year
  5. “l’année dernière / prochaine” (last year/ next year), “toute l’année” (all year long)…
  6. Quelle année: which year?
  7. Cette année: this year

L’année dernière, je suis allée faire une immersion de français chez un prof en France.
Last year, I went for a residential French immersion at a teacher’s in France

C – “An” versus “année”


  1. Je vais en France tous les ans
    I’m going to France every year
  2. J’ai étudié le passé-composé toute l’année
    I spent the whole year studying passé-composé

3 – How to say “Happy New Year” in French?

To wish someone a happy New Year, we’d say: “joyeuse année nouvelle”, “je vous souhaite une joyeuse année.

However, New Year’s day is “le jour du nouvel an”. Read more about French Season’s greetings in my article about the New Year in France.

I know… it doesn’t make much sense. For the expressions using an / année, it’s mostly a question of memorizing them.

4 – Expressions using An and Année in French

A – French Expressions with “an”

  1. deux, trois, quatre fois par an: twice, three times, four times a year
  2. tous les ans: every year
  3. avoir 10, 20, 30 ans: to be 10, 20, 30 (years old)
  4. en l’an X avant Jésus-Christ: (in the year) X BC
  5. en l’an X de notre ère: (in the year) X AD
  6. en l’an de grâce X : in the year X of Our Lord
  7. le jour de l’An: New Year’s Day
  8. le Nouvel An: New Year’s Day, the New Year
  9. le Premier de l’an: New Year’s Day, the first of the year
  10. s’en moquer comme de l’an quarante: to not care less about, to not give a darn about
  11. s’en soucier comme de l’an quarante: to not care less about, to not give a darn about

B – French Expressions with “année”

  1. une année bissextile: leap year
  2. une année calendaire: calendar year
  3. une année scolaire: school year
  4. une année-lumière: light year
  5. les années de famine, sècheresse, guerre, paix… years of famine, drought, war, peace…
  6. les années soixante: soixante-dix: the sixties, seventies
  7. les années folles: Roaring Twenties
  8. Bonne Année ! Happy New Year!
  9. Bonne année et bonne santé ! Happy New Year (and good health)
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