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How to say Year in French – An vs Année

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Jan 6, 2021

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.

Knowing when to use “an” vs “année” in French is often tricky for students. In this free lesson, I’ll explain how to translate year in French, give you examples and then list common expressions using an and année.

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 with cardinal numbers (one, two, three..). It’s also use with frequency: saying how many times per year you do something.

  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.
  3. Je vais en France deux fois par an.
    I go to France twice a year.

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

“Année” is used to describe the whole year span, and is mostly used with ordinal numbers (first, second, third…) in expressions introducing indefinite quantities (several years, thousands of years…), and other time 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
  8. Combien d’années: how many years?
  9. Des centaines d’années: hundreds of years
  10. Plusieurs années: several years

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”

Contrast: 

  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?

There are many ways to wish someone “Happy New Year” in French. The most common one would be: Je te/vous souhaite une joyeuse année. You’ll find more examples with audio in my article about the New Year in France.

New Year’s day is “le jour du nouvel an”.

Now, let’s look at expressions using an / année. As it’s often the case with expressions, why we use “an” or “année” is not always logical there… so it comes down to memorizing them.

4 – Expressions using An and Année in French

Let’s start with the French expressions using “an”.

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

Now let’s see the French expressions with “année”.

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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