Before I start my grammatical explanation on how to say the date in French, if what you were interested was “datING in French“, follow this link!
First, let’s go over some French expressions…
A – To say “today is”, in French we say “we are”
- Aujourd’hui, nous sommes lundi. Today is Monday.
- Quel jour sommes-nous ? What day is today ?
B – To ask what day is a future event, French uses the verb to be:
- Quel jour est le concert ? What day is the concert ?
- Quand c’est le concert ? When is the concert – street French
- Le concert est mardi. The concert is on Tuesday.
- C’est mardi. It’s Tuesday
C – To precise the day or the date in French, use these expressions:
- Noël tombe quel jour cette année ? Christmas is going to be on what day this year?
- Ton anniversaire est le combien ? What is the date of your birthday ?
- C’est le 16. It’s the 16th.
Please also note that Days of the weeks and months are not uppercase in French.
To learn the basic French expressions used for dates such as the days of the weeks, the months, and their correct modern French pronunciation, I invite you to check out my downloadable audio method for beginners: À Moi Paris Beginner Level.
Now let’s see some foolproof constructions to express the date in French:
A new approach to learning both traditional and modern French logically structured for English speakers.
2 – When You Use the Day of the Week in Your Date
When You Use the Day of the Week, In French, don’t use “le” + day of the week
- J’ai un rendez-vous chez mon dentiste mardi 3 octobre. (not le mardi 3 octobre)
- Samedi, j’ai dîné avec Henri. (not le samedi)
- Aujourd’hui, nous sommes jeudi 15 mai 2016. (not le jeudi)
- Mon anniversaire est mercredi. (not le mercredi)
Let me insist, since I hear many mistakes with that part.
- Don’t say: sur le samedi, en samedi, le samedi, sur samedi, au samedi… j’ai dîné avec Henri.
- Do say: samedi, j’ai dîné avec Henri.
If you use the construction LE + DAY it means something that you do every week on that day.
- Le lundi, je dîne toujours au restaurant. (every Monday).
- J’ai une classe de français le vendredi. (on Fridays).
Full disclosure… Yes, saying “le mardi 3 octobre” is absolutely possible in French. But so is saying “mardi 3 octobre”… So I offer a shortcut. A way to avoid making a mistake. When you use the day of the week, don’t use “le”, unless you want to say you do it every week on that day. Just remember: day of the week, no le, and you’ll avoid a common mistake!
3 – When You Don’t Use the Day of the Week in Your Sentence
In French, use the construction: LE + NUMBER + MONTH + YEAR
- J’ai un rendez-vous chez le dentiste le 3 octobre.
- Le 6, je dîne avec Henri.
- Aujourd’hui, nous sommes le 15 mai 2016.
- Mon anniversaire est le 16.
When you don’t have the day of the week, then you need to introduce the date (the number) with le.
4 – When You Use Only the Month or the Year
In French, use the constructions:
EN + MONTH + YEAR
EN + YEAR
- J’ai un rendez-vous chez le dentiste en octobre.
- Nous sommes en mai 2016.
- En 2011, je vais aller à Paris.
5 – An Versus Année
There are two words to say “year” in French.
- “Un an” (note the strong liaison in N, making it sound like “un nan”)
- “Une année”
“An” is usually used with a number, when saying your age or counting years.
- J’ai 44 ans. I’m 44.
- Je suis allée en France il y a deux ans. I went to France 2 years ago.
“Année” is used to describe the whole year span: it is mostly used in expressions such as “l’année dernière / prochaine”, “toute l’année” (all year long).
- Je vais en France tous les ans – I’m going to France every year.
- J’ai étudié le passé-composé toute l’année – I spent the whole year studying passé-composé.
So, for the expressions using an / année, it’s mostly a question of memorizing them.
You may also be interested in my articles about New Year’s Eve in France and Making New Year’s Resolutions in French.
6 – Why Do I Hear Dix-Neuf-Cent Used For Dates in French?
We usually say the year part of a date just as we would say a number in the thousands, for example :
– 1990 Mille-neuf-cent-quatre-vingt-dix.
– 2021 Deux-mille-vingt-et-un
However, it’s also common to say dix-neuf-cent-quatre-vingt-dix.
This way is a bit old-fashioned and mostly used to talk about historic dates.
Besides, I’ve never heard anybody say “vingt-cent-vingt-et-un” for example… And for some reason, it doesn’t sound good at all, I don’t know why but I don’t think it’s possible to say it this way.
If you are talking about the nineties, then we’d say: “les années quatre-vingt-dix”.
7 – What About Dating in French?
Since we are on the subject of dates, let’s not disappoint people who searched for “Date French” looking for advise on “how to date in French” and found this grammar article!
I wrote two articles about dating in French, since the way French people date is quite different from the American way.
I invite you to read my articles – exclusively available on my French Today:
- How to Ask Someone Out on a Date in French?
- Why French Women Don’t Date – the French Dating System Explained.
I post new articles every week, so make sure you subscribe to the French Today newsletter – or follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.