Are you planning a trip to France and worrying about making yourself understood in the local language? I hear you! I grew up bilingual in Italian and French because my mother is French mother tongue but since I’ve always lived in Italy, I admit that the French language is hard! One of the first and most important things you should learn is the days of the week in French.
Whether you are taking a short holiday in Provence or are planning a longer stay in France, you are going to need the days of the week to plan your travels, book a hotel or a restaurant, and schedule an appointment with friends, colleagues, or your doctor.
Learning the days of the week in French is really something you can’t overlook. Thankfully, it’s very easy to remember them.
In this easy guide, I’m going to explain the origins of the names, tell you exactly how to pronounce them, and give you plenty of examples and a richer glossary to use them and be confident in your future conversations. As fun trivia, I will mention some French proverbs and even link to a children’s song about the days of the week to memorize them quicker.
Translation and pronunciation of the days of the week in French: easy table
|French day of the week||Pronunciation||English translation|
How to pronounce the days of the week in French: audio
The French weekdays: the origin of the names
The days of the week in French have been named after the planets like the ancient Romans used to do. Unlike the English version, in French, the days of the week don’t start with a capital letter. Being French a Neo-Latin language, the names are somehow similar to the days of the week in Italian.
So where in Italian you have “lunedì” for Monday, in French, it’s “lundi”, “martedì” (Tuesday) in Italian becomes “mardi” in French. The only one that differs a little more is Saturday: “sabato” in Italian and “samedi” in French.
|Day of the week||Latin version||Name’s origins|
|Lundi||Dies Lunae||The day of the Moon|
|Mardi||Dies Martis||The day of Mars|
|Mercredi||Dies Mercurii||The day of Mercury|
|Jeudi||Dies Iovis||The day of Jupiter|
|Vendredi||Dies Veneris||The day of Venus|
|Samedi||Dies Saturni||The day of Saturn|
|Dimanche||Dies Solis||The day of the Sun /|
The day of the Lord
The last two days of the week, Saturday and Sunday, in French samedi and dimanche, were initially devoted to pagan gods or planets like the others but once Christianity started to spread in Europe, were changed according to the newly adopted religion.
This is how in many neo-Latin languages such as Spanish and Portuguese, the word “shabbat” (day of rest in Hebrew), replaced the pagan name. In French, it became samedi, in Italian, sabato, in Spanish and Portuguese, sábado, and in the Sardinian language sàbadu, from the Latin sambati dies, day of sabbat.
Similarly to the other Neo-Latin languages, also Sunday has been adapted to the local religious beliefs. So, instead of “the day of the Sun” like it still is in English, it became “the day of the Lord”. In French, this is “dimanche” from the Latin “dies dominicus“.
How to use the days of the week in French: common examples and sentences
Drop the “on”
Unlike in English, when using the days of the week in French, you don’t need to use “on”. Here are some examples:
- See you on Monday >> On se voit lundi / À lundi
- On Sundays, I go to church >> Le dimanche, je vais à l’église
- On Saturday, I’m going to the park >> Samedi je vais au parc
With vs without the article
Unlike in English, the days of the week in French sometimes require an article. Usually, if you are talking about a specific day, you don’t need to start with the article. On the other hand, if the day is mentioned as a routine, you should. Here are a few examples.
- I hate Mondays >> Je déteste le lundi
- Saturday, I go to school >> Samedi je vais à l’école
How do you use “Le” with days of the week in French?
If you are talking about something that you regularly do on the same day, for example always on Monday, or every Tuesday, when using the days of the week in French, you will use “le” in the format “le + day in the singular form”.
In English, this corresponds to the phrasal structure “on + a day of the week in the plural form”, so “on Sundays, on Thursdays”. Here are some examples:
- On Thursdays, I have piano lessons >> Le jeudi j’ai cours de piano
- On Wednesdays, I play volleyball >> Le mercredi je joue au volley
Which day? Last, this, or next?
To specify which day you mean, you can ask:
- Quel mardi? (Which Tuesday?) or Quel jour? (Which day?)
And the answer is likely to be one of these:
- Ce lundi >> This Monday
- Mercredi prochain >> Next Wednesday
- Jeudi dernier >> Last Thursday
Masculine or feminine?
All the weekdays in French are masculine, so if you are pronouncing a sentence with the article, you need to use “le” (singular masculine) or “les” (plural). So you will have:
- Le lundi
- Le mardi
- Le mercredi
- Le jeudi
- Le vendredi
- Le samedi
- Le dimanche
More week- and day-related words + phrases (with audio)
Here are some other words strictly connected with the French days of the week that you are likely to find in common sentences.
- Today >> Aujourd’hui
- Yesterday >> Hier
- Tomorrow >> Demain
- Weekend >> Fin de semaine
- This morning >> Ce matin
- Last night >> La nuit dernière
- Tomorrow afternoon >> Demain après-midi
- This evening >> Ce soir
- Morning >> Matin
- Evening >> Soir
- Afternoon >> Après-midi
- Night >> Nuit
- Good night >> Bonne nuit
- Good morning >> Bonjour
- What day is today? >> Quel jour sommes-nous aujourd’hui?
- I will call you tomorrow >> Je vais t’appeler demain
- On Easter day, schools are closed >> Le jour de Pâques, les écoles sont fermées
- Last night, I couldn’t sleep >> La nuit dernière je n’ai pas trop dormi
- Yesterday, he turned 20 >> Il a eu vingt ans hier
- From tomorrow, I’ll be on holiday >> À partir de demain, je serai en vacances
- Next weekend, I’m off to Italy >> La fin de semaine prochaine, je pars en Italie
How do you say “days of the week” in French?
The word “day” translates in French into “jour” and since it’s plural, it becomes “jours”. The word “week” translates into “semaine”. So, “days of the week” in French translates into “les jours de la semaine”. Here is how you pronounce it:
Traditional sayings with the days of the week in French
- Petit lundi, grosse semaine. This translates into “small Monday, fat week”, and means
- Jeudi arrive, et la semaine est finie. This roughly translates into “when Thursday arrives, the week is over”.
- Le dimanche efface la rouille de toute la semaine. This translates into “Sunday deletes the rust of the whole week”.
- La semaine du travailleur a sept jours, la semaine du paresseux a sept demains. This means “the worker’s week has seven days, the week of the lazy has seven tomorrows”.
French children’s song to learn the days of the week in French (video)
Les canards vont à la mare, mare, mare…
Ils s’en vont jusqu’à la mer, mer, mer…
Ils organisent un grand jeu, jeu, jeu…
Ils se promènent dans le vent, vent, vent…
Ils se dandinent comme ça, ça, ça…
Ils se lavent à ce qu’on dit, dit, dit…
Ils se reposent et voient la vie en rose…
La semaine recommencera demain, coin, coin.