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3 Different Ways to Say “Time” in French

In this lesson we are going to learn about the various translations of “TIME” in French. Very often, one word in English can be translated into two or three or even more words in French. Time is a good example as it can be translated into three nouns in French: Temps, heure and fois but each has very specific uses and nuances.

“Temps” is usually used to talk about the passing of time. It is masculine and usually singular.

  • De temps en temps = From time to time
  • La plupart du temps = Most of the time
  • Perdre son temps = to waste his/her time

“Heure” is used to refer to clock time. It is feminine and can be used in the singular or plural.

  • Quelle heure est-il? = What time is it?
  • Il est trois heures = It is 3 o’clock*

*In English, you often leave out “o’clock” – it’s perfectly fine to say “It’s three”. Not so in French – you always have to say “its three hours” = il est trois heures

Note: Except for MIDDAY OR MIDNIGHT we say MIDI, MINUIT

“Fois” is used to refer to one or several instances of an event. It is feminine and can be used in the singular or plural.

  • Elle a téléphoné quatre fois aujourd’hui = She called four times today
  • C’est deux fois plus cher = It’s two times more expensive

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