Say bonjour to the days of the week in French: A beginner’s guide

Bonjour et bienvenue (hello and welcome) to a handy French lesson that will build your language skills as well as help you get to know culture français (French culture). The days of the week are essential for making plans with friends, scheduling appointments, and even ensuring you attend the right class. Fortunately, we’re here to help you master the days of the week in French so you can converse with confidence and comfort.

From pronunciation tips to cultural insights, this beginner’s guide will cover everything you need to know to get you through la semaine (the week). Merci (thank you) for joining us — now let’s get to know the days of the week (les jours de la semaine) in French!

Importance of learning days of the week in French

When you start learning a new language, the days of the week should be one of your first practice areas. Learning the days of the week in French is critical for making plans, keeping track of due dates, and telling your francophone friends about what you’ve been up to lately.

The good news is that it’s easy to learn, and with a little practice you’ll be able to describe your weekly schedule just like a local Parisian. No one expects you to be a pro right away, and you can always use iTranslate’s help as a lifeline to keep the conversation going.

Pronunciation tips for days of the week in French 

Proper pronunciation is key in any language, as it helps you communicate seamlessly and avoid confusion. Sometimes, a slight mispronunciation might indicate a different word entirely, so it’s important to make sure you’re enunciating correctly.

Familiarize yourself with this table to learn the English and French translations of the days of the week as well as the French abbreviation for each.

Mondaylundi (lun-dee)lun
Tuesdaymardi (mar-dee)mar
Wednesdaymercredi (mehr-cruh-dee)mer (mehr)
Thursdayjeudi (zhuh-dee)jeu (zhuh)
Fridayvendredi (van-druh-dee)ven (van)
Saturdaysamedi (sa-muh-dee)sam
Sundaydimanche (dee-mansh)dim (deem)

This handy table can help you keep track of the French translations of each day of the week and guide your pronunciation so you sound like a native speaker. Note that when writing in French, unlike in English, the days of the week don’t start with a capital letter unless they’re used to begin a sentence.

Nasal vowels

Correct pronunciation of the French days of the week — and many other French words — requires using nasal vowels, which rely on the surrounding sounds. When enunciating them, you let the air come out of your mouth and your nose at the same time. This can take some practice, but once you get the hang of it, nasal vowels will become second nature!

Overview of days of the week in French

Whereas Americans generally consider Sunday the first day of the week (and the opposite ‘end’ of the week from Saturday), the French calendar recognizes Monday (lundi) as the start of the week and Sunday (dimanche) as the end. In other words, Americans see the weekends as bookends, while French people consider the weekend (samedi and dimanche) the last two days of the week.

Monday: Lundi

The first day of the workweek and the week as a whole, the French translation for Monday is lundi (lun-dee). 

Je commence à travailler lundi

I start work on Monday

Lundi c’est mon anniversaire

Monday is my birthday

In 1972, French singer Claude François released an iconic song called Le lundi au soleil (which translates to A Monday in the sun or Sunny Monday) about wanting to enjoy himself and be with his lover instead of going through his daily tasks.

Tuesday: Mardi

Tuesday, which is mardi (mar-dee) in French, is just another day of the workweek. However, it is the namesake for Mardi gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday.

C’est seulement mardi ?

It’s only Tuesday?

Les mardis sont de longues journées

Tuesdays are long days

Wednesday: Mercredi

In France, Wednesday is translated as mercredi (mehr-cruh-dee) and is also known as le jour des enfants, or the day of children (or Children’s Day). It’s called this because on Wednesdays in France, children get out of school early or might not go at all, taking the time to play sports and pursue other activities.

Les enfants n’ont pas l’école mercredi

The kids don’t have school on Wednesday

Les mercredis sont mes préférés

Wednesdays are my favorite

Thursday: Jeudi

The French word for Thursday is jeudi (zhuh-dee), and like mardi, it’s not an especially significant day of the week. Some young people like to go out on jeudi soir (Thursday night) since there’s just one day left in the workweek.

Je reviens jeudi

I’ll be back on Thursday

Appelez-moi jeudi après-midi

Call me on Thursday afternoon

Friday: Vendredi

The last day of the workweek, Friday, is vendredi (van-druh-dee) in French. Depending on their jobs, some people may leave work a little early and get a head start on the weekend.

Dieu merci, c’est vendredi !

Thank God it’s Friday!

Le vendredi 13 arrive

Friday the 13th is coming up

Saturday: Samedi

Saturday, or samedi (sa-muh-dee), is the first day of the weekend, or le week-end. The literal translation of la fin de semaine (the end of the week) is used to describe the end of the week and may refer to Friday or even Thursday — so use le week-end to describe the two days following the workweek. If you’re American, that’s an easy one to remember!

Les samedis are generally for relaxing, spending time with the family, and going out to see friends.

Sortons samedi soir

Let’s go out Saturday night

Je suis tellement excitée pour samedi !

I’m so excited for Saturday!

Sunday: Dimanche

The second day of the weekend, dimanche (dee-mansh), is a good day to go out to eat, visit tourist sites, or simply hang out at home (or wherever you may be staying). Many non-essential shops will be closed, but restaurants, entertainment venues, and other leisure-related businesses generally remain open.

Je ne fais rien dimanche

I’m doing nothing on Sunday

Les dimanches ne sont pas pour le travail !

Sundays are not for work!

Using days of the week in sentences

The days of the week might come up more often than you think, and they can be integral to your conversations. Understanding the days of the week in French is crucial when you’re:

  • Talking about your schedule
  • Planning events and appointments
  • Discussing past and future events

Here are a few other French words that can be helpful when talking about relative time:

This (as in “this Monday”)Ce
Next (as in “next Monday”)Prochain
Last (as in “last Monday”)Dernier

Days of the week and gender rules in French

Like many languages other than English, French uses gendered articles to describe nouns. Instead of using simple articles like a, an, and the to talk about all people, places, and things as we do in English, the French language uses le, la, and les (the) and un, une, and des (a/an), depending on gender and plurality.

The (masculine)Le
The (feminine)La
The (plural)Les
A / An (masculine)Un
A / An (feminine)Une
Some (plural)Des

Days of the week are masculine nouns

In French, le jour (the day) and the names of each individual day of the week are masculine. When using an article before jour or any day of the week, you’ll always use the masculine le (the) or un (a/an). The way you use articles before French days of the week indicates whether you’re talking about a one-time event or a repeating occurrence, as we’ll discuss below.

The dayLe jour
A dayUn jour
On Sunday (every week)Le dimanche

Although days and their names are masculine, you can say la journée — with the feminine la — to represent a period of time rather than a definite point in time, like “during the day (at some point)” as opposed to a specific day, such as “on Thursday.” Additionally, the word for week itself is also feminine: la semaine.

I’ll call you during the day (at some point)Je t’appelle dans la journée
The weekLa semaine

Articles can mean repeating occurrences

Using the article “le” before a given day of the week implies that you’re talking about that day of every week, as in a repeating occurrence. You’d say le lundi when mentioning something that happens every Monday, but you’d leave the article out if you’re talking about plans you have for this Monday. You can achieve the same effect by pluralizing the day (e.g., les lundis).

I have class on MondaysJ’ai cours le lundi (single article)
Fridays are the bestLes vendredis sont les meilleurs (plural article)
I’ll visit you on TuesdayJe te rendrai visite mardi (no article)

Understanding the French calendar system

France follows the same Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world subscribe to. As we learned earlier, the French are among those who consider Monday the first day of the week. Understanding the French calendar system can help you stick to your plans as well as give you some deeper insight into French society.

Holidays and celebrations in France

Whether you’re traveling abroad and soaking in the culture or you want to make a new French friend feel at home in the United States, it helps to recognize the major holidays celebrated in France. If you’re living and working in France, it’s important to know how they might affect your work schedule, as major holidays pop up throughout quite a few months of the year.

Many French holidays are centered around religion — although France is a secular state now, it was previously rooted in Catholicism, and several of its public holidays are based on Roman Catholic traditions. Here’s a look at some of the major French holidays of 2023 (note that the date comes before the month, not after):

DateFrench HolidayEnglish Translation
1 JanuaryJour de l’anNew Year’s Day
7 AprilVendredi saintGood Friday
9 AprilDimanche de pâquesEaster Sunday
10 AprilLundi de pâquesEaster Monday
1 MayFête du travailLabor Day
8 MayFête de la victoire 1945WWII Victory Day
18 MayJour de l’AscensionAscension Day
28 MayPentecôtePentecost or Whit Sunday
4 June*Fête des mèresMother’s Day
18 JuneLa fête des pèresFather’s Day
14 JulyFête nationale de la FranceBastille Day
15 AugustAssomptionAssumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1 NovemberLa toussaintAll Saints’ Day
11 NovemberJour d’armisticeArmistice Day (Veterans Day in the US)
25 DecemberNoëlChristmas Day

*Mother’s Day is usually celebrated on the last Sunday in May; if that date overlaps with Pentecost (which comes 50 days after Easter), it moves to the first Sunday of June.

Get to know these French holidays so you know when you might have a long weekend from work, when to pay respects to veterans, and when to call your mom!

Tips for memorizing days of the week in French

If you’re having trouble telling lundi from vendredi, don’t panic; there are many tips and tricks you can use to memorize the days of the week in French. Let’s take a look at a few.

Mnemonics and memory aids

For starters, each day of the week ends in di, and in some cases, that’s already almost half of the word! The exception here is dimanche, in which case the di shows up at the beginning of the word.

If you’re a native Spanish speaker, or at least familiar with the Spanish days of the week, you’ll notice that each one starts with the same letter in both Spanish and French (and the week begins on Monday in both cases). Many of the names even sound similar (lundi and lunes; mardi and martes).

This similarity between French and Spanish is partially due to their linguistic history — both of these “romance languages” evolved from Latin and have roots in the Roman Empire (which is really why they’re called “romance languages”).

Knowing this, it may not be surprising that the five days of the workweek are named after Roman gods and, by extension, celestial objects like planets. Here’s how the namesakes break down:

Weekday in FrenchOriginWeekday in English
LundiLuna (Earth’s moon)Monday

The French names of the weekend days, however, are based on Latin terms related to Christianity.

Weekend in FrenchOriginWeekend in English
SamediSabbatum (day of the Sabbath)Saturday
DimancheDies Dominica (the Lord’s day)Sunday

If you want to keep the Roman god or planetary theme going, you can also associate samedi with Saturn. Dimanche is the only day of the week that starts with di instead of ending with it.

Practice activities and games

Knowing how to say (and correctly pronounce) the days of the week in French is a must, and the key to mastering this task is to practice, practice, practice. Whether you’re a fan of good old-fashioned flash cards or easy-to-learn songs, try naming the days of the week in French on a daily basis to build up muscle memory and ingrain the knowledge.

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