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100 Must-Know French Nouns

Thumbnail Do you know that the sun, a world, or a spider are guys, while moons, tables, and legs are girls? And these are only a few family-friendly examples of the French nouns genders’ oddity. Wait until you learn about the male and female genital words and their counter-intuitive genders.

Figuring out which are the feminine nouns in French is one of the trickiest aspects of the language, and so is the formation of plural nouns, but bear with me for a little while and you’ll learn a collection of useful tricks to help you wrap your head around it!

In this guide, you’ll find a list of the 100 most common and useful French nouns and how to use them. For each of these words, I’ve included the gender, plural form, translation, and example sentences. If you manage to memorize most of the items on this French nouns list, you’ll be pretty far along on your way to talking about a great many things!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Gender and Plural
  2. About Time
  3. Places
  4. Technology & Internet
  5. Home, Sweet Home
  6. City & Transports
  7. Family & Friends
  8. Body Parts
  9. Food & Utensils
  10. Occupation
  11. Clothing Items
  12. Bonus: Communication
  13. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French


1. Gender and Plural

Scattered Word Magnets

Le vocabulaire (“Vocabulary”)

1- How do you know if a French word is masculine or feminine?

French nouns are either masculine or feminine.

For instance, le soleil (“the sun”) is masculine, while la lune (“the moon”) is feminine.

The question of why une araignée (“a spider”) is female and un cafard (“a cockroach”) is male doesn’t matter as much as: How do I know which gender it is?

Luckily, it’s generally quite straightforward, and based on the final letters of a word, you can guess its gender. The rule isn’t entirely accurate, but as you get used to these typical masculine and feminine endings, you’ll be able to make good guesses.

      Usually feminine endings:
      Most words ending in -e or -ion
      • Une lune; une année; une semaine
      • Une nation; une division
      Except words ending in -age, -ege, , -isme
      Usually masculine endings:
      Words ending in -age, -ege, , -isme

      + Everything else.
      • Un mariage; un été
      • Un jour; un parc; un nain
      Should you learn all of these endings by heart? I don’t believe so.
      1. It would be a tedious and super-boring process.
      2. This is not how native speakers learn the words’ genders.


      If you’re wondering how to remember French nouns’ gender, I instead encourage you to ALWAYS learn new nouns with their article.
      • Soleil Un soleil (“A sun”)
      • Lune Une lune (“A moon”)


      You can also memorize them with a definite article. It’s just a matter of preference.
      • Le soleil (“The sun”)
      • La lune (“The moon”)
      Man and Woman Arguing

      The gender war is declared.

      2- How to make French nouns plural

      For most nouns, simply add an -s at the end of the word.
      • Un an -> des ans
      • Un jour -> des jours


      Nouns ending in -au become -aux.
      • Un bateau -> des bateaux


      Nouns ending in -ou usually become -ous, but some take a -oux.
      • Un fou -> des fous
      • Un bijou -> des bijoux


      Nouns ending in -al become -aux.
      • Un animal -> des animaux


      Finally, nouns ending in -s, -x, or -z are invariable.
      • Une souris -> des souris
      • Un lynx -> des lynx
      • Un nez -> des nez


      Now that we’ve learned how to determine the gender of French nouns and how to make them plural, let’s move on to our 100 French nouns list!

      2. About Time

      Nouns 1
      Un an; des ans
      “Year”

      Une année; des années
      “Year”
      Nous vivons ici depuis dix ans.
      “We have been living here for ten years.”

      Nous vivons ici depuis plusieurs années.
      “We have been living here for several years.”
      An is mainly used when there is a number involved:
      • J’ai 35 ans. (“I’m 35 years old.”)
      • Trois fois par an (“Three times per year”)
      Année is used in most other cases:
      • Je voyage chaque année. (“I travel every year.”)
      • L’année dernière, j’ai arrêté de fumer. (“Last year, I stopped smoking.”)
      Une semaine; des semaines
      “Week”

      A la semaine prochaine !
      “See you next week!”
      Un mois; des mois
      “Month”
      Le mois de juillet est souvent ensoleillé.
      “The month of July is often sunny.”
      Un jour; des jours
      “Day”
      Je viendrai dans trois jours.
      “I will come in three days.”
      Une heure; des heures
      “Hour”
      Ce film dure trois heures.
      “This movie is three hours long.”
      Quick Tip: How to tell time?

      In France, you can use the twelve- or twenty-four-hour system.
      • Quelle heure est-il ? (“What time is it?”)
      • Il est seize heures et demi. (“It is 4:30 PM.” Literally: “It is 16 and half.”)
      • Il est huit heures trente cinq. (“It is 8:35.”)
      Une minute; des minutes
      “Minute”
      Laisse moi deux minutes et on y va !
      “Give me two minutes and let’s go!”
      Un temps; des temps
      “Time”
      Je n’ai pas le temps.
      “I don’t have the time.”

        → Make sure to visit our full article about Time as well as our vocabulary list on Talking About Time, with audio recordings to practice your pronunciation. It’s freely available on FrenchPod101!


      Lots of Clocks

      Une question de temps (“A matter of time”)

      3. Places



      Un monde; des mondes
      “World”
      La plus belle plage du monde.
      “The most beautiful beach in the world.”
      Un pays; des pays
      “Country”

      Tu as visité de nombreux pays.
      “You have visited many countries.”
      Un endroit; des endroits
      “Place”
      J’adore cet endroit !
      “I love this place!”
      In Quebec, where French is a bit different, a place is une place.
      • Montréal est un endroit une place que j’aime beaucoup
        “Montreal is a place that I like very much.”
      In France, une place means “a square,” as in La place centrale (“The main square”).
      Une région; des régions
      “Region”
      C’est le plat typique de ma région.
      “This is the typical dish of my region.”
      Une mer; des mers
      “Sea”
      La mer du nord est un peu froide.
      “The northern sea is a bit cold.”
      Une forêt; des forêts
      “Forest”
      Il s’est perdu dans la forêt.
      “He got lost in the forest.”
      Une montagne; des montagnes
      “Mountain”
      Des vacances à la montagne
      “Mountain vacations”
      Un magasin; des magasins
      “Shop”
      Tu peux en acheter dans ce magasin.
      “You can buy some in this shop.”
      Une banque; des banques
      “Bank”
      J’ai besoin de retirer de l’argent à la banque.
      “I need to withdraw some cash at the bank.”
      Un parc; des parcs
      “Park”
      On se retrouve dans le parc ?
      “Shall we meet in the park?”

        → Learn more about how to navigate French cities with our free vocabulary list on places Around Town.


      4. Technology & Internet

      Nouns 2
      Un téléphone; des téléphones
      “Phone”
      Je te donne mon numéro de téléphone.
      “I’ll give you my phone number.”
      Un portable; des portables
      “Mobile phone”
      Tu me donnes ton numéro de portable ?
      “Can you give me your mobile phone number?”
      Portable VS. Mobile VS. Laptop

      A common source of confusion, even among natives, is the word portable meaning “mobile phone” and “laptop.”

      One way to avoid the confusion is to use un mobile or un smartphone instead of un portable when talking about mobile phones. Younger generations also tend to use laptop instead of portable.

      To be fair, it’s usually easy to guess from the context.
      Un ordinateur; des ordinateurs
      “Computer”
      Mon ordinateur est un PC.
      “My computer is a PC.”
      Fun fact: PC is also the acronym for the French communist party: Parti Communiste.
      Is there any risk of ever confusing these two? I wouldn’t bet on it.
      Une tablette; des tablettes
      “Tablet”
      Tu as installé l’app sur ta tablette ?
      “Did you install the app on your tablet?”
      Une télé; des télés
      “TV”
      Il y a quoi à la télé, ce soir ?
      “What’s on TV tonight?”
      Télévision, Télé, or TV?

      While Télévision is the full word, it’s rarely used in conversations; Télé is far more popular. TV is mainly used in writing.

      Un chargeur,;des chargeurs
      “Charger”
      Je peux emprunter ton chargeur ?
      “Can I borrow your charger?”
      Internet
      “Internet”
      On n’a pas internet, dans ce petit village.
      “We don’t have internet in this small village.”
      Internet (with a capital “I”), internet, or l’internet?

      Short answer: Whatever you like!

      (But use “internet” if you wanna sound cool. L’internet is for your grandpa.)

      Long answer: According to the Académie Française (official patron of the French language), you can use both. However, there was an attempt in 2016 at the national assembly to officialize l’internet over “internet.” Thank goodness, the bill didn’t pass.
      Un site web; des sites web
      “A website”
      On ira voir sur le site web de la mairie.
      “We’ll check on the city hall’s website.”
      Site or Site web? Whichever.
      • On ira voir sur le site de la mairie.
        “We’ll check on the city hall’s website.”
      Un compte; des comptes
      “Account”
      Tu as un compte Skype ?
      “Do you have a Skype account?”
      Un mot de passe; des mots de passe
      “Password”
      Je dois réinitialiser mon mot de passe.
      “I need to reset my password.”
      How do you say “login?”
      We often say login, but you can equally say identifiant.
      Un fichier; des fichiers
      “File”
      J’ai copié les fichiers sur ma clef USB.
      “I copied the files on my USB drive.”
      Un logiciel; des logiciels
      “Software”
      Tu peux installer ce logiciel.
      “You can install this software.”

        → Appliances and technology are a vast topic and I’m just scratching the surface here! Don’t miss any words with our free vocabulary lists on Home Appliances, Technology, and the Internet.

      A Mobile Phone being Used in Front of a Laptop

      La technologie (“Technology”)

      5. Home, Sweet Home


      Une maison; des maisons
      “House”; “Home”
      On rentre à la maison.
      “We’re going home.”
      Une porte; des portes
      “Door”
      La première porte à gauche
      “The first door on the left”
      Une fenêtre; des fenêtres
      “Window”
      Les cambrioleurs ont cassé une fenêtre.
      “Burglars have broken a window.”
      Un frigo; des frigos
      “A fridge”
      Ne mettez jamais de vin rouge au frigo !
      “Don’t ever put red wine in the fridge!”
      Ideally, before and after it has been opened, you should keep it out of light and at room temperature.
      Une armoire; des armoires
      “Closet”
      On a besoin d’une nouvelle armoire.
      “We need a new closet.”
      Une pièce; des pièces
      “Room”
      Ce serait bien d’avoir une pièce en plus.
      “It would be nice to have one more room.”
      Une cuisine; des cuisines
      “Kitchen”
      N’oublie pas d’aérer la cuisine.
      “Don’t forget to ventilate the kitchen.”
      Cuisine also means…well, “Cuisine.” #CaptainObvious
      • J’aime la cuisine indienne. 
        “I love Indian cuisine.”
      Un salon; des salons
      “Living room”
      On va prendre l’apéro dans le salon.
      “We’ll take the aperitif in the living room.”
      Une chambre; des chambres
      “Bedroom”
      Ma chambre a un plafond intéressant.
      “My bedroom has an interesting ceiling.”
      Des toilettes (invariable)
      “Toilets”
      Où sont les toilettes ?
      “Where are the toilets?”
      We also use WC, for “water closet.”
      Une salle de bain; des salles de bain
      “Bathroom”
      Il y a une autre salle de bain à l’étage.
      “There is another bathroom upstairs.”


      6. City & Transports

      Nouns 3
      Une voiture; des voitures
      “Car”
      J’ai vendu ma voiture.
      “I’ve sold my car.”
      Un bus; des bus
      “Bus”
      Je prends souvent le bus.
      “I often take the bus.”
      Un train; des trains
      “Train”
      Je voyage parfois en train.
      “I sometimes travel by train.”
      Un avion; des avions
      “Plane”
      J’évite surtout de prendre l’avion.
      “I especially avoid taking planes.”
      Un taxi; des taxis
      “Taxi”; “Cab”
      Tu peux m’appeler un taxi ?
      “Can you call me a cab?”
      Un vélo; des vélos
      “Bicycle”
      Un vélo de course.
      “A racing bicycle.”
      Vélo is short for vélocipède, a word so popular that I learned about it two minutes ago.
      Une ville; des villes
      “City”; “Town”
      On se promène en ville.
      “We’re strolling in town.”
      Une rue; des rues
      “Street”
      Une rue piétonne
      “A walking street”
      Une avenue; des avenues
      “Avenue”
      L’avenue principale
      “The main avenue”
      Une route; des routes
      “Road”
      Les routes de campagne sont tranquilles.
      “Countryside roads are quiet.”
      A Bus

      Les transports en commun (“Public transports”)

      7. Family & Friends


      Une mère; des mères
      “Mother”

      Aujourd’hui, c’est la fête des mères.
      “Today is Mother’s Day.”
      Ma maman 
      “My mom”
      Un père; des pères
      “Father”
      Luke, je suis ton père.
      “Luke, I am your father.”
      Mon papa 
      “My dad”
      Une femme; des femmes
      “Wife” (literally: “Woman”)
      Ma femme a toujours raison.
      “My wife is always right.”
      You can also say Mon épouse (formal) or Ma conjointe (super-formal).
      Un mari; des maris
      “Husband”
      Son mari est enseignant.
      “Her husband is a teacher.”
      You can also say Mon époux (formal) or Mon conjoint (super-formal).
      Un frère; des frères
      “Brother”
      Il t’aime comme un frère.
      “He loves you like a brother.”
      Une soeur; des soeurs
      “Sister”
      J’ai deux soeurs et un frère.
      “I have two sisters and one brother.”
      Une famille; des familles
      “Family”
      Je passe Noël avec ma famille.
      “I spend Christmas with my family.”
      You can also use un parent/des parents, but don’t confuse mon parent (“my relative”) and mes parents (“my parents”).

      Un parent (“a relative”) or des parents (“relatives”) both refer to relatives of any kind, while mes parents (possessive plural) means: “my parents” (mom and dad).
      • Je vais voir mes parents. 
        “I’m going to see my parents.”

      • J’ai des parents dans la région. 
        “I have relatives in the region.”
      Une copine; des copines
      “Girlfriend”

      Un copain; des copains
      “Boyfriend”

      Je vais au cinéma avec ma copine.
      “I’m going to the cinema with my girlfriend.”

      Laisse tomber, j’ai un copain.
      “Let it go, I have a boyfriend.”
      The word copain / copine also means “buddy.” It depends on the context, but it can be confusing even for locals. (Just like when American women talk about their “girlfriends.”)

      The general rule is:
      • When you say un copain, it means “a buddy” or “a pal.”
      • When you say mon copain, it means “my boyfriend.”
      Un fils; des fils
      “Son”

      Nous sommes les fils de la Terre.
      “We are the sons of the Earth.”
      Une fille; des filles
      “Daughter” (Literally: “Girl”)
      Ma fille aînée.
      “My elder daughter.”
      Un ami; des amis
      “Friend”
      Tu es mon meilleur ami.
      “You’re my best friend.”

        → To read more about the rest of the family, check out our free vocabulary list on Family Members. And be sure not to miss our special article about The French Family to learn everything on this important topic, from the vocabulary to the cultural aspect of it!

      8. Body Parts


      Une tête; des têtes
      “Head”
      Un chasseur de têtes
      “A headhunter”
      Un oeil; des yeux
      “Eye”
      Tu as de très beaux yeux.
      “You have very beautiful eyes.”
      Une bouche; des bouches
      “Mouth”
      Ouvre la bouche.
      “Open your mouth.”
      Un nez; des nez
      “Nose”
      Un piercing au nez.
      “A nose piercing.”
      The French don’t stand toe to toe, but nose to nose.
      • Il se trouve nez à nez avec elle. 
        “He’s standing toe to toe with her.”
      However, in French, this expression doesn’t necessarily involve a conflict or competition. It means that you unexpectedly end up right in front of that person.
      Un cheveu; des cheveux
      “Hair”
      Elle a les cheveux courts.
      “She has short hair.”
      Un bras; des bras
      “Arm”
      Viens dans mes bras.
      “Come into my arms.”
      Une main; des mains
      “Hand”
      Les mains en l’air !
      “Put your hands in the air!”
      The French don’t wear their heart on their sleeve; they have it on their hand.
      • Il a le coeur sur la main. 
        “He’s wearing his heart on his sleeve.”
      Une jambe; des jambes
      “Leg”
      Je me suis cassé la jambe.
      “I broke my leg.”
      Un pied; des pieds
      “Foot”
      J’ai déjà un pied dans la tombe.
      “I already have one foot in the grave.”
      In France, don’t put your foot in your mouth; put it in the dish.
      • J’ai mis les pieds dans le plat. 
        “I put my foot in my mouth.”

        → Practice your French anatomy by reviewing our free vocabulary list on Body Parts, with audio recordings to improve your pronunciation!

      Anatomical Model of a Human

      L’anatomie (“Anatomy”)

      9. Food & Utensils


      Un couteau; des couteaux
      “Knife”
      Un couteau à fromage
      “A cheese knife”
      Une fourchette; des fourchettes
      “Fork”
      J’ai besoin d’une plus grande fourchette.
      “I need a bigger fork.”
      Une cuillère; des cuillères
      “Spoon”
      Une cuillère à soupe d’huile
      “A tablespoon of oil”
      Une assiette; des assiettes
      “Plate”
      Une assiette de charcuterie
      “A plate of cold cuts”
      Un verre; des verres
      “Glass”
      Tu mérites un verre de vin.
      “You deserve a glass of wine.”
      Une eau; des eaux
      “Water”
      Je voudrais une carafe d’eau, s’il vous plait.
      “I would like a jug of water, please.”
      Un vin; des vins
      “Wine”
      Une cave à vin
      “A wine cellar”
      Un fruit; des fruits
      “Fruit”
      Un jus de fruit
      “A fruit juice”
      Un légume; des légumes
      “Vegetable”
      Je mange des légumes une fois par semaine.
      “I eat vegetables once a week.”
      Une viande; des viandes
      “Meat”
      Viande ou poisson ?
      “Meat or fish?”


      10. Occupation


      Nouns 4
      Un étudiant; des étudiants
      “Student”
      C’est un très bon étudiant.
      “He’s a very good student.”

      Un docteur; des docteurs
      “Doctor”; “Physician”
      Vous avez besoin d’une ordonnance du médecin.
      “You need a doctor’s prescription.”
      The most common word for “physician” is médecin.
      Un policier; des policiers
      “Police officer”
      Mon frère est policier.
      “My brother is a police officer.”
      Un professeur; des professeurs
      “Teacher”
      Je veux devenir professeur de Russe.
      “I want to be a Russian teacher.”
      Un avocat; des avocats
      “Lawyer”
      Je ne parlerai pas sans mon avocat.
      “I will not talk without my lawyer.”
      Avocat also means “Avocado.” Any risk of confusion? Not sure.
      • Je ne parlerai pas sans mon avocat. 
        “I will not talk without my avocado.”
      Un serveur; des serveurs
      “Waiter”
      La serveuse a pris notre commande.
      “The waitress has taken our order.”

        → Find your profession and your friends’ jobs on our free vocabulary lists: Jobs and Work. We also have a complete article on How to Find Jobs in France. Check it out!

      Group of People with Different Jobs

      Quelle est votre profession? (“What is your profession?”)

      11. Clothing Items


      Un pantalon; des pantalons
      “Pants”
      Un pantalon en cuir
      “Leather pants”
      Un pull; des pulls
      “Sweater”
      Un pull en laine
      “A wool sweater”
      Un T-shirt; des T-shirts
      “T-shirt”
      J’enfile un T-shirt propre.
      “I’m putting a clean T-shirt on.”
      Une chemise; des chemises
      “Shirt”
      Enlève ta chemise.
      “Take off your shirt.”
      Un manteau; des manteaux
      “Coat”
      J’ai laissé mon manteau dans la voiture.
      “I’ve left my coat in the car.”
      Une chaussette; des chaussettes
      “Sock”
      Mes chaussettes rouges et jaunes
      “My red-and-yellow socks”
      Une robe; des robes
      “Dress”
      Une robe en soie
      “A silk dress”
      Une chaussure; des chaussures
      “Shoe”
      Des chaussures de randonnée
      “Hiking shoes”


      12. Bonus: Communication


      Une question; des questions
      “Question”
      C’était une question rhétorique.
      “It was a rhetorical question.”
      Une réponse; des réponses
      “Answer”
      J’exige des réponses !
      “I demand answers!”
      Un mot; des mots
      “Word”
      Je ne trouve pas les mots.
      “I can’t find the words.”
      Une phrase; des phrases
      “Sentence”
      Je ne comprends pas cette phrase.
      “I don’t understand this sentence.”
      Une idée; des idées
      “Idea”
      C’est une très bonne idée !
      “This is a very good idea!”

      13. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French


      In this French nouns lesson and guide, you’ve learned everything there is to know about French nouns, from the feminine nouns in French to the rules of forming plurals. You’ve also learned the key French nouns with our extensive noun list.

      Did we forget any important noun that you know? Do you feel ready to explore new conversation topics with your French friends, using everything you’ve learned today?

      A good way to practice the words on our basic French nouns list is to start simple, then add more flavor with adjectives.

      Adding adjectives to common French nouns will also help you remember the nouns’ gender, as many French adjectives have different forms in feminine or masculine:
      • Une pomme (“An apple”)
      • Une pomme verte (“A green apple”)


      Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to revisit the words and learn their pronunciation.

      Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice using French nouns with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with your pronunciation.

      Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

      French Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in French & More

      Thumbnail

      Have you ever stopped to ponder on how much our lives revolve around defining moments? These could be happy or tragic, once-in-a-lifetime or recurring events, and depending on where you live, you might experience them in dramatically different ways.

      If you live in France, have French friends, or have an interest in French culture, you need to know how major life events are handled there, and how to talk about them. You’ll need to know how to wish a happy birthday in French, a Merry Christmas or New Year, and how to offer condolences or wish for a swift recovery. Further, you’ll wish to know how to congratulate friends on their new degree, spouse, or offspring.

      In this article, we’ll go through the ten major French life events and their cultural ins and outs. We’ll also provide you with a list of the most useful French phrases for congratulations (and condolences) so that you can take part in these pivotal moments, and as a result grow much closer to the people involved.

      Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French

      Table of Contents

      1. Joyeux Anniversaire ! (Happy Birthday!)
      2. Bonne Fête ! (Happy Name Day!)
      3. Naissance (Birth)
      4. Remise de Diplôme (Graduation)
      5. Nouvel Emploi (New Job)
      6. Retraite (Retirement)
      7. Mariage (Wedding)
      8. Funérailles (Funerals)
      9. Convalescence (Recovery)
      10. Fêtes (Holidays)
      11. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

      1. Joyeux Anniversaire ! (Happy Birthday!)

      Happy Birthday

      Just like in many other European countries and North America, French birthdays usually involve a party with friends or family, a cake, some optional singing, blowing out candles, and receiving presents.

      • There are no fixed rules on who should throw your fête d’anniversaire (birthday party). It could be friends, family, or even yourself. Most birthdays in France are celebrated either at home or a restaurant. In the latter case, you’re not expected to pay for everyone, but your friends might want to pay for you. It’s your special day, after all!
      • Le gâteau d’anniversaire (The birthday cake) can be absolutely whatever: fruits, cream, chocolate, nuts, you name it. The white frosting cliché isn’t really a thing in France. Some like to cook the cake, while others prefer to buy it at the pâtisserie (pastry shop). We put les bougies (the candles) on it.
      • Les cadeaux (The presents) are equally not codified and really depend on the person. For a kid, we usually go for a toy or book. Adults are tricky, but if you’re close enough to buy them a present, you should know what they like, right?
      • La chanson (The song) is the easy part, with lyrics as simple as: Joyeux anniversaire, joyeux anniversaire, joyeux anniversaire Nicolas ! Joyeux anniversaire ! (Assuming the birthday boy is called Nicolas). Or you could go for this nightmarish song from humorist and singer Patrick Sebastien.
      • Les cartes d’anniversaire (Birthdays cards) used to be a thing, and it never hurts to send one, but the younger generations go through social networks.

      How to say Happy Birthday in French:

      Joyeux anniversaire !
      Bon anniversaire !
      Heureux anniversaire !
      “Happy birthday!”
      (Postcard greetings)
      Je te souhaite un joyeux anniversaire et plein de bonheur.
      “I wish you a happy birthday and plenty of happiness!”

      Older Woman Blowing Out Birthday Cake Candles

      Don’t spit on the cake!

      2. Bonne Fête ! (Happy Name Day!)

      A tradition mainly in Europe and Latin America, name days are originally based on the Christian calendar of Saints, but everyone can celebrate it in France, even though we don’t make a big deal out of it.

      Just locate your name on the calendar and you’ll know when your fête, or “name day,” is. You’re not featured there? Well, tough luck, but you won’t be missing much more than nice words and a pat on the shoulder. Presents and parties for a name day aren’t unheard of, but definitely not commonplace.

      So, how do we celebrate a name day? More often than not, we don’t. Should you wish to do it, a small present or a postcard are safe bets, but buying a drink might work just as well.

      Here’s how you can offer your congratulations in French to someone on their name day:

      Bonne fête ! “Happy name day!”
      Bonne fête, Nicolas ! “Happy name day, Nicolas!”
      C’est la Saint Nicolas aujourd’hui, bonne fête ! “It’s Nicolas’ day. Happy name day!”

      3. Naissance (Birth)

      Talking About Age

      We don’t do baby showers in France and have no pre-birth equivalent. This American tradition has been pushed through advertisement companies, but people are resisting, seeing it as consumerism or even something prone to bring bad luck. However, celebrations are held after birth with the regular shower of gifts.

      Religious rituals have become unusual in France, and although biblical names are still popular, parents don’t choose the name of their newborn based on the Saint’s name of the birthday. Christian families can choose to baptize their children before their first anniversary, which leads to a Fête de baptème, or “Baptism party.”

      Toutes mes félicitations !
      Sincères félicitations !
      “Congratulations!”
      (Postcard greetings)

      Bienvenue au petit Nicolas ! Meilleurs voeux de bonheur à tous les trois !

      Félicitations pour la naissance de votre fille ! Puisse sa vie être faite de rires, de chansons, d’allégresse et de découvertes !

      “Welcome to little Nicolas! Best wishes of happiness to all three of you!”

      “Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! May her life be filled with laughter, songs, joy, and discoveries!”

      Newborn Baby, Mother, and Doctor

      Congratulations, it’s a baby!

      4. Remise de Diplôme (Graduation)

      Graduations are usually not cause for wide-scale celebrations in France, but we have nothing against it! Graduated students can celebrate among themselves over a drink or a party, while schools or universities can also organize festive events on graduation day.

      Parents sometimes offer presents to their children to celebrate their success, but there are no conventions on what these gifts should be.

      Félicitations !
      Bien joué !
      Bon travail !
      “Congratulations!”
      “Well done!”
      “Nice job!”
      Bravo pour ta réussite !
      Bravo pour ton diplôme !
      Félicitations pour ton examen !
      “Congratulations on your success!”
      “Congratulations on your degree!”
      “Congratulations on your test!”
      (Postcard greeting)

      Bravo pour ton diplôme bien mérité après tout ce travail acharné.

      “Congratulations on a well-deserved degree after all of your hard work.”
        → Learn more about education and degrees with our free vocabulary list on the Graduation Season.

      5. Nouvel Emploi (New Job)

      Basic Questions

      Work isn’t as prominent in French mentality as it is in other countries. It’s generally accepted that you should work for a living but not live for your work, and as a result, the French are trying to strike the right balance between their professional and personal lives, without dedicating too much to their workplace.

      Similarly, new jobs and promotions are usually not a big thing. Your new job can typically be celebrated with your partner, while promotions are a good excuse for a drink among colleagues.

      [Casual] Bravo pour ton nouveau job !
      Bravo pour ton nouveau poste !
      “Congratulations on your new job!”
      “Congratulations on your new position!”
      [Formal] Félicitations pour ton nouvel emploi.
      Félicitations pour ta promotion.
      “Congratulations on your new position.”
      “Congratulations on your promotion.”
      (Postcard greeting)

      Toutes mes félicitations pour votre promotion ! Etant donné la qualité de votre travail, une telle reconnaissance est amplement méritée.

      “Congratulations on your promotion! Considering the quality of your work, such a recognition is well-deserved.”

      Coworkers Celebrating

      Embrace your new career with a cheesy smile.

        → Get ready to congratulate your friends on any new position with our free vocabulary list on Jobs.

      6. Retraite (Retirement)

      Most French retire between the ages of sixty and seventy, but l’âge de la retraite, or “the retirement age,” is steadily rising. This is a cause for concern and social unrest in the country.

      The pension system is contribution-based. A retiree’s pension is proportional to the amount of contributions he paid during his working life. Those contributions are directly taken from the salary, in the form of a tax.

      When their retraite, or “pension,” (yes, this is the same word as for “retirement” ) allows for it, it’s fairly common for the French to enjoy their retirement by traveling, either in the countryside or abroad.

      Here are some ways to go about congratulating someone in French for their retirement:

      [Professional] Bonne continuation ! “All the best!”
      [Casual] Profite bien de ta retraite ! “Enjoy your retirement!”
      (Postcard greeting)

      Je te souhaite une heureuse et sereine retraite.

      “I wish you a happy and peaceful retirement!”

      7. Mariage (Wedding)

      Marriage Proposal

      Weddings in France can be celebrated in many different ways, depending on your religion, social status, and personality. The celebrations range from an unpretentious informal event to a fastuous large-scale banquet of expensive delicacies, with awe-inspiring choregraphies and expertly crafted speeches.

      • A French marriage is typically planned up to years in advance, and don’t leave much to improvisation (or spontaneity, for that matter). Hiring a wedding coach is a new trend for the wealthiest couples.
      • The tradition of enterrement de vie de garçon (“bachelor party,” but literally “Burial of boy’s life”)—enjoying your single life to the fullest, with heavy drinking and strippers, before shackling yourself to your spouse for the rest of your days—appeared recently and is gaining in popularity.
      • Mariage religieux, or “religious weddings,” have been on the decline for a while, and most people marry at their town hall. The PACS (civil union, that used to be the only option for same-sex unions before) is quickly becoming the most popular option.
      • We don’t do wedding rehearsals or rehearsal dinners.

      Here are some of the most common French marriage congratulations:

      Tous mes voeux de bonheur. “Best wishes of happiness.”
      Toutes mes félicitations pour votre union
      Toutes mes félicitations pour votre mariage.
      “Congratulations on your union.”
      “Congratulations on your wedding.”
      (Postcard greeting)

      Sincères félicitations et meilleurs voeux de bonheur.

      “Sincere congratulations and best wishes of happiness.”

      Bouquet on the Ground

      “Wait, did you bring the bouquet?”

        → Practice your romantic fluency with our free vocabulary list on Quotes about Love.

      8. Funérailles (Funerals)

      Some peoples around the world see death as a cheerful event, cause for celebration and rejoicing. French funerals, however, are as grim and depressing as you can expect them to be if you grew up in a western country.

      • Enterrement, or “burial,” is the most common way to go, but crémation, or “cremation,” is also an option.
      • The tradition of veillée funèbre, or a “wake,” is on the decline but still going strong in villages. The modern version is often held in a dedicated rented place (and not in the house of the deceased, like it used to be), and usually not through the night.

      Here’s some French condolences messages and French phrases for condolences:

      Repose en paix.
      Paix à son âme.
      “Rest in peace.”
      “May he/she rest in peace.”
      Toutes mes condoléances. “My condolences.”
      (Postcard condolence)

      Nous partageons votre douleur et sommes de tout coeur avec vous.

      “We share your pain and our hearts go out to you.”

      9. Convalescence (Recovery)

      Serious illnesses or grave injuries are tragic yet important events for anyone. In France, it’s fairly common for friends and family to visit someone at the hospital, to keep them company or bring them gifts in the hope of helping with their recovery by lifting their spirit.

      At the workplace, when someone is away on a long sick leave, their coworkers can write a group card with greetings and wishes.

      Bon rétablissement ! “Get well soon!”
      [Casual] Prends soin de toi ! “Take care!”
      [Formal] Je te souhaite un prompt rétablissement. “I wish you a swift recovery.”

      Kids Giving Their Sick Mother a Gift

      “Look mom, we found you a new kidney on Craigslist!”

      10. Fêtes (Holidays)

      Classic French holidays include:

      • Noël (Christmas).
        Most French celebrate it without any religious connotation, but this is still arguably the biggest holiday of the year. Our traditions involve un arbre de Noël (Christmas tree), une crêche (a small nativity scene) in Christian families, une bûche de Noël (log-shaped Christmas cake), and lots of cadeaux de Noël (Christmas gifts), especially for kids.
      • Nouvel an (New Year).
        This one comes a little too close after Christmas’ hangover, but it’s duly celebrated by most French anyway. It’s not as traditional, though, and may take any form, from a family dinner to a restaurant with friends, a romantic walk on the Seine, or a gathering of fireworks enthusiasts.
      • Pâques (Easter).
        Celebrating Easter in France involves bells, des oeufs de Pâques (Easter eggs), and most of all, LOTS of chocolate. It’s common to hide chocolate eggs around the house and/or garden and let the children go on a treasure hunt. Adults gift each other with fancy Belgian chocolate treats.

      We have many more holidays! You can find them all on our French Calendar, on FrenchPod101.

      A few more celebrations worth mentioning:

      • Halloween started growing in popularity roughly a decade ago, and is now widely celebrated throughout the country.

        Unsurprisingly, our most conservative fellow citizens see it as overly commercial and a threat to our traditions, but it doesn’t prevent the younger generation from throwing Halloween parties and wearing their ghoulish costumes in the street.

        The French Halloween is mainly for adults celebrating at home or in local bars, while children rarely go door-to-door for trick-or-treating.

      • Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in France, and most French don’t even know what it’s about. However, given our love for never-ending dinner and delicious food, I’m sure there’s hope for this tradition to eventually land on our shores.
      Joyeux Noël ! “Merry Christmas!”
      Bonne année ! “Happy New Year!”
      Joyeuses Pâques ! “Happy Easter!”
      Poisson d’avril “April’s Fool”
      Saint Valentin “Valentine’s Day”

      A Christmas Light Display

      Joyeux Noël ! (“Merry Christmas!” )

        → Don’t let the Christmas season take you off-guard; learn more festive vocabulary with our free list on Christmas!

      11. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

      In this guide, you’ve learned everything about the main life events as experienced in France, from birth to birthdays, weddings, and funerals. You’ve also learned the most important French phrases of congratulations, condolences, and well-wishing.

      Did I forget any important event that you’ve been through or heard about? Do you feel ready to take part in these defining moments of the lives of your French friends with all the right words and phrases?

      FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings, and free resources to boost your studies and keep your French learning fresh and entertaining!

      Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching and practice life event phrases with your private teacher. You’ll gain access to assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples, and an experienced tutor to review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

      Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French

      About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

      Secret Revealed: The Best Way to Learn a Language on Your Own

      Learning A Language on Your Own

      Can You Really Learn French Alone?

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      3 Reasons to Learn a Language Alone

      Learning Alone

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      How to Learn a Language on Your Own with FrenchPod101

      Learning with FrenchPod101

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      Conclusion

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      FrenchPod101 is the world’s most advanced online language learning system and a great resource to help you teach yourself a new language. With the world’s largest collection of HD audio and video lessons, more than 20 advanced learning tools, and customized “Learning Paths”, FrenchPod101 makes learning a new language easier, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom instruction.

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      Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From FrenchPod101.com!

      Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at FrenchPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn French together!

      And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study French with FrenchPod101.com!

      Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

      From Celine, Sam, Angele and the whole FrenchPod101.com Team!