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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is-- For units of time, like jour and an, when are they masculine and when are they feminine?
You’ve probably seen both masculine and feminine forms of “day,” jour and journée, and “year,” an and année; so how do you know which gender to use?
Well, the general rule is that the masculine forms are for counting and the feminine forms are for emphasizing the duration of an action.
Let’s go through some examples so you can learn how to use the masculine and feminine forms for units of time correctly.
Let’s start with “years.” J’ai passé 10 ans aux Etats-Unis. “I’ve spent 10 years in the US.” In this sentence, we are simply counting the number of years, so we use the masculine ans for “years.”
Let’s do another example. If we say, J'ai passé 10 merveilleuses années aux Etats-Unis. meaning “I have spent 10 wonderful years in the US,” we’re using the adjective “wonderful” and putting emphasis on the duration of time spent. Therefore, we use années “years” in the feminine form.
Let’s practice some more with “days.” J’ai 2 jours de repos. “I have two days off.” Again, here, we’re simply counting the number of days off. So, we use jours, the masculine form of “days.” If we say, J’ai 2 journées de repos, also meaning “I have 2 days off,” then we’re emphasizing the time off, implying that we have time to do a lot of things.
There are some cases when it doesn’t matter which gender you use. That’s when you’re talking about “last year” or “next year.” Both l’an dernier and l’année dernière work for “last year,” and the same with “next year,” using prochain for masculine or prochaine for feminine.
I hope that clears things up. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments!
A bientôt, see you soon!