1. Education

Dates in French - La Date

Learn how to talk about dates in French

By

Knowing how to talk about the date is essential for making reservations and appointments. Dates are a little bit different in French and English, but they're not difficult once you learn the rules and formulas.
 

Asking the date in French

The basic question, "What's the date?" is very simple:

   Quelle est la date ? (click to hear it pronounced)

You can also ask for a more specific date:

   Quelle est la date aujourd'hui ?
   What's today's date?

   Quelle est la date de (la fête, ton anniversaire...) ?
   What date is (the party, your birthday...)?

Note that quelle is the only way to translate "what" here; you cannot say things like "qu'est-ce que la date" or "qu'est-ce qui est la date." Learn about how to say "what" in French.
 

Saying the date in French

To say what the date is, the most important thing to remember is that the number must precede the month. Use this construction:

C'est + le (definite article) + cardinal number + month

   C'est le 30 octobre.
   C'est le 8 avril.
   C'est le 2 janvier.


The first day of the month is a little different - you have to use the ordinal number: premier (first) or 1er (1st):

   C'est le premier avril, C'est le 1er avril.
   C'est le premier juillet, C'est le 1er juillet.

Informally, for all of the above, you can replace C'est with On est or Nous sommes:

   On est le 30 octobre.
   Nous sommes le premier juillet.


If you want to include the year, just tack it on to the end:

   C'est le 8 avril 2013.
   On est le 1er juillet 2014.
   Nous sommes le 18 octobre 2012.


See "what day is it?" for dates including the day of the week.

Idiomatic expression: Tous les 36 du mois - Once in a blue moon
 

Writing the short form of dates

When writing the short form of the date in French, it is more important than ever to remember that the day goes first, followed by the month. This is easy for British English speakers, since they use the same format as the French, but can be very confusing for American English speakers!

    le 15 décembre 2012 15/12/12                                                                           
  December 15, 2012 12/15/12
     
  le 29 mars 2011 29/3/11
  March 29, 2011 3/29/11
     
  le 1er avril 2011 1/4/11
  April 1, 2011 4/1/11
     
  le 4 janvier 2011 4/1/11
  January 4, 2011 1/4/11
 
 
Related lesson: Years in French
 
 
Important Dates in French
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. French Language
  4. French Grammar
  5. Beginning French Grammar
  6. Dates in French - La Date

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.