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All about Jouer

Learn about the French verb jouer


Jouer is a very common and useful regular -ER French verb. It means "to play," both transitively and intransitively, and needs different prepositions depending on what exactly is being played.


Jouer with no preposition means to play, have fun, or fool around:
    Arrête de jouer !
    Stop playing/fooling around!

    Je fais ça pour jouer
    I do that for fun
In reference to music, theater, television, and movies, jouer means to play or perform:
    Quel orchestre va jouer ce soir ?
    Which orchestra is playing tonight?

    Tu joues très bien
    You act very well / You're a very good actor
Jouer can also mean to gamble, bet, wager, speculate (in the stock market), and formally, to deceive or dupe.

Jouer à

Jouer à means to play a game or sport, or to play with something:
    Il joue aux échecs
    He's playing chess

    Nous allons jouer au golf
    We're going to play golf

    Elle ne joue pas à la poupée
    She doesn't play with dolls

Jouer de

Jouer de means to play a musical instrument:
    J'aimerais jouer du piano
    I'd like to play the piano

    Depuis quand joue-t-elle de la flûte ?
    How long has she played the flute?

    Il ne sait pas jouer de la guitare
    He doesn't know how to play the guitar

Jouer avec

Jouer avec means to play or toy with:
    Il joue toujours avec ses cheveux
    He's always playing/fiddling with his hair

    Il ne faut jamais jouer avec les sentiments
    You should never play with someone's feelings

Jouer sur

Jouer sur means to play on, use, or exploit:
    J'aime jouer sur les mots
    I like to play with words / make plays on words

    Il faut jouer sur l'effet de surprise
    We should use the element of surprise

Expressions with Jouer
    jouer avec le feu - to play with fire (literally and figuratively)

    jouer franc jeu - to play fair

    jouer le jeu - to play the game (literally and figuratively)

    jouer un mauvais/vilain tour à qqun - to play a dirty trick on someone

    se la jouer - (informal) to show off


Present tense

   je joue
   tu joues
   il joue
   nous jouons
   vous jouez
   ils jouent

All tenses
Related Video
French Dialogues: Travel, Hotels, and Accommodations
French Dialogues: Shopping
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