Days of the Week in French

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Learn the days of the week in French, starting with lundi (Monday) and ending with dimanche (Sunday). Learn the historical roots of the French words to help you remember them and then practice with a short quiz at the end.

Learning the Days of the Week in French

Whatever your reason for wanting to learn French, you have to learn les jours de la semaine (pronounced: leh jour du la se-man), or the days of the week. Whether it's to read the great works of French literature or simply to be able to pass a quiz next week, the days of the week will be invaluable to you.

In this lesson, we're going to go over the days of the week in French as well as spend some time using them in the same context that you likely learned the days of the week in English--as weekdays and the weekend.

Days of the Week in English and French

First, let's take a look at the days of the week:

English French
Monday lundi (pronounced: lun-dee)
Tuesday mardi (pronounced like: Mardi Gras)
Wednesday mercredi (pronounced: mer-cra-dee)
Thursday jeudi (pronounced: ju-dee)
Friday vendredi (pronounced: von-dra-dee)
Saturday samedi (pronounced: sa-mey-dee)
Sunday dimanche (pronounced: dee-man-sh)

Notice that they are not automatically capitalized like they are in English. That is a very important rule, so make sure you keep it in mind!

Working on the Weekdays

Admittedly, that's a lot to take in at once, so let's slow down and get it right. Let's start with lundi, or Monday. Believe it or not, these two words are more related than it may first appear. That 'lun' in lundi is thought by some linguists to refer to 'luna,' or the Latin word for moon. It's the same place we get our word 'lunar.' Since Monday also comes from 'moon-day,' the two words are related.

So what about mardi? Well, many of our days of the week got their names from different gods, but they were based off the Latin versions of those gods' names. This one actually gets its name from the Norse god of war, Tyr, and the Roman god of war, Mars. Also, if you've ever heard about a certain party thrown in New Orleans called Mardi Gras, you probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that Mardi Gras actually means 'Fat Tuesday,' a traditional day of parties before the beginning of Lent.

Next we have mercredi. Again, it may not look like it, but there is a connection here too! Wednesday comes from 'Odin's Day,' and Odin was a messenger god in addition to being king of the Norse gods. The Roman messenger god was Mercury, which is where mercredi came from.

Thursday, or our 'Thor's Day,' has a similar connection with the French jeudi. Jeudi is a devolution of 'Jove,' another name for the Roman god of Thunder, Jupiter. English speakers applied the same idea with the Norse god of Thunder, Thor.

Finally, we come to vendredi, or Friday. Both are named for goddesses of beauty, though, like you might guess, the French name comes from the Roman Venus, while the English name comes from the Norse Freya or Frigg--depending on who you ask.

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