How To tell Year In French Language – An Vs Année

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  • March 12, 2022
  • French Language

How To tell Year In French Language – An Vs Année –

What’s the difference between an or année?

French Language has two words for saying year: an and année. One Can no doubtedly get confused between these two nouns as they have identical meaning. Knowing when to use “an” vs “année” is often tricky for each new learner. Here I’ll attempt to facilitate you to find out the difference between “an” and “année”.

When can we say “année” for ‘year’ in French –

“Année” is employed to explain the entire year span, and is usually used with ordinal numbers (first, second,…) in expressions introducing indefinite quantities (several years, thousands of years…), and other time expressions such as:

1. l’année prochaine : next year
2. l’année dernière : last year
3. “l’année dernière / prochaine” (last year/ next year), “toute l’année” (all year long)…
4. chaque année : anually
5. toute l’année: the entire year
6. Plusieurs années: several years…
7. Cette année: this year
8. Quelle année: which year?
9. Combien d’années: how many years?
10. Des centaines d’années: hundreds of years

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When will we say “an” for ‘year’ in French –

“An” is mostly used with a number: when saying your age, or counting years with numbers (one, two, three..). It’s also use with frequency: saying how many times per year/in a year you are doing something.
1. J’ai 38 ans.
I’m 38 years old.
2. Je suis allée en Canada il y a deux ans.
I went to Canada 2 years ago/ before 2 years.
3. Je vais en Paris deux fois par an.
I go to Paris twice/two times a year.

How To Say “Happy New Year” In French?
There are number of ways to wish someone “Happy New Year” in French. The foremost common one can be: Je te/vous souhaite une joyeuse année.
New Year’s day is known as “le jour du nouvel an”.
The fundamental difference between the two words has to do with how you “observe” the year in an exceedingly particular case. As a rough/small guide:
. The word année is more subjective: it is accustomed to describe a selected year, or concentrate on the elapsed time and events that occur in a particular year or years.
The word an tends to look at the year as a single, objective “point” in time for the aim of counting, stating a date etc;
This implies that we will identify some common conditions that mean that an or année is used in a given case. These common conditions are given within the following table.


Case an or année? Example
Simply counting with “ordinary” numbers and no other adjectives, description etc an J’ai 15 ans

Je l’ai lu il y a trois ans

Je travaille ici depuis deux ans et demi

Simply stating a year as a “date” when something happened or will happen an Je l’ai fait l’an dernier

L’an prochain je devrai trouver un nouvel emploi

En l’an 2000

Counting with tous les… (meaning “every … years”) an tous les ans = every single year

tous les deux ans = every two years, every other year,

Years used with an adjective, determiner (other than le/un), or other phrase/relative clause that is actually a description of the year(s) in question année Je le fais depuis trois longues années

une bonne année

mon année

cette année

L’année Van Gogh

un tube des années 80 = “an 80s hit”…

A calendar date where you’re focussing on the “experience or events” of a year or years année L’année dernière a été incroyable


Not every single case is clear-cut. Provided that an incorporates a “counting” function, while année tends to “describe” or “focus on an experience”, there are cases where either of them is potentially possible: whether you say j’y ai consacrée dans ans de ma vie (“I dedicated two years of my life to it”) or …deux années de ma vie depends on whether you want to put more emphasis on the “counting the length of time” or on the “experience” of these two years.

Now, let’s take a look at expressions using an / année. Often with expressions, one thinks what to use “an” or “année” as it is not always logical there… so it comes down to memorizing/learning them.

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18 French Expressions Using An And Année –

Let’s start with the French expressions using “année”
French Expressions with “année” –

1. une année calendaire: calendar year
2. une année bissextile: leap year/ intercalary year
3. une année-lumière: light year
4. une année scolaire: school year
5. les années soixante: soixante-dix: the sixties, seventies
6. les années de famine, sècheresse, guerre, paix… years of famine, drought, war, peace…
7. Bonne année et bonne santé ! Happy New Year (and good health)
8. Bonne Année ! Happy New Year!
French Expressions with “an”
1. tous les ans: every year/ per annum
2. deux, trois, quatre fois par an: twice, three times, four times a year
3. avoir 10, 20, 30 ans: to be 10, 20, 30 (years old)
4. en l’an X de notre ère: (in the year) X AD
5. en l’an X avant Jésus-Christ: (in the year) X BC
6. en l’an de grâce X : in the year X of Our Lord
7. le Nouvel An: New Year’s Day, the New Year
8. le jour de l’An: New Year’s Day
9. le Premier de l’an: New Year’s Day, the first of the year
10. s’en moquer comme de l’an quarante: to not care less about, to not give a darn about.


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Maitreyi Dhamande

SevenMentor Pvt Ltd

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