In our last lesson, we discussed the differences in meaning between the two ways of saying "day" in French, le jour and la journée. The masculine term jour refers to a specific moment in time, or a unit of time with an emphasis on quantity, while its feminine counterpart journée emphasizes quality, content, and duration. We also mentioned that there were other words pairs, namely matin/matinée (morning), soir/soirée (evening), and an/année (year), that work similarly.
In this lesson, we will focus on the word pairs soir/soirée and matin/matinée.
Like jour (day), matin (morning) and soir (evening/night) indicate a point in time. You can use them to specify the time of day, as in six heures du matin (six o’clock in the morning).
To clarify whether it’s morning or afternoon on the twelve-hour clock, simply add du matin (in the morning) and du soir (in the evening) to the time:
New York, six heures du matin
New York, six o'clock in the morning
Caption 2, Boulbar New York, 6 heures du matinPlay Caption
(Du matin is equivalent to “a.m.” and du soir is equivalent to “p.m.”).
You can also combine matin/soir with other time expressions, as in le lendemain matin/le lendemain soir (the next morning/evening):
Le lendemain matin, Jean-Paul est rongé par la culpabilité.
The next morning, Jean-Paul is consumed with guilt.Play Caption
Similarly, you can pair matin/soir with hier (yesterday). In the example below, we have hier soir (last night):
T'étais où hier soir?
Where were you last night?Play Caption
The nouns le soir and le matin aren't necessarily accompanied by an adverb of time. They can be used on their own to indicate a time of day. In the example below, the restaurant owner explains how many people typically come for lunch or dinner:
Cinquante personnes le midi, cinquante personnes le soir
Fifty people at noon, fifty people in the evening
Captions 31-32, Christian Le Squer Je ne fais que goûter!Play Caption
In the example below, Elisa and Mashal discuss what they usually have for breakfast, and Elisa is surprised to hear that Mashal likes to eat a slice of chicken le matin (in the morning).
Le matin? -Ouais. Une tranche de poulet le matin?
In the morning? -Yeah. A slice of chicken in the morning?
Captions 5-6, Elisa et Mashal Petit-déjeunerPlay Caption
Unlike in English, you don't need a preposition in French to say "in the evening/in the morning." You can simply say le soir/le matin (in the evening/morning).
When the time is less specific or crucial, and the emphasis is on what happened during that time, it’s better to use the feminine version dans la matinée/soirée (in the morning/evening). This time, the preposition dans (in) is included.
Let’s look at what Alexandre and Sophie were doing dans la soirée (in the evening) in the example below. What matters most is what happened during the evening—Alexandre calling Sophie:
Dans la soirée, Alexandre appelle Sophie.
In the evening, Alexandre calls Sophie.Play Caption
In the next example, Alexandre calls Sophie at a different time: en fin de matinée (in the late morning). Since timing is approximate, we use matinée:
Alex, l'agent de Sophie, m'a appelée en fin de matinée.
Alex, Sophie's agent, called me in the late morning.Play Caption
You can substitute matinée (morning) with soirée (evening) here: en fin de soirée (in the late evening).
When estimating how long it might take to perform a task, use the suffix -ée to indicate duration. In the example below, the person needs la matinée (the whole morning or the better part of the morning) to do her shopping:
Je vais faire des courses. J'en ai pour la matinée.
I'm going to do some shopping. I'll be out for the morning.Play Caption
When describing how much you can accomplish in the span of a morning, you say dans une matinée (in a morning). Watch the video below to find out how many madeleines this amazing baker makes dans une matinée (in a morning):
Mais vous, tout seul, dans une matinée, vous faites combien de madeleines?
But you by yourself, how many madeleines do you make in a morning?Play Caption
Unlike the baker in the example above, the lady in the video below decides to prendre la matinée (take the morning off):
Elle a pris sa matinée aujourd'hui.
She took her morning off today.Play Caption
Taking the morning off is a great opportunity to faire la grasse matinée (to sleep in; literally, "to do the fat morning"). That is precisely what the animal in this funny zoo recommends doing while on holiday:
Pas question. Vacances égalent grasse matinée.
Out of the question. Vacations equal sleeping in.
Caption 33, Les zooriginaux Repos corsé - Part 3Play Caption
And if you’re in the mood, you can watch a matinée performance. Une matinée can stretch into an early afternoon, the start of the day for very late risers.
For evening people, how you spend la soirée (the evening) is more important. In the video below, Cinderella was having such a good night out that la soirée (the evening) flew by:
Avec la musique et la danse, la soirée passa comme dans un rêve.
With the music and the dancing, the evening passed like in a dream.
Captions 21-22, Contes de fées Cendrillon - Part 2Play Caption
Elisa and Mashal also remember a memorable evening, cette soirée (that evening), as they look at old photos:
C'est vrai. Je me rappelle de cette soirée.
That's true. I remember that evening.
Caption 53, Elisa et Mashal PhotosPlay Caption
If it had been a formal event, une soirée (a soirée), Elisa and Mashal might have worn une robe de soirée (an evening gown).
On the other hand, une robe de soirée (an evening gown) would not be appropriate for a job interview, as Mashal jokingly points out:
On va pas se ramener, euh... -Avec une robe de soirée, quoi.
We're not going to show up, uh... -In an evening gown, right?
Caption 67, Elisa et Mashal CVPlay Caption
In any case, it’s always good form to wish someone bonne soirée (have a good evening) when parting ways, and save bonsoir (good evening) for the beginning of the evening, as it’s a greeting.
Now that we’ve explored soir/soirée (evening) and matin/matinée (morning), we’re ready to tackle an/année (year) in a future and final lesson.
There are two new videos dealing with food on Yabla this week. The first is the latest episode of Le Jour où tout a basculé, which focuses on a struggling frozen-food worker and her difficult son. The second is an interview with Christian Le Squer, the head chef at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Cinq. Both videos contain a good number of interesting food-related words, which we'll go over in this lesson.
1. Des pâtes
Y a quoi pour le dîner? -Des pâtes.
What's for dinner? -Pasta.Play Caption
"Pasta" is a singular noun, but when you say you're having pasta for dinner, you don't mean you're just having one piece of pasta, right? That's why you say des pâtes (plural) in French when talking about a pasta meal. Une pâte (singular) refers to one piece of pasta, and it's also the word for "paste," "pastry," and "dough." Don't confuse it with le pâté, which means—you guessed it—"pâté."
Pourtant, ça empêche pas mes potes de bouffer de la viande.
Even so, that doesn't stop my buddies from eating meat.Play Caption
This is a very common slang word meaning "to eat." You can use it instead of the standard verb manger when speaking informally. And instead of la nourriture (food), you can say la bouffe.
3. Des plats surgelés
Sarah, quarante-cinq ans, est secrétaire dans une société de fabrication de plats surgelés.
Sarah, forty-five years old, is a secretary at a frozen-food manufacturing company.Play Caption
Des plats surgelés are frozen foods, but the term literally means "frozen dishes." Surgelé(e) is mostly used in food contexts and is often interchangeable with the related adjective congelé(e). The more general word for "frozen" is simply gelé(e).
4. Le couvert
Une quarantaine de couverts...
About forty place settings...
Caption 9, Christian Le Squer - Je ne fais que goûter!Play Caption
Couvert is the past participle of the verb couvrir (to cover), but when used as a noun (le couvert) it means "place setting" or "cutlery." This makes sense if you think about it, since when you set a table, you cover it with plates, glasses, and silverware. In fact, the phrase mettre le couvert means "to set the table," or literally, "to put down the place setting."
Faut la faire torréfier.
It's got to be roasted.
Caption 23, Christian Le Squer - Je ne fais que goûter!Play Caption
Christian Le Squer is referring to a hazelnut (une noisette) that he thinks needs to be roasted. Torréfier is mainly used when talking about roasting nuts or coffee beans. When you're roasting meat or vegetables, you use the verb rôtir or faire rôtir.
6. Une entrée
...viande, poisson, entrée, et sucrée.
...meat, fish, starters, and sweets.
Caption 34, Christian Le Squer - Je ne fais que goûter!Play Caption
In American English, "entrée" is another word for "main course." But une entrée actually means an "appetizer" or "starter" in French. It also means "an entrance." To remember this difference in meaning, just think of an appetizer as the "entrance" to a meal. If you'd like to learn the history of the word "entrée" in English, check out this interesting blog post.
And for more food-related words, see this Yabla lesson.