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Morning and Evening: Matin/soir vs. matinée/soirée

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. 

 

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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 matin

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(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.

Caption 1, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mon histoire d'amour est impossible - Part 6

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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?

Caption 42, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai volé pour nourrir mon fils - Part 7

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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!

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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-déjeuner

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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.

Caption 7, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai piégé mon fan - Part 3

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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.

Caption 15, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai piégé mon fan - Part 6

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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.

Caption 2, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mon histoire d'amour est impossible - Part 6

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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?

Caption 53, Lionel L'usine de madeleines de Liverdun - Part 2

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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.

Caption 41, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai volé pour nourrir mon fils - Part 5

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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 3

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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 2

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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 Photos

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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 CV

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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.

 
Vocabulary

French Object Pronouns - Part 2 - Indirect Object Pronouns

French Objects Pronouns - Part 1

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As we mentioned in our last lesson, a direct object is a noun that receives the action of a verb (such as "the ball" in "I throw the ball"). On the other hand, an indirect object indicates to whom or for whom the action is done (such as "my friend" in "I throw the ball to my friend"). Just as direct object pronouns replace direct objects (e.g. "I throw it to my friend"), indirect object pronouns replace indirect objects ("I throw the ball to him/her"). There are six indirect object pronouns in French: 


me (to me)              nous (to us)
te (to you)               vous (to you)
lui (to him/her)        leur (to them)


In French, an indirect object pronoun usually replaces "à (to) + a person." Unlike direct object pronouns, which can refer to either people or things, indirect object pronouns only refer to people.
 

Je jette le ballon à mon amie. / Je lui jette le ballon.
I throw the ball to my friend. / I throw her the ball [or "I throw the ball to her"].


The following example contains a mixture of direct and indirect pronouns. How did the speaker know when to use which? 
 

Il m'a dit: "Je le garde". Ben, je lui ai dit: "Écoutez, expliquez aux quatre cents personnes..."

He told me, "I'm keeping it." Well, I told him, "Listen, explain to the four hundred people..."

Caption 24, Actu Vingtième - Vendanges parisiennes

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It all depends on whether the verb in question would normally be followed by the preposition à. Garder isn't followed by à: you would say garder quelque chose (to keep something), but never garder à quelque chose. If you watch the video, you'll know from context that the speaker is referring to le fromage (cheese). So instead of saying je garde le fromage, he uses the direct object pronoun le (je le garde). On the other hand, you would say dire à quelqu'un (to tell someone), but never dire quelqu'un. Because of that à, the speaker knows to use the indirect objects me and lui


Here are some other examples of indirect object pronouns in action:

 

Si la nuit me parle De souvenirs passés

If the night speaks to me About past memories

Captions 3-4, Boulbar - New York, 6 heures du matin

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Mais je te donne plus que des mots

But I give you more than words

Caption 12, Corneille - Comme un fils

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Et là, je leur ai envoyé une petite nouvelle...

And here, I sent them a little short story...

Caption 86, Claudine Thibout Pivert - 2ème Salon du livre et des vieux papiers Mazamet

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We know these are indirect object pronouns because they all replace "à + person" in the verbal expressions parler à quelqu'un (to speak to someone), donner à quelqu'un (to give to someone), and envoyer à quelqu'un (to send to someone).

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As you learned in our last lesson, when a direct object pronoun is followed by a verb in the past tense (passé composé), the past participle needs to agree in number and gender with the direct object pronoun. On the other hand, you don't have to worry about agreement in the passé composé with indirect object pronouns. That's why you have je leur ai envoyé in the example above and not je leur ai envoyés or je leur ai envoyées

 

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Grammar

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