Faire de, jouer à : talking about sports, hobbies and leisure activities

Jouer or faire? In French, like English, we can both play and do sports/games/hobbies, but you need to know which verb sounds correct for each activity. Here are the rules to help you get it right!

FAIRE DU SPORT

Je fais du sport tous les jours.
I do sport every day.

Il fait du tennis.
He plays tennis.

Sam fait de l'aïkido.
Sam does aïkido.

Tu fais de la natation.
You swim (regularly / in a club).

You can use faire de followed by la or l' in front of a vowel or mute h, but remember that le and les will contract with de and become du and des.
 
For some activities, such as skiing or horse riding, you cannot use jouer, just like you wouldn't say I play ski or I play horse riding in English.
 
 
ATTENTION:
When using "faire de la danse" or "faire de la natation" (FOR EXAMPLE) rather than simply "danser" or "nager", you refer more to an organised, repeated activity - I take dance lessons / I go swimming [as a regular activity, e.g. attending class or lessons] - than just a 'one-off' activity you're in the middle of doing such as I'm dancing / I'm swimming.

Je fais du ski quand je suis dans les Alpes.
I ski when I'm in the Alps.

Je skie avec ma famille.
I'm skiing with my family.


-> Note that in that context, the difference is not very noticeable.

Remember, English has two present tenses: I dance (simple), and I am dancing (continuous) which lets us make the distinction between something you do regularly versus something you're in the middle of doing. French has no present continuous tense, so we use faire de to distinguish the regular activity that you do, from the one-off activity you are doing.  


JOUER + À +  [SPORT]

Ils jouent au basket.

They play basketball.

Je joue aux échecs.
I play chess.

Il joue au tennis.

He plays tennis.

You can use jouer à followed by la or l' in front of a vowel or mute h, but remember that le and les will contract with à and become au and aux.

Ils jouent au basket.

They play basketball.

ATTENTION:
With music instruments, you will use de instead of à  (See Jouer de = to play an instrument).
 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Je fais du sport tous les jours.
I do sport every day.


Il joue au tennis.

He plays tennis.


Elle fait de l'équitation.
She goes horse riding (regularly / in a club).


Il fait du tennis.
He plays tennis.


Je skie avec ma famille.
I'm skiing with my family.


Sam fait de l'aïkido.
Sam does aïkido.


Tu fais de la natation.
You swim (regularly / in a club).


Je fais du ski quand je suis dans les Alpes.
I ski when I'm in the Alps.


Ils jouent au basket.

They play basketball.


Je joue aux échecs.
I play chess.



Ils font du basket.
They play basketball.


Q&A Forum 23 questions, 41 answers

How to say "I'm taking lessons" for activities that only use faire

If faire du cheval means "I'm horseback riding", who would one say "I am taking horseback riding lessons"?

Asked 1 month ago
TomC1Correct answer

Hi Alvin

I would suggest:

Je prends des cours d'équitation.

Hope this helps,

Tom

How to say "I'm taking lessons" for activities that only use faire

If faire du cheval means "I'm horseback riding", who would one say "I am taking horseback riding lessons"?

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i still did not understand

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

What exactly did you not understand Wassan?

i still did not understand

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would" faites-vous de la guitare?" be correct?

Asked 3 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Xela,

You would say 'Jouez-vous de la guitare? as explained in the following Kwiziq lesson-

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/jouer-de-to-play-an-instrument

Hope this helps!

It is just that my French teacher taught us to use "faire" when we want to say we play a musical instrument. So, I was just wondering if we can use it that way. Thank you for your reply.

CécileKwiziq language super star

Hi Xela,

You use 'faire' in French when you are concentrating on the activity rather than the playing of the instrument.

For instance if you say -

'Je ne fais plus de piano' , you are saying that you are no longer learning or playing the piano you might have decided to 'faire de la danse' or 'faire de la guitare' ...

I think in English you use play or learn to play , hence the problem...

Hope this helps!

would" faites-vous de la guitare?" be correct?

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When I say Le mardi et le jeudi , [je nage] or [ je faire de la natation] à cinq heur. Which one would be correct?

It is a regular activity bit Je faire de la natation seems wrong in this context.

Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Fran,

You would use ‘faire de la natation’ as it represents the activity ‘to go swimming’ rather than the physicality of doing swimming movements.

So you might say -

‘Je me suis fait mal en nageant’ = ‘I hurt myself while swimming’

But

‘Faire de la natation est bon pour la santé‘ ‘Swimming is good for your health‘

Tricky and very subtle I know but hope this helps!

 

When I say Le mardi et le jeudi , [je nage] or [ je faire de la natation] à cinq heur. Which one would be correct?

It is a regular activity bit Je faire de la natation seems wrong in this context.

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"Elle fait de la danse." means: She is making up a dance, She takes dance lessons, She's dancing

Bonjour, I put that "she's dancing" and can't work out why it was marked wrong, the answer is "she takes dance lessons" please could you explain?

kind regards

Gloria

Asked 6 months ago
GruffKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Gloria - this is explained in the lesson, but here's the section in case you missed it:

"Remember, English has two present tenses: I dance (simple), and I am dancing (continuous) which lets us make the distinction between something you do regularly versus something you're in the middle of doing. French has no present continuous tense, so we use faire de to distinguish the regular activity that you do, from the one-off activity you are doing. "

"Elle fait de la danse." means: She is making up a dance, She takes dance lessons, She's dancing

Bonjour, I put that "she's dancing" and can't work out why it was marked wrong, the answer is "she takes dance lessons" please could you explain?

kind regards

Gloria

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How to describe one-off dancing / swimming?

The lesson says:

When using "faire de la danse" or "faire de la natation" (FOR EXAMPLE) rather than simply "danser" or "nager", you refer more to an organised, repeated activity - I take dance lessons / I go swimming [as a regular activity, e.g. attending class or lessons] - than just a 'one-off' activity you're in the middle of doing such as I'm dancing / I'm swimming.

How would one then say: "I am dancing / I dance" without implying one is taking dance lessons? Same for swimming.

Thanks.

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Sagar, 

You would just use the present tense in French to indicate the English present progressive- I am doing ....

Je danse, je nage etc...

If you want for instance that your car is making a funny noise you will say:

Ma voiture fait un drôle de bruit....Hope this helps!

Thank you!

How to describe one-off dancing / swimming?

The lesson says:

When using "faire de la danse" or "faire de la natation" (FOR EXAMPLE) rather than simply "danser" or "nager", you refer more to an organised, repeated activity - I take dance lessons / I go swimming [as a regular activity, e.g. attending class or lessons] - than just a 'one-off' activity you're in the middle of doing such as I'm dancing / I'm swimming.

How would one then say: "I am dancing / I dance" without implying one is taking dance lessons? Same for swimming.

Thanks.

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How do I use faire or jouer in the future or past tense?

Asked 6 months ago

Simply put the verb faire in the desired tense:

Je fais du jogging.

Je ferai du jogging.

J'ai fait du jogging.

And so on.

How do I use faire or jouer in the future or past tense?

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The lesson doesn't make it clear that most sports are either faire de OR jouer à

The lesson implies that the two are interchangeable.   Ironically, while the only correct response in the quiz for "golf" is jouer à, the link to a lesson that Laura wrote states that both faire de and jouir à can be used.  https://www.thoughtco.com/french-vocabulary-learn-to-talk-sports-4079654  Suggest that these distinctions be made clearer in the lesson.  Thanks.

Asked 7 months ago

The lesson doesn't make it clear that most sports are either faire de OR jouer à

The lesson implies that the two are interchangeable.   Ironically, while the only correct response in the quiz for "golf" is jouer à, the link to a lesson that Laura wrote states that both faire de and jouir à can be used.  https://www.thoughtco.com/french-vocabulary-learn-to-talk-sports-4079654  Suggest that these distinctions be made clearer in the lesson.  Thanks.

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french lessons

Je fais des leçons du français.

I take french lessons ?

Asked 8 months ago
No, that doesn't work in French. You could say, Je prends un cours de français.

french lessons

Je fais des leçons du français.

I take french lessons ?

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Why do we use partitive articles for 'faire' but definite articles for 'jouer à'?

Il fait du tennis (fait + de le)

Il joue au tennis (joue à + le)

I thought whether we use partitve articles should depends on the thing we modify instead of the verb

Asked 8 months ago
Some verbs take à, others de as preposition. No rhyme, no reason. It's the way it is. 

But 'faire' does not take any preposition here, "du" (tennis) is partitive articles.

I do not understand why "tennis" (and other sports) use partitive articles when the verb is "faire", but definite articles when the verb is "jouer à"

Nothing to understand, here, Joan. I am sorry to say but that's just the way it is.

Faire + de + le = faire du.
Jouer + à + le = jouer au.

Why do we use partitive articles for 'faire' but definite articles for 'jouer à'?

Il fait du tennis (fait + de le)

Il joue au tennis (joue à + le)

I thought whether we use partitve articles should depends on the thing we modify instead of the verb

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Faire de, jouer à

Just wondering if it might be possible to add a note after the end of the examples for »jouer à/au » and sport saying NB when you play an instrument however you say « jouer à la/au » just to remind people that jouer is used in this way also???
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Marnie,

For musical instruments we use,  'jouer de'.

A few more examples -

jouer de la guitare,

jouer de la clarinette,

jouer du piano ,

jouer du tambour,

jouer de la harpe

jouer des castagnettes....

 

Hope  this helps!

Je joue au foot. 

Je joue de la guitare. 

thanks Cécile it does. Just think it would be useful to mention this in the faire/jouer section on playing sports...as a note...”but when used with instruments it is ‘Jouer de/etc”.  I see somebody else agrees with me.
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Marnie !

This was an excellent suggestion, and I've now added it to the lesson above :)

Merci et bonne journée !

Faire de, jouer à

Just wondering if it might be possible to add a note after the end of the examples for »jouer à/au » and sport saying NB when you play an instrument however you say « jouer à la/au » just to remind people that jouer is used in this way also???

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Might this be a good place to mention jouer de

This lesson mentions jouer a <sport> but it could be improved if it contrasted it with jouer de <instrument>
Asked 1 year ago

Might this be a good place to mention jouer de

This lesson mentions jouer a <sport> but it could be improved if it contrasted it with jouer de <instrument>

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JamieA1

What is the accent of the woman speaking in the embedded video? Is she French-Canadian?

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Jamie !

No, here it's an Anglophone person speaking with an English/American accent :)

Mommy, make it stop!
Jamie asked:View original

What is the accent of the woman speaking in the embedded video? Is she French-Canadian?

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what is your name?

Asked 1 year ago
ahmad
What is your question, Ahmad? -- Chris.

what is your name?

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How do you say, " I play video games (as a hobby), " in French?

Without saying, " I'm playing video games (right now), " instead with the use of, " Je joue des jeux de vidéo. "
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi CrystalMaiden,

You would say, 'Je joue aux jeux vidéo'  or 'Je joue à des jeux vidéo'.

e.g. 

Je joue aux jeux vidéo depuis l'âge de de 7 ans.

Le weekend je joue à des jeux vidéo. 

Hope this helps!

 

Thank you! That makes sense.

How do you say, " I play video games (as a hobby), " in French?

Without saying, " I'm playing video games (right now), " instead with the use of, " Je joue des jeux de vidéo. "

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You said that "French has no present continuous tense" so what about "être en train de"?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

Well, "être en train de..." isn't a tense per se. Rather, it is a construction whose use parallels the present continuous tense in English. But simple present tense in French can also be translated as present continuous in English, depending on circumstances.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

You said that "French has no present continuous tense" so what about "être en train de"?

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In the last lesson, it said "du" meant "from." So how does "je fais du ski" make sense?

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer
Bonjour Donna !

There are two du in French :)
- the preposition de contracted with le which can mean from the or of the
Je suis le fils du boucher. I'm the son of the butcher.
Elle vient du cinéma. She's coming from the cinema.
- the partitive article for masculine uncountable nouns, which means some
Je mange du pain.   I eat (some) bread.
Je fais du ski. Literally: I do some skiing. -> I ski.

Here's the link to our related lesson:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/du-de-la-de-l-are-used-to-express-some-or-any-partitive-articles

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

And "je fais du ski" is of the scond kind. Literally: "Do you do some skiing?" -- Chris.
Bonjour Aurélie ! That is exactly what I needed to hear. I hadn't understood that at all until you pointed out the two types of "du." No wonder I kept getting so confused! Thank you!! Bonne journée !
Ah. I see. Thanks, Chris!

In the last lesson, it said "du" meant "from." So how does "je fais du ski" make sense?

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I don‘t really understand when I can use faire or jouer

Asked 1 year ago
I don't really know how to explain it any better than Aurélie did in the associated lesson. You just have to buckle up and study it some more. Sometimes it is in vain to look for rhyme and reason, just learn the examples and try to use them yourself in some sentences. -- Chris (not a native speaker).
RonC1
Bonjour Jupp, Here are two links that might possibly give you a broader perspective on the nuance differences between the two: https://www.thoughtco.com/french-vocabulary-learn-to-talk-sports-4079654 http://dawn1111.expertscolumn.com/article/french-lesson-when-use-faire-vs-jouer-au-when-speaking-about-sports On the first link, the lesson is written by Laura from this site. I hope this gives you a clearer picture of how to use each phrase. Bonne chance et bonne continuation. Ron (un locuteur non natif

I don‘t really understand when I can use faire or jouer

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A la montagne versus dans la montagne?

I have a question based on a test I took. It stated that one would say..."pour aller skier a la montagne" ("to go and ski in the mountains"). Why is it, a la montagne and not dans la montagnes?
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Helen, 

You would use 'à la' for different types of vacation destinations describing the different kinds of geographical areas like the countryside, the seaside, the mountains:

à la montagne, 

à la mer,

à la campagne 

Hope this helps!

RonC1
Bonjour Helen, As you study French, one finds that there are deeper meanings of verbs which require a preposition either before or after the verb. Aller is a case in point. Aller takes «à», «jusqu'à», or «y aller de» to name a few. For example: Je vais à la montagne, je vais jusqu'à Rue de Rivioli, Elle y est allée de sa chanson. There are also other verbs that take a preposition either before or after the verb. Most of these types of locutions will be obvious by the context of what is being said or written. J'espère que ma réponse vous aiderait. Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde français depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet

A la montagne versus dans la montagne?

I have a question based on a test I took. It stated that one would say..."pour aller skier a la montagne" ("to go and ski in the mountains"). Why is it, a la montagne and not dans la montagnes?

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If you swim regularly but not with a club would you use faire or jouer?

I find it difficult to understand how, without context, you decide whether to use faire de or jouer à + sport?
Asked 1 year ago
RonC1Correct answer
Bonjour Jennifer, Tu fais de la natation. You swim (regularly / in a club). I get the sense here that swimming regularly, faire de la natation, is applicable to your question. That is certainly not a one-off scenario since it is done regularly, i.e. daily, weekly, etc. Bonne chance.
Thank you Ron, I think i'm getting it now.
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Jennifer !

As Ron said, you can use faire de la natation to express swimming regularly.

You can never use jouer, but you can also simply use nager though it won't imply a "club" activity :)

Bonne journée !

If you swim regularly but not with a club would you use faire or jouer?

I find it difficult to understand how, without context, you decide whether to use faire de or jouer à + sport?

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Hi The lesson says that with sports you can use 'fair de' OR jouer à'.

Asked 2 years ago
Sorry I pressed the return key and the incomplete question was sent. I've now solved the problem. Thanks

Hi The lesson says that with sports you can use 'fair de' OR jouer à'.

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Translation of "Elle a fait de la danse".

Why does the Kwik Kwiz say that "She took dance lessons" is the correct translation of "Elle a fait de la danse." instead of "She danced." which was marked as incorrect? There is nothing in the lesson that suggests why this might be so...
Asked 2 years ago
GarethKwiziq language super star
Hi Richard, the lesson explains "When using "faire de la danse" or "faire de la natation" (FOR EXAMPLE) rather than "danser" or "nager", you refer more to an organised, repeated activity (I do dance ...)" We'll make it clearer that means doing dance as in taking classes. Thanks for the feedback.
To say that she danced as a fact wouldn't you say Elle a dancé. .? Therefore the other is about a general activity?

Translation of "Elle a fait de la danse".

Why does the Kwik Kwiz say that "She took dance lessons" is the correct translation of "Elle a fait de la danse." instead of "She danced." which was marked as incorrect? There is nothing in the lesson that suggests why this might be so...

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DonA2

need a reminder of how to conjugate jouer

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Don, Jouer is a regular -er French verb: je joue, tu joues, il joue, nous jouons, vous jouez, ils jouent.
GruffKwiziq language super star
Hi Don, you can see how to conjugate the top 100 verbs here: https://www.french-test.com/revision/grammar/verbs/ and here's "jouer" https://www.french-test.com/revision/grammar/verbs/jouer

need a reminder of how to conjugate jouer

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