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Faire de, jouer à : talking about leisure activities

When you talk about your hobbies in French, there are two ways to say "I play a sport. / I do a sport.".

 
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  +  [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.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

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.


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


Il joue au tennis.
He plays tennis.


Micro kwiz: Faire de, jouer à : talking about leisure activities
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Q&A

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

11 April 2018

2 replies

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. "

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

12 April 2018

12/04/18

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!


 

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

15 April 2018

15/04/18

Thank you! That makes sense.

nan

Kwiziq community member

9 February 2018

1 reply

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

9 February 2018

9/02/18

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 circustances.


-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Donna

Kwiziq community member

15 December 2017

4 replies

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

15 December 2017

15/12/17

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 !

Chris

Kwiziq community member

16 December 2017

16/12/17

And "je fais du ski" is of the scond kind. Literally: "Do you do some skiing?"

-- Chris.

Donna

Kwiziq community member

16 December 2017

16/12/17

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 !

Donna

Kwiziq community member

16 December 2017

16/12/17

Ah. I see. Thanks, Chris!

Jupp

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2017

2 replies

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2017

4/11/17

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).

Ron

Kwiziq community member

24 November 2017

24/11/17

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

helen

Kwiziq community member

6 October 2017

1 reply

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?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

13 October 2017

13/10/17

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

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

26 August 2017

3 replies

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?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

26 August 2017

26/08/17

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.

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

26 August 2017

26/08/17

Thank you Ron, I think i'm getting it now.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 August 2017

29/08/17

Bonjour Jennifer !

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

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

Bonne journée !

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

19 July 2017

1 reply

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

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

19 July 2017

19/07/17

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

Richard

Kwiziq community member

13 July 2017

2 replies

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...

Gareth

Kwiziq language super star

13 July 2017

13/07/17

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.

Lance

Kwiziq community member

15 July 2017

15/07/17

To say that she danced as a fact wouldn't you say Elle a dancé. .? Therefore the other is about a general activity?

Don

Kwiziq community member

2 December 2015

2 replies

need a reminder of how to conjugate jouer

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

2 December 2015

2/12/15

Bonjour Don,

Jouer is a regular -er French verb: je joue, tu joues, il joue, nous jouons, vous jouez, ils jouent.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

2 December 2015

2/12/15

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

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