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 + 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

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.


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.


Q&A

Joan

Kwiziq community member

1 December 2018

3 replies

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

1 December 2018

1/12/18

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

Joan

Kwiziq community member

1 December 2018

1/12/18

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"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

1 December 2018

1/12/18

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.

Marnie

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2018

4 replies

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???

Chris

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2018

31/07/18

Je joue au foot. 

Je joue de la guitare. 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

31 July 2018

31/07/18

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!

Marnie

Kwiziq community member

1 August 2018

1/08/18

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.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

2 August 2018

2/08/18

Bonjour Marnie !

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

Merci et bonne journée !

David

Kwiziq community member

8 July 2018

0 replies

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>

Jamie

Kwiziq community member

15 June 2018

2 replies

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

15 June 2018

15/06/18

Bonjour Jamie !

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

Harry

Kwiziq community member

10 July 2018

10/07/18

Mommy, make it stop!

Ahmad

Kwiziq community member

13 May 2018

2 replies

what is your name?

Ahmad

Kwiziq community member

13 May 2018

13/05/18

ahmad

Chris

Kwiziq community member

13 May 2018

13/05/18

What is your question, Ahmad? -- Chris.

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 circumstances.

-- 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

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