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List of useful time expressions with the word “temps” in French

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Try having a five-minute conversation in French without referring to time – it’s not mission impossible, but it comes mighty close. If your French knowledge doesn’t include time expressions, there’s a good chance you’ll have to suppress at least some of the stuff you’d been meaning to say. That can only lead to one conclusion: you’ll simply need to know time expressions to communicate effectively in French.

Now for the good news: the following list has been designed for you to patch up any holes in this department. Given that countless time words and expressions exist in French, we decided to group them into different articles just to keep it all nice and clear.

This article covers expressions that actually have the word temps (m) – time – in them. You’ll be surprised how many of these exist!

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If you’re interested in other time-related expressions in French, you’re in luck. And if you don’t want to miss out on some super useful articles on vocabulary (good!), you can check them out here.

Must-know time expressions with temps in French (with examples)

1. Combien de temps…?

meaning: How long …?/ How much time…?

Combien de temps passez-vous avec votre épouse ? = How much time do you spend with your spouse?

Combien de temps ? = For how long?

Tu as vécu à Singapour ? Combien de temps ? = You lived in Singapore? For how long?

Depuis combien de temps travaillez-vous ici ? = How long have you been working here?

2. Ça fait combien de temps que…?

meaning: How long…? (e.g., have you been … ?)

Ça fait combien de temps que tu étudies le japonais ? = How long have you been studying Japanese?

Ça fait combien de temps qu‘on travaille ensemble ? = How long have we been working together?

3. ces derniers temps / ces temps-ci

meaning: lately, recently

Elle s’est comportée plutôt bizarrement, ces derniers temps. = She’s been acting strange lately.

Elle est plutôt préoccupée ces temps-ci. = She’s been rather preoccupied lately.

4. par les temps qui courent

meaning: these days/ in this day and age/ at a time like this

Par les temps qui courent, il faut rester ensemble. = At a time like this, we have to stick together.

Par les temps qui courent, c’est la règle et non l’exception. = These days, that’s the rule and not the exception.

5. de temps en temps / de temps à autre

meaning: from time to time, every now and then, now and again, occasionally

Venez me voir de temps en temps. = Come and see me from time to time.

Ces tarifs peuvent changer de temps à autre. = These rates may change from time to time.

Encourage ta famille à essayer de nouvelles recettes de temps à autre. = Encourage your family to try new recipes from time to time.

6. en même temps

meaning: at the same time

J’étais heureuse et triste en même temps. = I was happy and sad at the same time.

Tout le monde a commencé à parler en même temps. = Everyone started talking at the same time.

Note: First and foremost, en même temps is used to express that two things are happening simultaneously. However, just like in English, this expression has gained the extra meaning “on the other hand” or “that being said” over time. Language purists are not happy about it, and some people still consider it incorrect usage. However, it’s safe to say you’ll be hearing it a lot, because even Emmanuel Macron uses en même temps in this sense on a regular basis.

7. juste à temps

meaning: just in time OR at exactly the right moment (depending on the context)

Le cadeau est arrivé juste à temps pour l’anniversaire de ma fille. = The gift arrived just in time for my daughter’s birthday.

Je suis revenu juste à temps. = I came back just in time.

8. entre-temps

meaning: meanwhile, in the meantime

La loi a été, entre-temps, considérablement adoucie. = In the meantime, this law was considerably watered down. (Literally: softened.)

Entre-temps, cette erreur avait été corrigée. = In the meantime, this mistake was corrected.

9. en temps utile

meaning: in due time, in due course, in good time

Je vais parler de ce sujet en temps utile. = I will talk about this subject in good time.

L’évaluation sera terminée en temps utile. = The evaluation will be completed in due time.

10. au fil du temps

meaning: over time, over the course of time

Mon mal de dos s’est amélioré au fil du temps. = My backache has improved over time.

11. après un certain temps

meaning: after a certain time, after a while

Comment effacer automatiquement des courriels après un certain temps ? = How can you automatically delete emails after a certain time?

12. au temps où

meaning: at the time when…/ when…

Leur amitié remonte au temps où elles allaient à l’école ensemble. = Their friendship goes back to the time when they were going to school together.

Au temps où la radio n’existait pas = When radio didn’t exist

Au temps où il faisait 16 °C en Antarctique = When the temperature reached 16 °C (60 °F) in Antarctica

Work part-time/ full-time in French

13. à mi-temps

meaning: (to do sg) part-time

travailler à mi-temps = work part-time, have a part-time job

Je vais commencer à travailler à mi-temps. = I’m going to start working part-time.

14. à plein temps

meaning: (to do sg) full-time

travailler à plein temps = to work full-time

Les stagiaires travaillent à plein temps ici. = Interns work full-time here.

Il écrit à plein temps et vit en Alaska avec sa femme et sa fille. = He writes full-time and lives in Alaska with his wife and daughter.

Bonus time expressions with temps

15. d’un autre temps

meaning: from another time, from a bygone era

Bien que ces paroles soient d’un autre temps, elles demeurent pertinentes. = Although these words are from another time, they remain pertinent.

16. être dans l’air du temps

meaning: to be in keeping with the times/ to be fashionable

Élégant, confortable et dans l’air du temps. = Elegant, comfortable and in keeping with the times.

17. résister à l’épreuve du temps

meaning: to stand the test of time

Cette conception a résisté à l’épreuve du temps. = This design has stood the test of time.

18. avoir fait son temps

meaning: to be obsolete, to have had its day, to have run its course

Cette méthode a fait son temps. = This method has had its day.

Cette plaisanterie a fait son temps. = This joke has run its course. / It’s an old joke.

Note: this phrase can also mean “to have served his/her time in the military” or “to have done time”, depending on the context. Elle a fait son temps. = She has served her time (in the military). / OR: She has done time.

19. consacrer du temps à qn/qc

meaning: dedicate/ devote time to sy/ sg

Le plus beau cadeau est de consacrer du temps à ceux qu’on aime. = The most beautiful gift is devoting time to those we love.

20. en temps normal

meaning: normally, under normal circumstances

En temps normal, je vous aiderais. = I’d help you under normal circumstances.

On n’est pas en temps normal. = These are not normal times.

21. gagner du temps

meaning: to save time / to buy time, to stall for time

C’est pratique et permet de gagner du temps. = It’s convenient and helps you save time.

Tu vois, ça fait gagner du temps. = You see, it saves time.

La stratégie du ministre consiste à gagner du temps. = The minister’s (secretary’s) strategy consists of buying time.

22. passer du temps à

meaning: spend time doing something

Aujourd’hui, je passe bien plus de temps à écrire qu’à lire. = Today, I spend more time writing than reading.

The difference between perdre VS prendre son temps: don’t mix up the two!

23. perdre du temps

meaning: to waste time

Jai perdu beaucoup de temps ce matin. = I wasted a lot of time this morning.

Nous avons perdu notre temps à cette réunion. = literally: We were wasting our time at this meeting. /This meeting was a waste of time.

24. prendre son temps

meaning: to take one’s time

La loi doit prendre son temps. = The law has to take its time.

Je veux prendre mon temps. = I want to take my time.

How to say “to have some free time/ spare time” in French

25. avoir du temps à perdre

meaning: to have some time to waste

Il faut vraiment avoir du temps à perdre pour regarder cette série ! = You really have to have a lot of time to waste to watch this series!

26. à temps perdu

meaning: in your spare time/ in your free time

Quoi faire à temps perdu : 8 idées folles! = What to do in (your) spare time: 8 crazy ideas!

Note: make sure you don’t mix it up with the expression c’est du temps perdu:

C’est du temps perdu. = It’s a waste of time.

27. avoir du temps libre

meaning: to have some free time (to do sg)

Quand j’ai du temps libre, j’aime bien cuisiner. = When I have some free time, I love to cook.

28. avoir tout son temps (pour qc)

meaning: to have all the time in the world/ have plenty of time

J’ai tout mon temps pour le faire. = I have plenty of time to do it.

Vous avez le temps pour un café ?/ Do you have time for a coffee?

J’ai tout mon temps./ I have all the time in the world.

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