Sports and hobbies

Talking about sports

To say that you play or do a sport, you use jouer à (to play), if it’s a ball sport, or faire de ‎‎(to do) if it’s any other sport:‎

  • Je joue au hockey - I play hockey.‎
  • Je fais du ski - I go skiing.‎

Sports using the verb 'jouer'

  • le foot - football
  • le rugby - rugby
  • le hockey - hockey
  • le tennis - tennis
  • le netball - netball
  • le cricket - cricket
  • le handball - handball
  • le badminton - badminton
  • le golf - golf
  • le volley - volleyball
  • le basket - basketball
  • le ping-pong - table tennis
  • la pétanque - boules

Most sports in French are exactly the same or very similar to the English words ‎and all ball sports are masculine, except la pétanque (boules).‎

To say you play a sport you use je joue au

E.g. Je joue au foot - I play football.

The exception is la pétanque. This becomes je joue à la pétanque - I play boules.

Sports using the verb 'faire'

  • le ski - skiing
  • le snowboard - snowboarding
  • le vélo / le cyclisme - cycling
  • la natation - swimming
  • la boxe - boxing
  • la danse - dancing
  • la gymnastique - gymnastics
  • la pêche - fishing (you can also say aller à la pêche)
  • le skate - skateboarding
  • le karaté / le judo - karate / judo
  • le parkour - parkour
  • l’athlétisme‎ - athletics
  • l’équitation - horse-riding

To say you do a sport you use the following:

  • Je joue du - for masculine sports

  • Je joue de la - for feminine sports

  • Je joue de l’ - for sports beginning with a vowel or 'h'

A family are riding bikes in the countryside

Je fais du vélo - I go cycling*‎

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‎*Faire is sometimes translated in English as ‘to go’ rather than ‘to do’ eg ‘I go cycling’ ‎rather than ‘I do cycling.’ ‎

Talking about likes and dislikes

There are a few ways of giving your opinion of different activities. If your opinion is ‎positive, you can say j’aime bien (I like) and if it’s negative, you can say je n’aime pas (I ‎don’t like):‎

  • J’aime bien le foot - I like football.‎
  • Je n’aime pas le rugby - I don’t like rugby.‎

Here are some other useful opinion phrases:‎

j’adoreI love
je préfèreI prefer
je détesteI hate
mon sport préféré, c’est…‎my favourite sport is…‎

After these expressions, you can use an infinitive (the basic form of a verb, which has not ‎been conjugated), such as jouer (to play) or regarder (to watch).‎

To ask someone what they like doing in their free time, you can say:‎

  • Qu’est-ce que tu aimes faire pendant ton temps libre? - What do you like doing ‎in your free time?‎

To give a reply, you can use one of the opinion phrases above, and then say the activity:‎

  • J’aime écouter de la musique - I like listening to music.‎
  • Ma copine Chloé adore jouer du piano - My friend Chloe loves playing the ‎piano.‎

For more useful expressions to use to talk about free time activities, click on the downloadable vocabulary list below:‎

Free time activities


Watch the video and find out how much you know about free time activities in French with this short quiz.