Talking about what you like to do in French using the verb 'faire'

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.‎

After jouer à and faire de, you need to use a definite article (the word ‘the’). In French, ‎there are four different ways of saying ‘the’, depending on whether a noun is masculine, ‎feminine or plural, or if it starts with a vowel or silent ‘h’. The words for ‘the’ change ‎after à and de as follows:‎

MasculineFeminineBefore a vowel or silent ‎‎'h'‎Plural
Definite article ‎‎('the')‎lelal'les
after àauà laà l'‎aux
after dedude lade l'‎des

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).‎

These sports all use jouer à (to play), so you would say je joue au or je joue à la and then ‎the sport:‎

  • 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

Examples

  • Je joue au handball - I play handball.‎
  • Mon père joue au golf - My dad plays golf. ‎
  • Mon copain français joue à la pétanque - My French friend plays boules.‎

With these sports, you need to say faire de (to do). You would either say je fais du, je fais ‎de la or je fais de l’ and then the sport:‎

  • 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
  • le skate - skateboarding
  • le karaté / le judo - karate / judo
  • le parkour - parkour
  • l’athlétisme‎ - athletics
  • l’équitation - horse-riding
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:‎

FrenchEnglish
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 Wendie adore jouer du piano - My friend Wendie loves playing the ‎piano.‎
  • Mon frère préfère regarder la télévision parce que c’est intéressant - My brother ‎prefers watching TV because it’s interesting.‎
  • Je déteste jouer aux jeux vidéo parce que c’est ennuyeux - I hate playing video ‎games because it’s boring.‎
  • Tu n’aimes pas jouer sur ton portable? - Don’t you like playing on your phone?‎

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

Free time activities
document

Talking about what you and others did in the past

To talk about what you or other people did in the past, use j’ai (I have), tu as (you have), ‎il a (he has) or elle a (she has) and a past participle such as joué (played) or regardé ‎‎(watched).‎

To ask someone what they did last weekend, you can say:‎

  • Qu’est-ce que tu as fait le week-end dernier? - What did you do last weekend?‎

You can talk about other past activities using one of the following past time phrases:‎

FrenchEnglish
hieryesterday
hier soiryesterday evening / last night
lundi dernierlast Monday
la semaine dernièrelast week
le mois dernierlast month
l’année dernièrelast year
l’été dernierlast summer
l’hiver dernierlast winter

To give a reply, you need to use a form of avoir (to have) followed by a past participle:‎

  • J’ai joué au basket hier - I played basketball yesterday.‎
  • J’ai fait de la natation la semaine dernière - I went swimming last week.‎
  • Hier soir, ma demi-sœur a écouté de la musique - Yesterday evening my step-‎sister listened to music.‎
  • Mon père a regardé des vidéos en ligne le weekend dernier - My dad watched ‎videos online last weekend.‎

Talking about what you and others are going to do in the future

To talk about what you or other people are going to do in the future, use je vais (I am ‎going), tu vas (you are going), il va (he is going) or elle va (she is going) plus an infinitive ‎‎(the basic form of a verb that hasn’t been conjugated), such as jouer (to play).‎

To ask someone what they’re going to do this weekend, say:‎

  • Qu’est-ce que tu vas faire ce week-end? - What are you going to do this ‎weekend?‎

You can talk about other future plans using one of the following future time phrases:‎

FrenchEnglish
ce soirthis evening / tonight ‎
demaintomorrow
mardi prochainnext Tuesday
la semaine prochainenext week
le mois prochainnext month
l’année prochainenext year
l’été prochainnext summer
l’hiver prochainnext winter

To reply, you use a form of aller (to go) followed by an infinitive:‎

  • Je vais jouer au hockey demain - I’m going to play hockey tomorrow.‎
  • Je vais faire de la boxe le week-end prochain - I am going to do boxing next ‎weekend.‎
  • L’hiver prochain, mon grand-père va faire du ski - Next winter, my grandfather is ‎going to go skiing.‎
  • Vendredi prochain, ma belle-mère va regarder un film au cinéma - Next Friday, my ‎step-mum is going to watch a film at the cinema.‎

Quiz

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

Where next?

Discover more from around Bitesize.

The perfect tense: How to talk about the past in French
Talking about where you live in French
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