French Grammar: The Verbs JOUER vs. FAIRE

French Grammar: The Verbs JOUER vs. FAIRE

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French Grammar: The Verbs JOUER vs. FAIRE
la grammaire française: les verbes JOUER vs. FAIRE

The verbs JOUER and FAIRE are both used to describe hobbies, including playing or doing sports.  JOUER literally means to playFAIRE means to do / to make. There are some general rules that govern whether to use JOUER or FAIRE when talking about sports or games.

Study:

The verbs JOUER and FAIRE are both used to describe hobbies, including playing or doing sports.  JOUER literally means to playFAIRE means to do / to make. There are some general rules that govern whether to use JOUER or FAIRE when talking about sports or games.

JOUER is most often used to discuss playing games (such as chess, dominos, cards, Monopoly, etc.), team sports, or sports in which there is at least one opponent. More specifically, JOUER is used to talk about sports that use a ball, bat, club, and/or a stick. JOUER is a regular -ER verb.

When used to discuss games or sports, we must use the construction JOUER+au (when the game or sport is a masculine singular noun) or JOUER+aux (when the game or sport is a masculine plural noun).

JOUER+au(x) is used to talk about the following sports and games:

jouer au base-ball : to play baseball

jouer au basket(ball) : to play basketball

jouer au billard : to play pool

jouer aux cartes : to play cards

jouer aux dames : to play checkers

jouer aux dominos : to play dominos

jouer aux échecs : to play chess

jouer au foot(ball) : to play soccer

jouer au football américain : to play football

jouer au frisbee : to play frisbee

jouer au golf : to play golf

jouer au hockey : to play hockey

jouer au ping-pong : to play ping-pong

jouer au rugby : to play rugby

jouer au tennis : to play tennis

jouer au volley(ball) : to play volleyball

NOTE: JOUER is also used to talk about playing musical instruments. Use JOUER+du when the instrument that follows is masculine and singular; use JOUER+de la when the instrument that follows is feminine and singular; use JOUER+de l’ when the instrument that follows is singular (masculine OR feminine) and begins with a vowel or vowel sound.

JOUER+du/de la/de l’ is used to talk about playing musical instruments such as:

jouer de la batterie : to play the drums

jouer de la clarinette : to play the clarinet

jouer du clavier : to play the keyboard

jouer du cor d’harmonie : to play the French horn

jouer de la flûte : to play the flute

jouer de la guitare (électrique) : to play the (electric) guitar

jouer du hautbois : to play the oboe

jouer de l’orgue : to play the organ

jouer du piano : to play the piano

jouer du piccolo : to play the piccolo

jouer du trombone : to play the trombone

jouer de la trompette : to play the trumpet

jouer du tuba : to play the tuba

jouer du violon : to play the violin

jouer du violoncelle : to play the cello

We can also use the verb FAIRE with sports and other activities. However, FAIRE is usually used to talk about sports and other activities that you can do by yourself, rather than with a team or against an opponent. These sports and activities generally do not involve the use of a ball, bat, club, and/or a stick. Use FAIRE+du when the sport/activity that follows is masculine and singular; use FAIRE+de la when the sport/activity that follows is feminine and singular; use FAIRE+de l’ when the sport/activity that follows is singular (masculine OR feminine) and begins with a vowel or vowel sound. FAIRE is an irregular verb.

Here are some of the sports and activities that are discussed with FAIRE+du/de la/de l’. Note that for some of these expressions, there is also a specific verb for that activity (indicated in parentheses and in italics):

faire du bateau : to go boating

faire de la boxe (boxer) : to box

faire du cheval : to go horseback riding

faire du cyclisme (rouler) : to go cycling / to bike

faire de l’escalade : to go rock climbing

faire du golf : to play golf

faire du jogging : to go jogging

faire de la lutte (lutter) : to wrestle

faire de la musculation : to lift weights

faire de la natation (nager) : to swim

faire du patinage (patiner) : to skate

faire du patinage sur glace : to ice skate

faire du patinage à roulettes : to roller skate

faire de la plongée : to go scuba diving

faire de la randonnée : to go hiking

faire du ski (skier) : to ski

faire du ski de descente / faire du ski de piste : to downhill ski

faire du ski de randonnée / faire du ski du fond : to cross-country ski

faire du ski nautique : to water ski

faire du snowboard : to snowboard

faire du sport : to play sports

faire du tir à l’arc : to do archery

faire du vélo : to bike

faire de la voile : to go sailing

faire du yoga : to do yoga

Adapt:

Tu joues au foot?
Do you (informal) play soccer?

Non, je joue au volley.
No, I play volleyball.

Les étudiants jouent aux cartes?
Are the students playing cards?

Non, les étudiants jouent aux échecs.
No, the students are playing chess.

Vos enfants font du sport?
Do your (formal) children play sports?

Oui, mon fils fait de la lutte et ma fille joue au tennis.
Yes, my son wrestles and my daughter plays tennis.

Elle joue d’un instrument?
Does she play an instrument?

Oui, elle joue du piano et de la guitare.
Yes, she plays the piano and the guitar.

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