Using an/année, matin/matinée, jour/journée, soir/soirée : time unit vs duration

In French, there are two words to talk about the different moments of the day (matin/matinée, soir/soirée), days (jour/journée) and years (an/année), and to know which one to use, it depends on the way you consider these periods as whole units of time, or in their durations.

1.

Je prends le train le matin.I take the train in the morning.

J'ai eu plein de cadeaux le jour de mon anniversaire.I had a lot of presents on the day of my birthday. 

Le soir, je bois un verre avec mes amis.In the evening, I have a drink with my friends

J'ai passé un an en Espagne quand j'avais dix-neuf ans.I spent a year in Spain when I was nineteen.

When we talk about this time of the day or the day or the year as a precise moment, a time unit in which an action took place, we use the masculine forms: un an (a year), le jour (the day), le matin (the morning), le soir (the evening).

 

2.

J'ai travaillé toute la matinée.I worked the whole morning.

Cette soirée s'est très bien passée.That evening went very well.

Les chauve-souris dorment pendant la journée.Bats sleep during the day / daytime. 

Pendant son année sabbatique, il a voyagé autour du monde.During his sabbatical year, he travelled around the world.
 

When we consider that part of the day or this day or year in its duration, when we emphasise the length of time, we use the feminine forms: une année (a year)la journée (the day), la matinée (the morning), la soirée (the evening)

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Examples and resources

Pendant son année sabbatique, il a voyagé autour du monde.During his sabbatical year, he travelled around the world.
J'ai passé un an en Espagne quand j'avais dix-neuf ans.I spent a year in Spain when I was nineteen.

duration


Les chauve-souris dorment pendant la journée.Bats sleep during the day / daytime. 
J'ai travaillé toute la matinée.I worked the whole morning.
Cette soirée s'est très bien passée.That evening went very well.

precise moment


J'ai eu plein de cadeaux le jour de mon anniversaire.I had a lot of presents on the day of my birthday. 
Je prends le train le matin.I take the train in the morning.
Le soir, je bois un verre avec mes amis.In the evening, I have a drink with my friends
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