Temps Vs Fois

One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen over the years since I’ve been teaching French online is confusing the two words for time: le temps and la fois.

The reason is that in English there’s only one word for time: time! In French temps and fois have different meanings and usages.

“Le temps” describes the time as in “having the time” or not having enough time. Here are some examples:


  • J’ai beaucoup de temps. I have a lot of time.
  • Je n’ai pas de temps. I don’t have any time.
  • Ça fait combien de temps que tu apprends le francais? How long have you been learning French?

Temps also means weather:

  • Quel temps fait-il? How’s the weather?

Temps is also used in the expression:

  • De temps en temps from time to time


The word “fois” means time in the sense of how many times you did something. It’s an indefinite unit of time. Examples:

  • Je suis allé en France trois fois. I’ve been to France three times.
  • J’ai déjà appris ce mot deux fois. I’ve already learned this word two times.
  • Combien de fois est-ce que tu as voyagé en France? How many times have you traveled in France?
  • Il était une fois… Once upon a time…

Here are some common mistakes I’ve seen in my lessons:

  • J’ai vu le film deux temps. -> WRONG! It should be: J’ai vu le film deux fois. I’ve seen the movie two times.
  • Je suis allé quelques temps. -> WRONG! It should be: Je suis allé quelques fois. I’ve been a few times.
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