I was led to believe that the following rules generally apply in French...
il fait + non weather specific adjective (e.g. beau <- beautiful)
le temps est + weather specific adjective (e.g. nuageux <- cloudy)
il y a +article (e.g. du) + noun (e.g. soleil <- sun)
il + verb (e.g. neiger <- snow)
So in this case i couldn't remember what gele meant and im thinking "but it's got to be a verb".
When i saw the answer was "freezing" it confused me, as i initially imagined freezing to be an adjective
literally, 'il pleut' = 'it rains', 'il neige' = 'it snows', 'il gèle' = 'it freezes'. colloquially, because modern english prefers gerunds over regular conjugations of infinitives, 'il pleut' = 'it is raining', 'il neige' = 'it is snowing', 'il gèle' = 'it is freezing'
going the other way, from english to french, the suffix -ant on regular verbs most often changes the infinitive ('to ') into the gerund ('ing'). 'elle joue' literally means 'she plays', but colloquially it means 'she is playing'. 'en jouant, elle chante' literally means 'while playing, she sings' but colloquially might be better translated as 'she is singing while playing'
[the rest of this comment goes into english and french grammar moods and conjugations]
while i was learning french in high school, my teacher taught us the names of parts of grammar that i had never learned in any english class. infinitive (You are to read this page), pluperfect subjunctive (If she had read the page...), present participle (The reading assignment is pages 7-13), and so on. because english is made from so many different languages, french included, learning the grammar rules of those languages can help understand english better. sometimes even better than most native english speakers
for example, 'playing cards is fun' and 'playing cards are fun' mean two very different things, but the only VISIBLE difference is the 'is/are'. [audibly, there is a difference in inflection as well, but thats a whole new can of worms]
most native english speakers could probably figure out how to explain each statement, but someone with knowledge of grammar rules, like french grammar rules, might be more likely to identify that 'playing' is a gerund in the 'is' sentence, because 'playing' acts as a noun [as in 'he is playing' which has a similar grammatical structure to 'he is a man' - 'a man' is a noun] and it is a present participle in the 'are' sentence, because it acts as an adjective [playing cards, as opposed to trading cards or tarot cards or punch cards. or as in 'he is tall' - 'tall' is an adjective]
'playing cards is fun' means '[the act of] playing [a game known as] cards is [an act which is] fun' while 'playing cards are fun' means '[cards which are made for being played with, as opposed to being intended for collecting, otherwise known as] playing cards[,] are fun'
now, keep in mind, that doesnt mean they ARE nouns or adjectives, just that they take on the ROLE of one. 'he likes playing cards' with 'playing' as a gerund means that he enjoys the act of playing a game which uses cards, but with 'playing' as a present participle it means that he enjoys the specific type of card known as a playing cards, whether he is playing a game with them or not. a 'hearing aid' with 'hearing' as a gerund makes 'hearing aid' a noun-noun compound noun [a device which aids in hearing], but 'hearing' as a present participle makes 'hearing aid' an adjective-noun compound noun [an aid that hears]. a 'standing table' with 'standing' as a gerund means a table designed for a standing user, but as a present participle, it is simply a table which is actively standing upright. a 'fighting fish' can either be a fish known to fight [gerund] or a fish which is currently engaged in a fight [present participle]
that was a lot of grammar talk, and im sure it was confusing, but the good news is that even though english uses -ing for both of those grammar moods, french uses 'ant' for present participles and 'en ant' for gerunds. and there are a lot more suffixes in french than there are in english, as youve undoubtedly already figured out. ['i talk', 'they talk', and 'we talk', but 'je parle', 'ils parlent', and 'nous parlons'] french trades ambiguity for more to memorize, but it does make it a lot easier to say exactly what you mean. 'il cours', sure, but in general or right now? 'il est en courant' is much more specific
I'm going to ask the same question as a couple of others. I tried "it's icy", which wasn't accepted. Now, "it's icy" is different to "it's freezing" (although one implies the other!). However, it begs the question - if I wanted to say "sorry, it's icy", for example to explain why I couldn't drive somewhere, how would I say it?
Sorry, it's freezing -- Désolé, il gèle translates literally; it's conversational. Il fait froid -- It's cold out. Il y a du brouillard -- It's foggy out (literally There is fog) Il fait (condition) or Il y a du (clouds, fog, etc) are more formal constructions that also are used conversationally, though the example here is more likely a reply to someone who is asking Que-ce que le temps? or similar.
Quel temps fait-il ?
How is the weather?