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Ans vs. Années

I am confused whether "ans" and "années" are used interchangeably or if there is a specific context that they are each to be used in. I understand that "ans" is masculine and "années" is feminine, however, what are the rules for using each form?

Thank you.

March 28, 2018



The word an is used for ordinal numbers (1, 2, 3, etc) , unless an adjective is used to describe the word year. In that case the word années is used. Sometimes either word is acceptable.

adjective: "a word naming an attribute of a noun, such as sweet, red, or technical."

It depends on how you view the year, where if it is a point in time, as in using an ordinal number, for the purposes of counting or stating a date, then use the masculine l'an

Use the feminine année is it is :
- more subjective, based on personal feelings, tastes or opinions,
- Focusing on the elapsed time and events that occur in a particular year.


  • I am 20 years old : J'ai vingt ans.
  • I ate there three years ago : J'ai mangé il y a trois ans.
  • I was a student for four years. : J'étais étudiant pendant quatre ans.
  • It was in the year 2000. : C'était en l'an 2000.
  • In the year 2020 : En l'an 2020
    counting years :

  • every single year : tous les ans

  • every other year, every two years : tous les deux ans

While for experiencing events and with quantifiers of few, many, and indefinite counting, as well as adjectives, you use année

  • Last year was good : L'année dernière était bonne
  • Two good years : deux bonnes années
  • It was some years ago. : C'était il y a quelques années.
  • In the third year. : Dans la troisième année.

As always , if I have anything incorrect, I trust someone will point this out. I am also learning French, and not a master of it. ༠


Merci Beaucoup, I had the same question as well, really helpful

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