How To Talk About The Weather In French

If there's one universal topic that you can use to practice your French language skills, it's certainly the weather. Although the vocabulary is rather straightforward, there are some tricky areas that merit attention. Here are some key pointers.

First of all, the most common word for the weather in French is le temps. There is a bit of a pitfall here because this exactly the same word for "time", Basically, it is the context of the sentence that tells us what the meaning is. Here are two sentences that illustrate the difference:

Je n'ai pas le temps de vous voir aujourd'hui. "I don't have time to see you today."
Le temps est magnifique aujourd'hui. "The weather is wonderful today."

By the way, here is how one says "rain or shine" in French:

Le spectacle aura lieu, beau temps, mauvais temps. "The show will go on, rain or shine."

The second most important word when talking about the weather is the verb faire. In fact le temps and faire often go together, as in

Quel temps fait-il? "What is the weather like?"

The answer to this question is usually based on the verb form il fait with an adjective, as in the following examples:

il fait beau "it's nice outside"
il fait mauvais "the weather is bad"
il fait soleil. "the sun is shining."
il fait gris. "the sky is grey."
il fait chaud. "it's hot."
il fait froid. "it's cold."

Of course, one can use all the tenses of faire. Here are some examples:

Il a fait un temps superbe pendant nos vacances. "The weather was wonderful during our vacation."
Il fera soleil demain. "Tomorrow will be sunny."

The expression "il y a" is often used to talk about the weather. Here are some examples:
il y a du soleil ''it's sunny"
il y a du vent "it's windy"
il y a des éclairs "there's lightening"
il y a du tonnerre "there's thunder"
il y avait du brouillard "it was foggy"
il y aura du verglas "there will be freezing rain"
 il y a eu de la grèle "there was hail"

 There are also a number of specialized words related to the weather. Here are some:

il pleut "it's raining"
il pleut à verse "it's pouring"
il pleut des cordes "it is raining cats and dogs"
il pleuvait à boire debout (in Québec) "it was raining cats and dogs"
il a plu toute la journée "it rained all day"
il pleuvera demain "it will rain tomorrow
il neige "it's snowing"
il a neigé beaucoup "it snowed a lot"
il tonne "there is thunder"
il vente "it's windy"
il éclaire (in Québec) "there is lightening"

The other word for weather is la météo. Weather forecasts are les previsions météo or les previsions de la météo, les conditions de la météo, le bulletin de la météo, Any weather forecast will of course include something about la température. (Note that in Quebec French, la température is often used to mean "the weather" in general.)

In French, the temperature is normally given in degrees Celsius and rarely in Fahrenheit. Here are some examples:

Il fait 10 degrés sur Paris "The temperature is 10 degrees in Paris"
Il fait moins cinq degrés actuellement au centre-ville de Montréal. "It's minus five degrees currently in downtown Montreal."
Demain, on prévoit un maximum de 23 degrés. "Tomorrow, the maximum temperature will be 23 degrees."
Le thermomètre baissera à trois degrés cette nuit. "The thermometer will drop to three degrees tonight."
Le mercure indique présentement 15 degrés à l'aéroport. "The current temperature is 15 degrees at the airport."

For a complete weather forecast, you will need more vocabulary. Here are some typical items:

un nuage, des nuages "a cloud, clouds"
un ciel nuageux, degagé, couvert "a cloudy, clear, overcast sky" la pluie "rain" la neige "snow"
la glace "ice"
des vents de 50 km/h "winds of 50 kph"
une rafale, des rafales "a gust, gusts"
une averse "a shower, showers"
la grèle "hail"
un orage "a thunderstorm"
la tempête "storm"
la canicule "extreme heat, heat wave"
la vague de froid "cold wave"
la vague de chaleur "heat wave"
la tornade "tornado"
une inondation, des inondations "a flood, floods"
la probabilité de precipitation "probability of rain"
le lever du soleil "sunrise" le coucher du soleil "sunset" l
e coefficient éolien"wind-chill factor"
la grésille "rain pellets"
la neige mouillée "wet snow"
l'indice UV "UV index" l'humidité relative "relative humidity"

(First publishd by articles@ezine )