How to talk about professions in French
Published on November 29, 2022 / Updated on January 3, 2024
When you first begin learning a language, it’s important to cover the basics – and talking about your job is a great example. In this article, you’ll learn how to ask somebody what their job is, how to talk about yours, and some vocabulary for different professions in French. So, if you’re on the hunt for a new job or just visiting a French-speaking country, this is a great article to get you started. We also recommend checking out our article about the best cities to live and work in France for some inspiration!
In any language, when you first meet somebody, it’s common to ask what they do. In French, there are lots of ways to ask this. Keep in mind: You should know when to use vous or tu depending on who you are speaking with. Here is a list of questions you can ask:
As you can see, there are some common terms around work. For example, the word “profession” can be translated in different ways in French. You can say profession, métier or travail. The verb used to describe working is travailler (to work), although it’s also common to use the verb faire (to do), similar to English.
Now, this is where the fun begins! There are two important rules to be aware of when it comes to talking about jobs in French: First, you do not use the indefinite article when talking about your profession. Take a look at this example:
It can take a bit of time to get used to this, but it actually makes things much easier! It’s important to note that if you decide to expand your sentence by adding an adjective or providing more information, you will then need to use the indefinite or definite article.
Second, some professions in French only exist in the masculine form. Here are some examples, so even if you’re a woman, you would use the masculine form.
Fortunately, there are many jobs in French that have a feminine form, such as acteur/actrice (actor), vendeur/vendeuse (salesperson) and pharmacien/pharmacienne (pharmacist). In recent years, gender-neutral language has been a hot topic in the country and has led to much debate, so more and more professions now have a feminine form, such as:
We’ve put together a list of the most common types of professions in French with their masculine and feminine form so that the next time you’re chatting with a French-speaking person, you have the right vocabulary to discuss work. We’ve divided them into different categories.
Food / Restaurants
The next time you ask a French person what their job is, you can add their job title to this list!
So there we have it. There are many other professions in French but this list is a good place to start. Being able to talk about your job will help you along your language journey and who knows, maybe one day you’ll end up with a bilingual career!