Different Ways to Use Fois in French

une fois deux fois french

Fois is a very common French word, used in different contexts. English speakers oftentimes confuse it with the word “temps”. In this lesson, you’ll learn different situations in which fois is used, and learn how to avoid confusing it with the word “temps“.

Une Fois, Deux Fois

In the most basic form, the word fois means “une fois” is an expression that represents an indefinite amount of time, in the sense that it refers to how many times something has been done. It is translated as “once”.

Let’s take a look at the following examples.

Deux fois : Une fois de trop.

Twice: Once too many.

“J’aime mieux être lu plusieurs fois par un seul qu’une seule fois par plusieurs.”Paul Valéry

“I would rather be read several times by one than once by many.”Paul Valéry

Une fois que

When you add que to the good old “une fois“, you get an expression that requires a sentence behind.

Let’s see a few examples.

La défaillance doit être provoquée une fois que le véhicule a atteint la vitesse spécifiée.

The failure must be caused once the vehicle has reached the specified speed.

Une fois que les recommandations seront finalisées, elles seront placées à la fin de chaque chapitre.

Once the recommendations are finalized, they will be placed at the end of each chapter.

Une fois que cette procédure est achevée, elle devrait être respectée.

Once this procedure is complete, it should be followed.

Une fois can be replaced with many  synonyms, such as. dès lors que, à partir du moment que, quand, lorsque.

In French Fairytales : Il était une fois

You’ll discover that just like in English, all french faiytales start with “Once Upon a time” or “Il était une fois”.

Il était une fois, une belle princesse qui s’appelait Morelle.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess named Morelle.

Temps vs Fois

Mistaking the two words for time is one of the most common mistakes: le temps and la fois. The reason is that English only has one word for time: time! In French, temps and fois have different meanings and usages.

Let’s examine both words separately.

  • temps

It refers to “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.

In french, temps also refers to weather:

Quel temps fait-il?

How’s the weather?

  • fois

The word “fois” refers to the number of times you have done something. The unit of time is indefinite.


Je suis allé a Paris quatre fois.

I’ve been to Paris four times.

J’ai déjà vu le film deux fois.

I’ve already seen this film two times.

Once Upon a Time There was a French Student

Onca upon a time there was a French student, who was smart, disciplined, and motivated to overcome any obstacle that appeared on the way. He/She even learned the difference between French words “temps” and “fois“and never again he/she felt confused when to use them.

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