Saying to Teach in French

High school classmates helping each other in class
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The French verbs apprendre, enseigner, instruire, and éduquer all mean to teach but have different uses and nuances. Learn how to recognize and use these four verbs correctly with this lesson.

Teach a Technique or Something

Apprendre means to teach a technique. It can only be used in the following constructions:

  • apprendre quelque chose à quelqu'un - to teach someone something
  • apprendre à quelqu'un à faire quelque chose - to teach someone (how) to do something

Chantal apprend la guitare à mon fils. - Chantal is teaching my son (to play the) guitar.

Il apprend aux enfants à skier. - He teaches children to ski.

Pouvez-vous m'apprendre à lire? - Can you teach me to read?

Apprendre also means to learn and can be used in two constructions:

  • apprendre + noun and apprendre à + infinitive

Mon fils apprend la guitare. - My son is learning (to play the) guitar.

Les enfants apprennent à skier. - The children are learning to ski.

Je veux apprendre à lire. - I want to learn to read.

Teaching a Subject

Enseigner means to teach in general or to teach a subject. It is used in the following construction:

  • enseigner [quelque chose] [à quelqu'un] The items in [brackets] are optional.

J'enseigne le français aux adultes. - I teach French to adults.

Mon mari enseigne la chimie en France. - My husband teaches chemistry in France.

Nous enseignons depuis 5 ans. - We've been teaching for five years.

Teach Someone

Instruire means to teach someone. It cannot be used to specify what is being taught and is used only in the construction instruire quelqu'un:

Elle instruit les étudiants étrangers. - She teaches foreign students.

Il faut instruire les enfants par exemple. - You have to teach children by example.


Éduquer is used just like instruire, except that it is very general: it can refer to vague concepts, particularly morals and manners.

L'église doit éduquer son peuple. - The church must educate its people.

Ces enfants sont bien éduqués. - These children are well educated (well-mannered).

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Team, ThoughtCo. "Saying to Teach in French." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Team, ThoughtCo. (2023, April 5). Saying to Teach in French. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Saying to Teach in French." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).