Learn How to Talk About Your Profession in French

Learn how to talk about your profession in French

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If you're going to live and work in France, get to know the terms for the professions in Fench. It's impossible to list all possible professions, but there are some common ones you should know. Note that many French professions have only a masculine form. Even if you are a female professor, for example, you would have to say that you are un professeur, which takes the masculine form, including the masculine article, un

The terms below are listed in alphabetical order according to the English word for the profession for easy reference. The first column contains the word for the profession in English, while the second contains the correct French article—​un for masculine terms and une for feminine words—followed by the word in Fench. Click on each French term to hear the proper way to pronounce it.

Note that while in English, it is to simply say the word for the profession, such as "actor," in French the word is almost always preceded by the article. Study the table, and listen to the pronunciations in French, and you'll soon be saying un boucherun boulanger, un fabricant de bougeoirs—the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker—like a French-speaking native.

French Professions

Profession in English

French Translation

actor

un acteur

actress

une actrice

artist

un(e) artiste

baker

un boulanger, une boulangère

butcher

un boucher

carpenter

un charpentier

cashier

un caissier, une caissière

civil servant

un(e) fonctionnaire

cook

un chef

dentist

un(e) dentiste

doctor

un médecin

electrician

un électricien

employee

un(e) employé(e)

engineer

un ingénieur

fireman

un pompier

lawyer (barrister)

un avocat, une avocate

maid

une femme de chambre

manager

un gérant

mechanic

un mécanicien

nurse

un infirmier, une infirmière

painter

un peintre

pharmacist

un pharmacien, une pharmacienne

plumber

un plombier

police office

un policier

receptionist

un(e) réceptionniste

secretary

un(e) secrétaire

student

un étudiant, une étudiante

teacher

un professeur*

waiter

un serveur

waitress

une serveuse

writer

un écrivain

Notes About "Un," "Une," and "Etre"

In Canada and parts of Switzerland, the feminine form une professeure exists. In France, however, this is usually considered incorrect. On the other hand, you can say une prof., a slang way of saying "a professor" or "a teacher." Note that the feminine article, une, is fine in this case if you are referring to a female educator.

Do not use an article between the verb être and someone's profession, as in these examples:

  •    Je suis peintre. - I'm a painter.
  •    Il va être médecin. - He's going to be a doctor.

Social Norms

In France, asking about what someone does for a living is considered a personal question. If you have to ask, be sure to preface your question with Si ce n'est pas indiscret ... ,  which translates as, "If you don't mind my asking ..."

After you learn the terms for professions in French, take a little extra time to learn what a typical French conversation between two people would look like. This will give you a chance to see how French articles, as well as noms (nouns), conjonctions (conjunctions), adjectifs (adjectives), and adverbes (adverbs) fit into a dialogue in French.

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ThoughtCo. "Learn How to Talk About Your Profession in French." ThoughtCo, Feb. 26, 2018, thoughtco.com/professions-in-french-1371357. ThoughtCo. (2018, February 26). Learn How to Talk About Your Profession in French. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/professions-in-french-1371357 ThoughtCo. "Learn How to Talk About Your Profession in French." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/professions-in-french-1371357 (accessed May 25, 2018).