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When to use "demain"/"hier" vs "le lendemain"/"la veille" vs "le jour suivant"/"le jour précédent"

Like in English, demain (tomorrow) and hier (yesterday) are used to talk about moments considered from the point of view of the present.

However, sometimes you talk about moments that are seen from a past point of view. The speaker recounts events that already took place.
In these cases, we use the following expressions to talk about the day after and the day before:

Le lendemain / La veille  

Demain, j'irai m'inscrire à l'université.
Tomorrow I will go to enrol at university.

Le lendemain, j'allais m'inscrire à l'université.
The day after, I was enrolling at university.  The next day, I was enrolling at university.

Hier, nous avons découvert la vérité.
Yesterday, we discovered the truth.

La veille, nous avions découvert la vérité.
The day before, we'd discovered the truth.

 

Le lendemain generally means the day after or the next day

You cannot say le jour après in French.

La veille generally means the day before, but it can also be used more specifically in the sense of the eve, for example at Christmas:

On se réunit autour d'un bon repas la veille de Noël.
We gather around a nice meal on Christmas Eve.

To emphasise that you're talking about the evening before or the morning before, you can also use the expressions la veille au soir and (rarer) la veille au matin, but it doesn't work with l'après-midi:

Je l'avais vu la veille au soir.
I'd seen him the evening before.

La veille au matin, il s'était réveillé avec la gueule de bois.
The morning before, he had woken up with a hangover.

Le lendemain/La veille de + noun = the day after/before [something] 

The main difficulty here is that in French you cannot use a conjugated verb after la veille or le lendemain, unlike in English: the day after he left / the day before you were born.

Instead you will use de + noun, as such:

Le lendemain de son départ, elle fut soulagée.
The day after he left, she was relieved.

La veille de ta naissance, nous étions encore en train de décorer ta chambre.
The day before you were born, we were still decorating your room.

 

Le jour d'après / Le jour d'avant

These can only be used on their own, and will mean the same as le lendemain and la veille, although they're a bit less elegant, more used in speech.

J'y suis allée le jour d'après.
I went there the day after.

Elle lui avait parlé le jour d'avant.
She had talked to him the day before.

Note that this expression can also be with days of the week

Le jeudi d'après, elle était partie.
The following Thursday, she was gone.

Le mercredi d'avant, elle lui avait dit toute la vérité.
The previous Wednesday, she had told him the whole truth.

 

Le jour suivant / Le jour précédent 

Le jour suivant, Ali Baba retourna à la grotte.
On the following day, Ali Baba returned to the cave.

Le jour précédent, ils avaient quitté leur vieil appartement.
On the previous day, they'd left their old flat.

As for le jour suivant (on the following day) and le jour précédent (on the previous day), they are used in a past context just like le lendemain and la veille, but always on their own.

Note that just like le jour d'après and le jour d'avant, this expression can also be with days of the week

Tu veux dire ce lundi ou le lundi suivant ?
Do you mean this Monday or the following Monday?

Le vendredi précédent, il était allé la voir sur scène.
The previous Friday, he'd gone to see her on stage.

 

Le jour suivant / Le jour précédant + noun  = the day following / preceding [something]


To say the day following his arrest or the day preceding/leading to their first date, you will use le jour suivant or le jour précédant + noun.

Il a été relâché le jour suivant son arrestation.
He was released he day following his arrest.

Le jour précédant leur premier rendez-vous, ils étaient très nerveux.
The day preceding their first date, they were very nervous.

 

See also Prochain / dernier = Next / last (durations)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Demain, j'irai m'inscrire à l'université.
Tomorrow I will go to enrol at university.


Le lendemain, j'allais m'inscrire à l'université.
The day after, I was enrolling at university.  The next day, I was enrolling at university.


Le mercredi d'avant, elle lui avait dit toute la vérité.
The previous Wednesday, she had told him the whole truth.


Le jour suivant, Ali Baba retourna à la grotte.
On the following day, Ali Baba returned to the cave.


La veille de ta naissance, nous étions encore en train de décorer ta chambre.
The day before you were born, we were still decorating your room.


La veille au matin, il s'était réveillé avec la gueule de bois.
The morning before, he had woken up with a hangover.


Le jeudi d'après, elle était partie.
The following Thursday, she was gone.


Il a été relâché le jour suivant son arrestation.
He was released he day following his arrest.


Le jour précédant leur premier rendez-vous, ils étaient très nerveux.
The day preceding their first date, they were very nervous.


Le lendemain de son départ, elle fut soulagée.
The day after he left, she was relieved.


Tu veux dire ce lundi ou le lundi suivant ?
Do you mean this Monday or the following Monday?


La veille, nous avions découvert la vérité.
The day before, we'd discovered the truth.


Le vendredi précédent, il était allé la voir sur scène.
The previous Friday, he'd gone to see her on stage.


Je l'avais vu la veille au soir.
I'd seen him the evening before.


Elle lui avait parlé le jour d'avant.
She had talked to him the day before.


Hier, nous avons découvert la vérité.
Yesterday, we discovered the truth.


Le jour précédent, ils avaient quitté leur vieil appartement.
On the previous day, they'd left their old flat.


On se réunit autour d'un bon repas la veille de Noël.
We gather around a nice meal on Christmas Eve.


J'y suis allée le jour d'après.
I went there the day after.


Q&A

Cathy

Kwiziq community member

16 March 2018

1 reply

None of my additional question detail show up

Chris

Kwiziq community member

16 March 2018

16/03/18

Yes, it's frustrating. Please post your observation directly to the kwiziq team using the "Help and support" menu under "Tools". Maybe if more people complain they will institute changes more quickly. 


-- Chris. 

John

Kwiziq community member

6 September 2017

2 replies

Cannot Use conjugated Verb

Since we can't use a conjugated verb after la veille or le lendeman, how do we say "the day before everything burned, the police was on their heel"? Do we have to say la veille que tout était brulé or le jour précédant tout brulé?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

7 September 2017

7/09/17

Bonjour John,
»la veille, tout brûlé, la police était à leur talon« would be a good phrasing.
Bonne chance

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

8 September 2017

8/09/17

Bonjour John,

I wouldn't use la veille here; I'd say Je jour avant que tout n'ait brûlé ...

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

18 February 2017

1 reply

Le jour suivant

Is it possible to say il s'est réveillé le jour suivant le mariage rather than le lendemain du mariage?

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

18 February 2017

18/02/17

Sorry I now know this is ok. Would have erazed had that been possible

Susan

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2016

2 replies

I'm a bit confused by what "on their own" means,

especially when, in an example, "le jour suivant" isn't used on its own. I read the Q&A, and I'm still confused. Which sentence structures are correct for which phrases?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

4 November 2016

4/11/16

Bonjour Susan,

"On their own" here means with no direct complement attached to it.
For example, in "le jour suivant, j'ai fait ça" , the expression is used on its own, as it is then separated from the rest on the sentence by a comma, so it is used on its own.
Whereas in "le jour suivant son retour, j'ai fait ça", the expression is completed by "son retour" (i.e. the day following what? his return), therefore it is not used on its own here.

I hope that helps clarify it!
À bientôt !

Susan

Kwiziq community member

5 November 2016

5/11/16

Merci, Aurélie, for clarifying.
Unsurprisingly, there would seem to be many ways to skin this particular cat. I would be most interested in which ways are used most often in conversational and informal (i.e., non-academic) written French.
I'm beginning to envy La Bourgeois Gentilhomme for speaking prose.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

25 October 2016

1 reply

What am I missing???

"The day before, I had written him a letter." Now, of course I can translate this safely as "La veille, ...". However, why not as "Le jour précédant,..."? After all, it stands on its own, or doesn't it? -- Chris.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

25 October 2016

25/10/16

Bonjour Chris !


Yes, as it stands on its own, it will be "le jour précédEnt" and not "le jour précédAnt (quelque chose)"  :)


À bientôt !

Julie

Kwiziq community member

18 September 2016

1 reply

In the test was a question: the correct answer was "la veille de l'accident.

Could you also say 'Le jour précédent l'accident?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

19 September 2016

19/09/16

Almost, you can say "Le jour précédAnt l'accident."

Johnny

Kwiziq community member

13 September 2016

2 replies

it doesn't work with other moments of the day

You wrote "To emphasise that you're talking about "the evening before", you can also use the expression la veille au soir, but it doesn't work with other moments of the day (matin, après-midi)." Then how do I say the morning before?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

15 September 2016

15/09/16

Bonjour Johnny !

That's a very tricky question!
I actually had to look it up, because as a native speaker, I had never used such cases.
The fact is that "la veille au matin" seems to be accepted - thanks to you, I've now updated the lesson accordingly - even though it's quite rare; you could also say "le matin précédent".
However, for "l'après-midi", you will say "la veille dans l'après-midi", but I cannot claim that I heard this often.

I hope that's helpful!
Merci beaucoup et à bientôt !

Johnny

Kwiziq community member

15 September 2016

15/09/16

I love submitting questions to you because you always give me the credits and sometimes compliments :-)

It's very interesting that you use the evening before but rarely the morning before or the afternoon before. Is it because most of the times people would just say the day before?

John

Kwiziq community member

23 April 2016

2 replies

This is a long, tough lesson!!

I’m having a lot of trouble with this lesson. Can you provide parallel examples of ways to say the same thing with “le jour précédant /précédent / le lendemain” and explain exactly what you mean by the rule that some phases can only be used “on their own.” Also, it is unclear whether the plus que parfait is required or whether the passé composé can be used following a phrase. La veille, nous avions découvert la verité. (example) Are these correct? Nous avons découvert la verité le jour précédent. Le jour d’avant, nous avons découvert la verité. Nous aurions dû découvrir la verité la veille de son mort. Nous aurions pu découvrir la verité le jour précédent, mais nous avons raté les indices. Il a découvert la verité la veille de son mort. I know that's a lot. Thanks for any guidance.

Joakim

Kwiziq community member

23 April 2016

23/04/16

My guess is that "on their own" means they must be followed by punctuation rather than by more words.

Hilary

Kwiziq community member

25 April 2016

25/04/16

Really interesting lesson but I am also unsure what is meant by the 'on their own' proviso. Perhaps while you can say 'la veille de son départ' or 'le jour précedant son depart' you cannot use 'le jour d'avant/d'après' or le jour précedent' with a noun in the same way? I would also like to know if you can use any of these terms to talk about the future as the example 'Tu veux dire ce lundi ou le lundi suivant' suggests you can.
How has your day been?