Zazie : "Être et avoir"

French song: to understand the differences in use between "to be" and "to have" in French/ les auxiliaires ÊTRE et AVOIR - different from English.

être = used to express WHO we are, someone's essence.

avoir = used to express WHAT we possess, what is TEMPORARY.

Example/ exemple : I am 20 years old = J'AI 20 ans (literally: "I HAVE 20 years").

In French, age is expressed by the auxiliary verb "to have", unlike English because French people consider that age doesn't define them since living beings constantly age. This is also why it is not taboo in French culture to ask someone how old they are (as long as the person is not a complete stranger). Being older/ old is even considered as more prestigious than being young: usually, the older the person, the wiser.

Author: 
Jean-Marie Antonini