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  5. "On ne vit qu'une fois."

"On ne vit qu'une fois."

Translation:You only live once.

December 18, 2013



I looked at the comments to try to work out what the french actually meant but wasn't helped much except for "On" which I've never seen before: On = You (One); ne () que = only; vit = live; une = one; fois = time;

so it is "One only lives one time" or "You only live one time" Correct?


I sometimes find that direct translations make better sense if we translate "que" as "than" instead of "that" in some cases. Here, I mentally read it as On=One; ne=does not; vit=live; que=more than; une fois=one time;

  1. The literal translation seems to be "You don't live more than once"--which doesn't necessarily entail or presuppose that you live once, though it does imply it (if for no other reason than the fact that you are being spoken to, and hence assumed to be living).
  2. The English version of this idiom is usually rendered as "You only live once"--which presupposes that you live once, and entails that you don't live more than once (i.e. equivalent to the literal translation of the French). => Does it mean that French "ne...que..." has the same meaning as "only" in English? I notice that in Google Translate, English "only Verb" is sometimes "ne...(que)...." (e.g. "I only drink red wine" > "Je ne bois que du vin rouge"; "I only go to Chinese restaurants" > "Je ne vais au restaurant chinois"), but sometimes it is "seulement" (e.g. "I only use Apple products" > "Je l'utilise seulement les produits Apple"). For "only Noun," it seems to invariably be "seulement" (e.g. "Only she knows the answer" > "Seulement, elle connaît la réponse").


Ne ... que surrounding the conjugated verb is just like placing seulement immediately after the positive version of the verb, but it doesn't mean "more than", just "only." It helps me to think of it more literally as the archaic English "not but": On ne vit qu'une fois = (literally) "One does not live but once", meaning, "One only lives once". You could also write it as: On vit seulement une fois.


I might as well add that 'une fois' should be more appropriately translated as 'once'. That way it is as close to the English version as possible.


TYSM for all of these helpful explanations. So glad I kept scrolling until I got here! Maybe Duolingo should offer a second venue for people who just want to pleasantly socialize while they study...


"ne...que" is a negation form, just as "ne....pas", "ne...jamais", "ne....rien", ...


Good information from Kristian Z. Just wanted to add a bit to it.

Ne + que is a negative adverb that means 'only' as in the sentences:

Il n'a que le dictionnaire.
He only has the dictionary.

Elle ne voit que les films étrangers.
She sees only foreign movies.

Like other negative adverbs it has two parts, one placed in front of the verb (ne) and the other placed after the verb (que).



It's easier to remember if you think of it more literally as the archaic English "not but". So, on ne vit qu'une fois could be broken down as "One does not live but once."

[deactivated user]


    On=we. It's another transformation of nous. So it's "we only live one time"


    Carpe diem is not accepted but YOLO is... aaaaargh


    Carpe diem is another idiom: "Sieze the day".

    From Wikipedia: It is important to note that the "Carpe diem" phrase is often misinterpreted and misused in contemporary popular culture, to justify reckless behaviour ("you only live once"). However, the meaning of Carpe diem is not to ignore the future, but rather not to trust that everything is going to fall into place for you and taking action for the future today


    "Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero. Which translates fully into approximately “seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next (day)”

    Meaning essentially: Enjoy today! Because who knows what foul terrors tomorrow could bring!" :)


    Actually meaning: prepare today, tomorrow won't make itself. Or prepare today for what foul terrors tomorrow may bring. ;)


    Well, to be literal and precise, carpe diem is Latin and not English! "YOLO" being accepted is both slightly despairing and kinda great. "You only live once" is the closest translation of this idiom in English, in any case.


    On can translate as one or we, no????


    Correct. ...Although I believe translating it as 'we' is more 'casual.'


    Something like that, it can be used as the pronoun when describing what is traditionally or usually done in a situAtion


    I always translate it as the impersonal you - as in, "you should eat 2-4 servings of vegetables a day". 'You' in this case is not necessarily being directed at the person to whom you are talking, and indeed you may not know to whom you are talking or may not be talking to anybody in particular. It's more a generalized statement, which on reflects in French.


    ONVQF ~ Apparently the French version of YOLO. Like YOLO wasn't enough.


    One lives only once should be accepted too right?


    I'm not so sure that "one lives only once" should be accepted. This is an idiom lesson and I don't think anyone would ever say the phrase that way except maybe in jest. I've only ever heard it with "you".

    (I'm Canadian with English as my only language - mais, maintenant, je sais assez français pour me donner dans la soupe. Heh. I have NO idea if that translates correctly!)


    I say it that way... probably because I've read too many books from the 1800's.

    [deactivated user]

      Who is your favourite author from that era?


      Jules Verne!
      I love his 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea the most!


      Ambrose Bierce, Leo Tolstoy, and I can't help but love Nathaniel Hawthorne. And of course Edgar Allen Poe. Unfortunately I've read few works beyond those written by American and British authors.
      I love to read; if you (or anyone reading this) has a favorite non-American/British author (especially French authors) please list them because I'd enjoy expanding my knowledge of literature!


      but, now, i know enough french to give me in the soup. ???????????????????


      ...pour me plonger dans la soupe....


      Je dirais 'non' - but the french should really be "Tu ne vit qu'une fois." Oui ou non?


      But "On" can be used to mean you in general, so I think it's probably more appropriate here. If you say "tu ne vis qu'une fois" it means you specifically only live once, whereas "on ne vit qu'une fois" means you in general only live once.


      Why not 'vous' then? Can't that be used to indicate 'you' as a general audience too?


      Yes, but it's still slightly different because it's an audience with a discreet number of members, whereas "on" means everyone.

      I'll break them all down below:

      "Tu ne vis qu'une fois" - You, a specific individual, only live once "Vous ne vivez qu'une fois" - You, a group of specific individuals, only live once "On ne vit qu'une fois" - One/Everyone only lives once

      This is my impression at least, I could be wrong. Saying that, I imagine that using any of them would be ok and probably wouldn't raise any eyebrows, I've had French people use "tu" with me but in a general sense, so whatever! I think the distinction is, in this case, mainly academic.


      The technical explanation: 'On' in French translates to the royal 'we' and the indefinite English pronoun 'one'. In English, 'you' has largely replaced 'one' as the indefinite pronoun. Technically, the second-person pronoun 'you' in English (used to refer to one other or a group of others) is a different grammatical person 'you' the indefinite pronoun


      well if so, then perhaps 'Tu ne vis qu'une fois'?


      Sounds like it should be a James Bond film.


      I agree, one only lives once should be accepted.


      They ought to accept it, as a literal translation if nothing else.


      I wondered if YOLO would be accepted, because I didn't want to lose a heart. But then I said "YOLO!" out loud while I typed the Enter key. It worked! :)) #YOLO #sWAg #duolingoRules


      The verbal accompaniment must have been the charm.


      Indeed. My thought as well.


      what is the accepted french hashtag form?


      Sadly the YOLO plague has crossed the Atlantic ocean along its dear cousin "swag" and seeped into France too, so you'll see the same hashtags on French teenagers' twitter accounts. :(


      ...okay, what does the Academy say the official hashtag is supposed to be? ;-p #ONVQUF ?


      I just learned how to say yolo in french. Crazy


      May I ask you why it's "qu'une" and not simply "un"?? Thanks in advance :)

      • 1768

      The structure ne .... que means only, so it is necessary to use que as well, which then loses the final -e due to the vowel in un. Another example (the title of a program I saw on TV5Monde) S'il n'en restait qu'une - If there was only one left of it (word-to-word translation. Apparently it is a well-known song as well). In this example you have to use the feminine une because of fois. Hope this helps! @+ ;-)


      If it was just un it would mean "you don't live once"


      Fantastic. I will now avoid ever saying this.


      That's great that YOLO is accepted. All those who find this terrible are being silly. Duolingo is up on the lingo.


      "One lives but once". What's wrong with this?


      Perfetto! This seems elegant and close to the original.


      Unfortunately, Duo considered it wrong as of August 23, 2015.


      I would report it.


      In Spanish it goes like: "sólo se vive una vez".


      YOLO = ONVQUF So american kids shout yolo do french kids shout onvquf?? ;P


      Can someone analyse the sentence for me? ne ...que means what? Is there ne..que deux, too? What would that mean? fois means something like time.

      Why does it use a negation?

      EDIT AFTER 1 YEAR: I am getting back into duolingo and decided to do some strengthening. Totally befuddled with this question. Let's look at the discussion. Uhh...interesting. Ah! I understand now. Let's scroll some more, wth! That's me. A year ago I was stuck at the same question and even asked around.

      • 1768

      Please check my comment above, see if it helps ;-) I think ne...que deux can be used as well (meaning "only two"); since these two words together mean "only" I do not see a restriction in usage. "But" in English is similar in some cases. Fois uses negation in this sentence because it is a fixed saying. You could say "On vit seulement une fois" with the same meaning, but this lesson was about expressions. Please note that I am but a learner of French, so any comments from native speakers are welcome.


      Fortunately, ONVQUF doesn't have the same ring as YOLO


      I didn't even know of the existence of "Yolo" before reading it in the comments... I try it and Duo accepted it, what a joke.


      Is YOLO accepted? I really hope not.


      Yes. I read this, typed YOLO for the laughs, and it worked. Not even kidding.


      What has this civilization come to?


      What civilization? :)


      Come on.. you only live once, right ;)


      Actually, many people don't believe that one only lives once. Buddhists, Hindus, Qabbalists, Ancient Egyptian Reconstructionists and many others believe in reincarnation.


      I can't believe french people actually say this.. but i wonder, do they say YOLO or ONVQF? o-o


      Civilization was dead and nailed in its coffin several centuries ago.


      #YOLO equivalently works


      Duo disregards any form of punctuation. Sometimes I insert emoji for fun, never complained


      actually in german it is really fussy on punctuation


      When doing German, I've noted it's fussy in capitalization, given that caps are important for a lot of German, but it's not given me any issues about punctuation. (Yet.)


      TripCode -- I think it will be when you get on to the more complicated sentences with conjunctions.


      I've noticed that it is fussy about capitalization of nouns, as it should be in German, but not about punctuation.


      This would make the James Bond film 'You Only Live Twice' YOLT.


      At that rate, they should include carpe diem.


      Carpe diem means "seize the day," which is a bit different from "you only live once."


      Carpe Diem = Saisissez Le Jour


      No longer seems to be accepted :(

      Well, we had our laughs.


      I did the same, and laughed when it was accepted.


      I read this and tried it and it didnt work.


      That's worrying but hilarious at the same time


      Me too! It's so dumb! No offence to anybody.


      yea I typed it in just being a jerk and it went through. I almost cried. We fought the good fight, but it's over now. YOLO has won


      SAME omg. i never make mistakes on purpose but this time i did. really paid off. not sure what moral lesson this is teaching me but i'm sure it's not something that needs to be learned haha!


      HA HA HA, I did YOLO and it worked


      !!! I had to stare for a moment at YOLO to understand what you were all going on about. (Ha. It shows that I don't ever do any texting....)


      Is this how I YOLO? How do I YOLO?


      Yes it is. Now I expect Duo accepts translating "You only live once" to "ONVQUF" in French.


      Strange. It IS!!!!!! I just laughed my head off. No, wait a second, let me fix my head.........................


      I prefer YOYO (You're On Your Own), haha


      I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who thought "YOLO".


      I came to these comments just to see how many people were talking about YOLO. I was not disappointed.


      Doesn't work anymore :/

      [deactivated user]


        ONVQUF just saved me from losing my last heart - merci!


        About to lose your last heart... ONVQUF!


        The French equivelant of YOLO!


        not quite sure it's got the same ring to it as YOLO... :)


        No... somehow I think it doesnt have the same ring... :-)



        Can someone translate this with an explanation of the use of "ne vit" and "qu" ? Why the negative if the translation is you only live once? Its it saying "you do not live but once?"


        While trying to figure this one out, I used the hint on the words, and when I tried ne, it only gave me ne, no English


        I thought seulement meant only


        In this sentence the "ne....que" construction means "only," however "que" becomes "qu'un" and the "e" is dropped, since it's connected to "un."

        See the reply from petic to steelhead16's comment above.


        Unless you're Bond...


        Then it's « On ne vit que deux fois » and it is also a beautiful song by Nancy Sinatra.


        Why the "ne"? Is this not a negation?


        Read the other comments. "ne ... que" has been explained several times.


        Where does the 'qu' come from?


        "ne ... que" together means "only".


        Can someone explain to me what does the word "ne" mean?


        Basically, "not".

        However, ne ... que means "only".

        (A bit like "not ... but" in "He had not but a coat" = He only had a coat, in old-fashioned/poetic English.)


        Just remember: Carpe Diem


        It should be 'you live only once' ...isn't it???


        Well, that means the same, but it isn't how the idiom is said.


        we usually say "you only live once" - putting "live" first sounds a little awkward (at least, to american ears)


        What is the literal translation?


        "One only lives once". It's pretty literal already.

        If you want even more literal, and are willing to use old-fashioned English, you could get "One lives not but one time".


        I wrote you live only once, solely to not write that god-forsaken word.


        What is the direct translation?


        "One not lives but one time." would be an attempt at a word-for-word translation.

        ne ... que is usually best translated as "only", though, so "One only lives once."


        i suggest soon that you add to the lessons the GENDER please. it is not that easy to find it on line. Is this self learning on line or hide and seek?


        I think "ne" means NOT and not ONLY in the sentence


        The meaning of "only" is expressed in this sentence by the combination ne ... que.

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