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The ''general'' you


Quite often in English, we use the word ''you'' which applies generally, to everyone... for example, ''If you leave the windows open in your house, you will find more spiders''. Very random sentence.

Now, let's say that for some reason, I was in a conversation with a French friend whom I tutoyer, and I was to say that particular sentence. I'm not saying ''you'' to him/her in particular, rather I'm using it in a general sense. My question is, what do we use as the general ''you'' in French? Is it tu, vous, or on? Here's a few attempts at writing the aforementioned sentence... as you can see, I have no idea how I would translate it.

Si tu laisses ouvertes les fenêtres chez toi, tu trouveras plus d'araignées.

Si vous laissez ouvertes les fenêtres chez vous, vous trouverez plus d'araignées.

Si on laisse ouvertes les fenêtres chez on (incorrect, je suis sûr), on va trouver plus d'araignées.

Si on laisse ouvertes les fenêtres dans ta/notre/votre maison, on va trouver plus d'araignées.

July 18, 2017



If you use the 'tutoiement' with that friend in general, you will also use it for general sentences. But you can also use 'on', as you know.

Your version with 'tu' is correct: 'Si tu laisses ouvertes les fenêtres chez toi, tu trouveras plus d'araignées.' You can also switch 'ouvertes' and 'les fenêtres', it may sound better.

With 'on', it should be: 'Si on laisse ouvertes les fenêtres chez soi/dans sa maison, on va trouver plus d'araignées.' Again, it may sound better with 'les fenêtres ouvertes' and also with the simple future: 'on trouvera'.


Ok thanks. I've watched a lot of videos recently, so I just made up the sentences from what I thought sounded the most French... though your translation is actually closer to English than mine, so shouldn't be too hard to remember. Is ''les fenêtres ouvertes'' over ''ouvertes les fenêtres'' obligatory or just preferable? Also, as for on trouvera, it just seemed bizarre, I'd never heard anyone use it... but now I know from you it's ok, I will.


See my other comment. The variants only change the general feeling.


Yes, it seems we were writing at the same time, and I finished a little before. I saw it.


Actually, the compound future may sound more natural, especially in the version with 'tu': 'Si tu laisses les fenêtres ouvertes chez toi, tu vas trouver plus d'araignées.' It is probably the most natural informal version, while 'Si on laisse ouvertes les fenêtres chez soi, on trouvera plus d'araignées' is probably the most formal one.


I'm not too well acquinated with French formality yet. I must be constantly jumping from one extreme to the other. Will try to fix eventually.

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