On vs nous

Both of them mean "we", but why "on" is known as a third person?What's the difference between them?

In some poems "on" is mentioned as people in general like :

Quand on a tout, on est trop plein. -Joseph Joubert

When you have everything, you are too full (satisfied).

On a souvent besoin d'un coup de main --rarement d'un coup de pied. -Louis-Auguste Commerson

People often need a hand, rarely a kick.

September 20, 2017


I see it working with generalities. Also it translates where English would use One ex. One never knows.

September 20, 2017

"Nous" is more formal, but on is informal. Also, on can mean "one".

September 20, 2017

Yeah you're right, but "on" is not always informal! It only becomes informal when it is indirectly mentioned as "we" in the sentence, but when it is mentioned as people in general it is formal. Thanks anyway :) I'd like to know another difference.

September 20, 2017

That's pretty much it. "On" can be used for something vague like "you/one" or in place of the passive voice, when you want to say that something happened but not focus on who did it. "On sonne" = the doorbell rang - there is someone at the door - someone rang the bell but we don't know who.

September 22, 2017

You want to mention "on" is not informal?

September 22, 2017

A discussion on Quora - - discusses its usage.

September 21, 2017


September 22, 2017
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