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"On" substitutes for "il" or "elle"?

How does "On" work in a sentence, I am know it means "we" but can it be used for something else? Is "Il a parti pour la ville parce qu'on veut trouver sa fille." correct?

March 31, 2020



Like Jimmy said, it means "one", as in How does one accomplish that?

Although, it seems to me that the French use "on" more often than anglophones use "one". We use it emphatically, mostly. For example: One cannot simply say, "because it pleases me!" One must explain why. That would be an emphatic statement, whereas the French use it regularly and frequently, and it might get translated into English as one, we, you, they, it, he, she, whatever.

e.g., Quelqu'on a volé mon sac !

(Somebody nicked my bag! or Someone swiped my bag!)

On va au musée.

(We're going to the museum.)

It is unlikely that a native anglophone would say "One stole my bag" or "one goes to the museum." These translations are context-dependent.


Je ne pense pas qu'on peut dire "Quelqu'on". Je crois que c'est "Quelqu'un"?


True. Quelqu'on does not work. That would be On a volé mon sac !

(and it sounds like quel con ! which is an insult)


Ah, oui, "On a volé mon sac." Je dois reflechir avant de taper. :)

d'ailleurs, est-ce que "quel con" signifie la même chose que "quel connard"?


Oui, c'est équivalent, mais moins méchant. Con est plus courant, et parfois signifie simplement bête ou débile. connard c'est assez dur.


je comprends. merci de ton aide.


Thank you for the clear up. So you admit it after already have used another singular pronoun in the independent clause?


oh yea. I see what you're saying.


It is the equivalent on the English “one”. Such as “one would think...” “ one decides this based on etc”


“On” is less specific. Il refers to a specific man / boy / male object while on is less specific and more general. Il aimes les oranges = He likes oranges. On aime les oranges = We like oranges.


You are mixing up the two meanings of on. It can mean either one for an impersonal structure (on ne doit pas fumer dans le restaurant) or we in colloquial language. (On va au restaurant ?)

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