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"Autant dormir maintenant"

I just ran across this sentence in my practice, translated as "we might as well sleep now." Larousse's definition #4 for "autant" has this example:

(avec l'infinitif) [mieux vaut] autant revenir demain I/you etc. might as well come back tomorrow http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french-english/autant

I've never heard this usage of "autant" before, and I'm still not sure I get it. Can someone please explain? Thanks!

September 3, 2012



Yes, it can mean "as well" or "might as well". Think of it as "Doing A" will give as much results as "Doing B", or "doing A" would be as good as "doing B". Example:

  • "Si on achète une pomme, autant en acheter dix pour que ça coute moins cher par pomme"
  • Translation : "If we buy an apple, we might as well buy ten so that it cost less for each apple"


It can also mean that "if we're doing A, we might as well do B at the same time. Example:

  • "Si on va à l'épicerie pour acheter des pommes, autant acheter aussi du lait"
  • Translation "if we go to the grocery store to buy apples, we might as well buy milk too"


You could also use "aussi bien" instead of "autant" (I rarely use "autant", i prefer "aussi bien")


Also, instead of "si on", you can use "tant qu'à", it's even better. Example: - "Tant qu'à aller à l'épicerie pour acheter des pommes, aussi bien acheter aussi du lait"


I think it derives from "aimer autant ... ". Eng. "might as well ... ", "would rather ... " , "just as happy not to ...". Literally, "I would like it just as much if ... ".


And it can also be used as an advisory: "Autant appeler les pompiers" - "Maybe we should call the fire brigade".


I think I get it now. Thank you guys!


@hugolemieux: brilliant!

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