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'On' and 'Nous'

In French, 'On' and 'Nous', What is different?

3 years ago

8 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/panagiotists
panagiotists
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They both mean we,but on is sometimes used to describe a total of people.For example "En France on parle français."=In France people speak French.But if you are with your friends and you want to suggest to go the cinema,you can say both "Nous allons au cinéma? or "On va au cinéma?" (they have the same meaning).Also on is third singular,while nous is first plural (pay attention when conjugating a verb).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lazouave
lazouave
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I would just like to add that nous belongs to written French while on (when used as we) is oral French.

In the example you gave, a French speaker would say: "On va au cinéma?". Using the nous orally sounds a bit weird :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/panagiotists
panagiotists
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Oh yes I forgot to mention it!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/K333222

I've even heard "on" for 3rd person plural few times from French people (I mean, from the context it was obvious that "on" means "they")

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/teachinjos
teachinjos
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on means 'one' in English . In French they use 'on' in the active sense, whereas in English we tend to use the passsive sense. I.e. On parle français , one speaks French but nobody would say that in English, we use the passive French is spoken. It is the same as man spricht in German or se habla in Spanish.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/K333222

Ça m'a vraiment étonné d'avoir vu votre commentaire. Pourquoi pensez-vous que j'aie tort ici ? Bien sûr que "on" peut, quelquefois, vouloir dire "one" en anglais, mais il y a aussi beaucoup d'autres cas où c'est plutôt un petit peu différent, où la signification du mot "on" est beaucoup plus proche aux autres mots en anglais qu'au mot "one". Quoi qu'il en soit, je pense que le mot "one" en anglais est rarement utilisé à l'oral, et c'est la raison pour laquelle je panse qu'il y a, très souvent, des meilleurs choix que le mot "one".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Meg_in_Canada

Depends on the person. I use "one" rather frequently in English. A lot of English speakers use a general "you" instead of "one." "You shouldn't rest your elbows on the table at a nice restaurant," instead of "One shouldn't rest one's elbows on the table at a nice restaurant." As far as I was taught and in my experience living in a French environment (Québec, not France), I would say that "on" translates most often to "we," but is also often used as "one," or in that "general you" sense. Les gens de cette région sont vraiment gentils avec des anglophones, si on fait un effort pour parler français. In that sentence, in English, I might use "one" or "you." The people of this regions are actually nice to English speakers if one makes an effort to speak French, or if you make an effort to speak French.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/K333222

I'm certainly not a native English speaker, so I guess I might not be a best person to judge it, but I have to say that I hear "one" in English very rarely when it comes to usual, spoken English. As you said, it depends on the person, but I have to say that, to me, it looks more like a part of the vocabulary of some British lawyer or politician rather than a part of the everyday speech of an average English-speaking person. Anyway, nice to hear from you that it's actually not that formal, and that there are English natives who do use it on a regular basis.

I'm not at all familiar with the Canadian French, but I would agree that "on" mostly means "we" in European French too. That's my impression so far from listening to French people. Also, I hear it used for 3rd person singular (but in a sense in which it would be used "he/she/it" in English, rather than "one") and sometimes for plural too ("they"). Only thing that comes to my mind right now in which I would say that meaning is closer to "one" in English is a construction "il faut qu'on (fasse,...) (qqch)..."

3 years ago