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Tout or tous?

Can someone please explain the difference usages of these two forms?

October 24, 2012



@Katrine92 et @1km : a living/non-living thing is not true: "Tout le monde", "Tous les rochers".

It is better to see it this way:

  • "Tous" : All of a category : "Tous les jours", "Tous les amis", "Tous les chapeaux", "Tous les carrés"
  • "Tout" : A whole of something or a : "Tout le monde", "Tout le sucre", "Tout le jus", "Tout l'amour"

It is the same for feminine:

  • "Toutes les filles", "Toutes les idées"
  • "Toute la bière", "Toute la misère"
  • Both can be used for different meanings : "Toutes les joies" (every joys) and "Toute la peine" (All the joy) does not mean the same thing (My english translation might not be exactly right, sorry)

To put it simply, ask yourself if the noun will be singular (with Tout, Toute) or plurial (with Tous, Toutes).



Well, the trick is to find the genre and number of the words after "tout,tous,toute,toutes", which take the same conjugation.


  • "mes amis" is mascular plurial, so it is "tous mes amis"
  • "la journée" is feminine singular, so it is "toute la journée"
  • "les chaises" is femine plurial, so it is "toutes les chaises"
  • "le peuple" is macular singular, so it is "tout le peuple"


"Merci pour tout" = "Thank you for everything". "Merci pour tous" doesn't exist, the correct phrase is: "Merci à tous" = "Thank you all".


Thanks. But what about Merci pour tout/tous? Duo seems to give varying answers to this sort of phrase and I don't understand if there's a critical difference or you take your choice.


Thanks. So I shld use TOUT for everything, and TOUS for all? In line with: THING is singular, ALL is plural....


"Tous" is only "all" (or 'everyone') when talking about people or animals (living things). "Tout" is everything/all when talking about non-living things. Examples: "Tous les chiens" (all the dogs), "tout le pain" (all the bread).


Thanks again K92! So TOUS would mean ALL the plural things and TOUT is all of something? ie the WHOLE?


You're quite welcome ;) Yes, "tous" would mean all (living!) things and "tout" is all of something (non-living).


@Katrine92 - I wouldn't try to build a rule based on living / non-living things. How about: "Tous les jours" - "Every day". "Tous les chemins mènent à Rome" - "All roads lead to Rome".


I see your point. There are exceptions. Sorry - this is how I learned it, thought I was able to explain, otherwise I wouldn't have answered. But, when in doubt, and you have to guess, this is a rule of thumb, one can use. But if there is a better rule, which there quite possibly is, I would also like to learn of it.


Thanks Hugo, for your thorough exposition! It's now clear and all we have to do is apply it!

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