What is the difference between "on" and "nous"?
"nous" equals "we" in English. It is the 1st person plural, and it works exactly the same as in English.
"on" is a bit more tricky. Basically it should be used to designate a person or a group or person, which we are not sure who it might be, how many they are, and if they are male or female. An undefined group of people if you prefer. It could be a group of one person.
BUT, while talking, French people use it instead of the "nous", when it's obvious which persons we are talking about.
Ex: Eric, Jean and Paul are alone in their flat :
Eric: "Vous avez mangé ?"
Jean:"Oui, on a mangé."
Here, Jean doesn't need to specify which person the "on" designates, it's obvious that it's concerning Jean and Paul, and only them.
I hope it's clear enough.
To approximate "on" in English — it's close to "one." As in: "If one is hungry, one eats at the restaurant." <<Si on a faim, on mange au restaurant.>>
In American English, the word "you" is often used in place of "one." In the States, you seldom hear someone saying "In the States one seldom hears someone saying..." (If you caught that - and I'm sure you did.) So, that part of "on" I get - I'm still a little confused about the "we." I'll get it though. You have keep studying....eh.....ONE has to keep studying.... LOL
"Nous" means we in English. "On" also means we (it can also mean they).
"On" is conversational and "nous" is formal. "On" is more common, so it is important to know.
It is important to know the difference between "on" and "nous" because when you conjugate a verb, "on" and "nous" are conjugated differently. Verbs used with "on" are conjugated like verbs used with "il," "elle," and singular names. For instance, let's use the verb "manger" (to eat). je mange tu manges il/elle/on mange nous mangeons vous mangez ils/elles mangent As you can see, "manger" is conjugated differently with "on" than it is with "nous."
I hope this helps!!
On can mean they, too. On a dit quelque chose dans la télé. They said something in TV.
While important to learn the proper syntax of a language, it's nuggets like this that really make you conversational
It`s true. A frenchman I know told me that "nous" is basically obsolete today.
Nous means either we or us as in "we like to play" or "she talked to us" and on means one as in "one never knows what to think"
"nous" is "we" when translated to english and is Nous Sommes in etre. "On" is informal and acts as "anyone","one" and acts the same as il and elle when conjugating verbs
Is "nous" only out of practice in informal conversation, or is it still in use with formal speaking and writing?
"Nous" is used mostly for formal speaking like speechs or things like that, or any written text. In oral French, at least in France, it's been replaced by "on".
"On" in a formal setting (stories and journalism) is sometimes translated in the passive voice. On a vu la mer. >> The sea was seen.
Nous is strictly "we," indicating a specific group of people about whom you have probably already been speaking. The context of the conversation should indicate who nous is.
On can be used in generalizing statements, meaning "one," as in "One should not drive and talk on the phone" (On ne devrait pas conduire en parlant au téléphone). On is perfect for sweeping generalizations, but also as a casual substitute for nous. ""Timothy Sargent-Quora""