Is renverser equally good or better for implying "turn upside down"?

DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Is renverser equally good or better for implying "turn upside down"?

Asked 5 years ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi David,

The verb renverser has many different meanings in French  including to tilt, to spill, to knock down (in a car), to turn roundto invert, to overthrow...

The lesson here is concentrating on the different meanings of 'retourner' whether you use 'avoir' or 'être'.

Hope this helps!

DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you, Cécile.

I agree as far the lesson goes, but in real life could I use either word equally to mean "turn upside down" or is renverser inappropriate for some cases. I first learned renverser but since  retourner is confusing due to its double usage I would rather avoid it. 

E.g. "J'ai retourné le sablier" or "j'ai renversé le sablier" for "I inverted the hourglass".

CécileKwiziq team member

Unfortunately, if you say, "J'ai renversé le sablier", we hear:

"I knocked the egg timer over",

so no, you can't interchange the two verbs.

Bonne continuation!


DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you Cécile.

That is the really hard part about learning languages, even my native English - what is the right word to use in each situation.

TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

That's very interesting, got me thinking since I, like you David,  would habitually use renverser in this situation.

Harraps French/English dictionary gives a meaning of "renverser" as "to turn upside down", equivalent to "retourner exprès"

Collins/Robert treats it similarly : "to turn upside down" equivalent, "mettre à l'envers" and provides a sample usage: "renverser un seau - to turn a bucket upside down"

Finaly L'Académie française 9e édition.

2. Mettre à l'envers, retourner ; basculer dans la position contraire à celle qui est habituelle ou qui précède. Renverser une barque quille en l'air pour la réparer. Couvrir un plat d'une assiette renversée. 

Is renverser equally good or better for implying "turn upside down"?

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