N. asked: "Why "on me permet" becomes "they allow..." rather than "we allow" or "one allows"."

AurélieKwiziq team member

N. asked: "Why "on me permet" becomes "they allow..." rather than "we allow" or "one allows"."

"On me permet d’utiliser l’ordinateur." (They allow me to use the computer.)

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour N. ! In this case, "on" refers to people in a vague way: we don't know who they are, how many, etc... However, we do know they are specific people who allow me to use the computer in that specific instance. "We allow" would be misleading, as it would include the speaker, and "one allows" would be way too vague and generic. "They allow me ..." is therefore the best translation here to reflect this "on". I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
MartinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hello Aurélie,

Apologies for bringing this up again so long after, but why would this not be "Ils me permettent d'utiliser l'ordinateur" ?

Merci

JessicaA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I think the difference is that "on" implies "they" in the general sense of people and "ils/elles" implies "they" in the sense of a known group. (Aurélie's original response does seem to confirm my feeling on this.)

I'd suggest that "on me permet" is actually best translated as "I am allowed". You might also translate that as "Je suis autorisé(e)", but I think autorisé has an implication of official authorisation and/or having a licence for it.

N. asked: "Why "on me permet" becomes "they allow..." rather than "we allow" or "one allows"."

"On me permet d’utiliser l’ordinateur." (They allow me to use the computer.)

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