On = we, one, people

On : we

Look at these examples:

On est très proches, ma soeur et moi.
We are very close, my sister and I.


On va au cinéma ce soir
We're going to the cinema tonight.


On y va!
Let's go!

This use of "on" is for a specific group of people of which you're part: e.g. 'My friends and I'.

Here "on" is equivalent in meaning to "nous" (we), though they aren't followed by the same conjugation of the verb:

On est gentils.
We're nice.


Nous sommes gentils.
We're nice.

See also Nous vs on (subject pronouns)

On : one/you/people

You can also use 'on' in a more general sense like this:

Si on travaille dur, on gagne plus
If you work hard you earn more

Here "on" includes Men/people in general, or can be a theoretical statement such as"one <does that>".

This form is often used when expressing rules such as:

On ne doit pas parler la bouche pleine.
People mustn't speak with their mouths full.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

On ne doit pas parler la bouche pleine.
People mustn't speak with their mouths full.



Nous sommes gentils.
We're nice.


On est gentils.
We're nice.


on = one/you/people/we


Si on travaille dur, on gagne plus
If you work hard you earn more


on = we


On va au cinéma ce soir
We're going to the cinema tonight.


On est très proches, ma soeur et moi.
We are very close, my sister and I.


on = we/us


On y va!
Let's go!


Q&A Forum 32 questions, 59 answers

AworeleA1Kwiziq community member

Can we get this has an application on our gagdet?

Asked 5 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Aworele,

Can you contact 'Help and Support' as this is a forum for language questions.

Merci!

Can we get this has an application on our gagdet?

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MichelleA1Kwiziq community member

It should be clear that more than one answer is expected per question, if applicable.

Asked 6 months ago
HeroA1Kwiziq community member

If it is multiple choice, than instead of circles next to answers, it will be squares. Just a tip :)

It should be clear that more than one answer is expected per question, if applicable.

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GwenA1Kwiziq community member

It seems Kwiziq is counting things as unanswered when I have answered them.

Also, how do I get to take the quiz again after looking over the material again?

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Gwen,

Re-post using the Help & Support feature under ‘Tools’ as this is a language forum.

It seems Kwiziq is counting things as unanswered when I have answered them.

Also, how do I get to take the quiz again after looking over the material again?

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StellaA1Kwiziq community member

Greetings! Could someone please tell me why «On ne peut pas stationner ici» cannot be translated to “one cannot park here?” ...thank you!

We know that “on” has been explained to mean “one” (in general terms) just like in English, in which case in the sentence above it would mean “no one is allowed to park here, generally”. So I am confused by the fact that, the answer to the multiple choice questions did not include the above option as a valid answer :(

Asked 6 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

I guess that the options to the multiple choice question don't necessarily have to contain all possibly correct answers. You're just supposed to choose from among those given. But I can't tell for sure because I don't know the exact question and set of answers.

StellaA1Kwiziq community member

Thanks Chris for taking the time to respond. My apologies for not including the set of answer choices that came with the question. I will post them when I find them :). Great day to you!

Greetings! Could someone please tell me why «On ne peut pas stationner ici» cannot be translated to “one cannot park here?” ...thank you!

We know that “on” has been explained to mean “one” (in general terms) just like in English, in which case in the sentence above it would mean “no one is allowed to park here, generally”. So I am confused by the fact that, the answer to the multiple choice questions did not include the above option as a valid answer :(

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RiyaA1Kwiziq community member

where do we use on?

Asked 6 months ago
MichelleC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I'm not sure what you mean by where? In what kind of situation? On is more informal than nous. So in writing and formal situations, you'd use nous more often while you'd use on in casual conversations and writing (like texts and emails to a friend).

where do we use on?

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JanB1Kwiziq community member

Pense-t-on means`Is it thought'?

Pense-t-on que Caligula était fou?

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Jan, 

If you take a look at the following lesson on the passive voice, using 'on' is one of the way to avoid  it...

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/glossary/voice/la-voix-passive-passive-voice.

When you don't know who 'on' refers to -

On dit qu'il est parti sans payer = it is said the he left without paying

On a trouvé une carte d'identité dans le jardin = An identity card has been found in the garden

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Yes, pense-t-on means "Does one think..."

It could also mean "Do we think" but the inverted form of the question, which is used primarily in a higher register of French, clashes with the more colloquial use of on meaning "we".

JanB1Kwiziq community member

So, to make a question, just inflect `On dit/peut dire que Caligula était fou? 

JanB1Kwiziq community member

Good point about mixed registers, thanks.

Pense-t-on means`Is it thought'?

Pense-t-on que Caligula était fou?

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FaithandrewsA0Kwiziq community member

Also, On can be used to refer to ''you'' as in lots of people but I thought that was the translation/ role of Vous?

Asked 7 months ago
MichelleC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Vous as a plural pronoun adresses a specific group. You--group of people--that I'm talking to right now. On is more general and also more...all encompassing, for lack of a better word. 

To illustrate this with a sentence:

Vous ne devriez pas vous battre-- You two people that I'm talking to shouldn't fight.

On ne devrait pas se battre-- People in general shouldn't fight

I hope that helps (and makes sense).

Also, On can be used to refer to ''you'' as in lots of people but I thought that was the translation/ role of Vous?

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FaithandrewsA0Kwiziq community member

since On is used to refer to we/ people etc, why does it make use of the subject verb conjugation of il/elle. eg il est/ on est. Instead of On sommes

Sorry, if my questions may sound dumb but i am a curious person. Not satisfying my curiosity can keep me in a blank world of confusion.

Asked 7 months ago
MichelleC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Technically on is the equivalent on "one" meaning one hypothetical person. In English, we also conjugate this in the third person singular. "One is" not "One are" even though "One is responsible for ones own life" can very well mean "We (people) are responsible for our own lives). 

Of course on is also used in ways one cannot be used, to mean we. My guess (and this is just that, a guess) is that the plural usage of on came into use long after its conjugation in third person singular was established and people just kept saying "On est" even in cases where it means "we". It is indeed interesting to think about

since On is used to refer to we/ people etc, why does it make use of the subject verb conjugation of il/elle. eg il est/ on est. Instead of On sommes

Sorry, if my questions may sound dumb but i am a curious person. Not satisfying my curiosity can keep me in a blank world of confusion.

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LizC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Is it true that the pronouns on and nous can be used anytime we want to indicate we? I’ve heard that using nous is more formal, but is it wrong?

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Liz,

Indeed you are right, the French will use 'on' for 'nous' all the time that is why teaching it is so important....

In formal written form, 'nous' will be more elegant...

Hope this helps!

 

CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Joan,

In written form, 'on' meaning 'nous' will be avoided ( except perhaps in informal family emails and the like).

Probably the only time you will encounter 'on' in written form (maybe in newspapers)  it will be for the general meaning of one /people/ universal you ...when you can say 'on n'a pas de nom' ...

e.g.

On dit que la pollution humaine est la cause de bien des maux it is said that human pollution is the source of many evils.

Hope this helps!

FaithandrewsA0Kwiziq community member

so they can be interchangeably  but french speakers use ''on'' on daily basis. while ''nous'' is used mostly for very formal and written form?

CécileKwiziq team member

In a nutshell yes....

FaithandrewsA0Kwiziq community member

Thanks for you reply.

JoanA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

When we want to say 'we', it is more elegant to use 'nous' instead of 'on', but when we want to say 'you/one/people' in formal writing , can we use 'on'? 

Is it true that the pronouns on and nous can be used anytime we want to indicate we? I’ve heard that using nous is more formal, but is it wrong?

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JaneA1Kwiziq community member

On mange du fromage ce matin?

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Do you have a question, Jane?

On mange du fromage ce matin?

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DonA1Kwiziq community member

isn't on third person singular and those can mean like we us one in english, "one goes...

Asked 9 months ago

isn't on third person singular and those can mean like we us one in english, "one goes...

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PaolaA1Kwiziq community member

Why don't we pronounce the first "que" in "On a que ce que l'on mérite?"

I saw this on the video. Thank you.
Asked 10 months ago
SteveB2 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Interesting.

I think the "normal" idiom in French is:

"On n'a que ce que l'on mérite." (literally: one only has that which one deserves).

For the purposes of that video, and to bring it into line with the English idiom, I think the n' has been removed, but not the "que".

I think it should read:

"On a ce que l'on mérite." (literally: one has that which one deserves).

So the orator didn't pronounce the first que, because he didn't think it was there. If he knew it was there, he would have removed it (that's what I think has happened here anyway).

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi paola,

This is a third party resource so we have no control over it but a good point nevertheless.

I would argue that if you use 'ce que l'on ' ( which could have been 'ce qu'on') you should have 'on n'a' ( with the 'ne' explétif ) to keep the same register .

On n'a que ce que l'on mérite...

Why don't we pronounce the first "que" in "On a que ce que l'on mérite?"

I saw this on the video. Thank you.

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EveA1Kwiziq community member

One must sleep at night

Why would you say "Il faut dormir la nuit." instead of "On faut dormir la nuit" for "One must sleep at night"
Asked 10 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Eve,

The verb 'falloir' only has one form - an impersonal il ---- Il faut

It is similar in meaning to the impersonal 'on doit ..."

If you also look at my answer to a similar question: 

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/questions/view/il-faut-1

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

You can say either:

On doit dormir la nuit. Or Il faut dormir la nuit.

Il faut already means "one must" or "it is necessary".

One must sleep at night

Why would you say "Il faut dormir la nuit." instead of "On faut dormir la nuit" for "One must sleep at night"

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ShariA1Kwiziq community member

Why can «On ne peut pas stationner ici» mean ‘You cannot park here’ but not ‘We cannot park here’? The verb tense doesn’t match either.

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Shari,

'On ne peut pas stationner ici'    is     'You cannot park here'...

The you here applies to everyone, in other words,  it is forbidden to park here.

It is a bit like: 

On ne sait jamais ce que nous réserve l'avenir = You never know what the future holds

Which is a saying for a truth that applies to everyone.

Not sure what you mean about the verb tense not matching...

ShariA1Kwiziq community member
Thanks, Cécile.  I selected all three in my quiz answer - One, You and We - but the answer was just One and You.  I was trying to figure out how I could decipher why We was not included and thought the form of the conjugation (sorry, not tense) ‘peut’ might be an indication.  But ‘peut’ matches the third person spelling so that left me with the question of why You and not We.
AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Shari,

All 3 are correct - I just tried the question myself and it accepted all 3.

With these multiple selection questions, I sometimes find that one of the answers I was sure I had selected is missing. Then it can be confusing when you compare the correct answer with what you supposedly entered. Maybe that's happened to you.

I have a feeling there may be a bug somewhere - perhaps if you click on the answers too quickly.

Shari asked:View original

Why can «On ne peut pas stationner ici» mean ‘You cannot park here’ but not ‘We cannot park here’? The verb tense doesn’t match either.

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Claudia A2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Bon soir. On the video in this lesson I would like to see if I understood well.

On fait que ce l'on peut.        Mange-t-on du riz. The "l" is used to avoid two vowels crashing into eachother and the "t" ??? I've seen the "t" more often than the "l". They are only for a more harmonious flow of the spoken language, but how do you know which to use when?
Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Claudia,

In the first example -

‘On fait ce que l’on peut’ the -l is added because otherwise you would say -

‘...que on peut‘  and ‘que on’ doesn’t only clash but can sound like the rude word ‘con’ in French .

In your second example -

Mange -t-on du riz?

the -t is necessary as otherwise it would sound like  ‘Mange on ....’ which would sound like a command, Mangeons! ( Let’s eat!)

So, often these two letters are added to make the language flow more freely and to avoid ambiguity.

Hope this helps!

 

Claudia A2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Salut 

My question was mainly about when do I use  L  and when I should use  T. Is there a rule or can I use them interchangeably?

Merci

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Claudia, 

The -t is used mainly with inversion subject and verb when the verb ends in a vowel  and the pronoun starts with one , so mainly for regular verbs with ER endings but some others too -

A-t-on compris?

Achète- t- il du beurre?

A-t-elle des chances de réussir?

The -l is only with 'on' I believe, can't think of another instance where you might use it...

 

 

 

Bon soir. On the video in this lesson I would like to see if I understood well.

On fait que ce l'on peut.        Mange-t-on du riz. The "l" is used to avoid two vowels crashing into eachother and the "t" ??? I've seen the "t" more often than the "l". They are only for a more harmonious flow of the spoken language, but how do you know which to use when?

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AyushiA0Kwiziq community member

No quiz is showing for this lesson

Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team member
Hi Ayushi - I can see a kwiz so if this is still an issue for you, please take a screenshot and send it in to support. Many thanks!
AyushiA0Kwiziq community member
Okay!

No quiz is showing for this lesson

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RenwaA1Kwiziq community member

why "nous" and "on" aren't followed by the same conjugation of the verb

so is it wrong to say on sommes gentille ? and why ?
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
Yes, it would be wrong. "On" always and without exception takes the verb in 3rd person singular.
RenwaA1Kwiziq community member
merci beaucoup :)

why "nous" and "on" aren't followed by the same conjugation of the verb

so is it wrong to say on sommes gentille ? and why ?

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SophiaA1Kwiziq community member

So i just took the little quiz in the end and I got one wrong because I checked an option that included 'we'.

How do you know whether it is plural or singular besides looking at the verb ending or the article? Thank you so much!
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Sometimes you know because the participle or an adjective gives it away. Simetimes you only know from context. 

-- Chris. 

So i just took the little quiz in the end and I got one wrong because I checked an option that included 'we'.

How do you know whether it is plural or singular besides looking at the verb ending or the article? Thank you so much!

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MaloyendraB1Kwiziq community member

Can't find any micro kwiz here - shows a blank space after "1 of 0"

Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team member
Hi - I just checked and this seems fine. Is this still happening for you?

Can't find any micro kwiz here - shows a blank space after "1 of 0"

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HC1Kwiziq community member

"On est gentilS"?

You give the example "On est gentils" - should that be "On est gentil" (i.e. the adjective is singular after 'on' even if I'm using "on" to talk about a group of people)? Or am I mistaken? Thank you.
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

"On" can be used as an informal "we" or a more impersonal, general subject like the English "one". Depending on which one it is, one uses either the plural (when used as "we") or the singular (when used as "one").

On est allés au cinéma hier soir. -- We went to the movies yesterday evening.
Olivier et moi, on est mariés. -- Oliver and I, we are married.
Quand on est poli, on accueille les invités. -- If one is polite, one welcomes the guests.

The first two sentences are examples of "on" meaning "we"; the last one features "on" as "one".

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

HC1Kwiziq community member
Thank you, that's very helpful.

"On est gentilS"?

You give the example "On est gentils" - should that be "On est gentil" (i.e. the adjective is singular after 'on' even if I'm using "on" to talk about a group of people)? Or am I mistaken? Thank you.

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JudyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Are we going out?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Judy, 

the lesson is about "on", hence I suspect the answer is looking for a construction using it. 

On sort -- Are we going out. 

Nous sortons? -- Are we going out (using nous in place of on). 

Va-t-on sortir? -- Are we going to go out?

Allons-nous sortir? Are we going to go out (using nous). 

"Allons-nous sort" is incorrect because need the infinitive (sortir) after the conjugated verb. "Sortir" means "to go out" it can't be used as an adjective for "out". 

-- Chris (not a native speaker). 

JudyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
It was a wrong answer when I used "allons-nous sort?" for this kwiz question. Why is it wrong?
JudyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you Chris.  I did finally realize that the verb was not the proper tense in my answer--but not until after I had posted the question!

Are we going out?

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LewisC1Kwiziq community member

Aller present tense form with 'on' vs 'nous'.

I understand 'va' to be the il/elle present tense form of aller, so why is "On va..." correct and "On allons..." incorrect?
Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Bonjour Lewis !

"Va" is indeed the form for "il/elle" but also for "on".
Think of "on" as an equivalent to the general "one" (both are singular words, but refer to more than one person):
On va à la plage.
We go to the beach.
One goes to the beach.

See also : 
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/subject-pronouns-nous-versus-on

 

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Aller present tense form with 'on' vs 'nous'.

I understand 'va' to be the il/elle present tense form of aller, so why is "On va..." correct and "On allons..." incorrect?

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Truc ThanhA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

About the explanation of "on"

Hi guys! I find the page of Kwiziq very interesting. You explain " people shouldn't speak with their mouths full" : " on ne doit pas parler la bouche pleine" . Why is there not "avec" between " parler" et "la"? It doesn't seem like correct french grammar? Are there any misspelling here?Thanks a lot.
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Parler la bouche pleine means to speak with your mouth full.
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Truc, Here is another locution that uses «avec» : Les gens ne devraient pas parler avec leur bouche pleine In fact, here is another translation to the phrase in your question: «On ne doit pas parler la bouche pleine» --> You do not have to talk with your mouth full . As can be seen from the different locutions, they say similar things in a different way, i.e. don't talk with your mouth full. After I reread the lesson, I better understand the syntax: «You can also use 'on' in a more general sense like this: Si on travaille dur, on gagne plus If you work hard you earn more Here "on" includes Men/people in general, or can be a theoretical statement such as"one ". This form is often used WHEN EXPRESSING RULES such as: On ne doit pas parler la bouche pleine. People shouldn't speak with their mouths full.» What I get from this as a takeaway is this: «On» is being used in a general sense in a politeness rule; sometimes in stating a rule, the very valid French grammar is not always adhered to and the lesson is on the use of «on» not about the use of «la bouche pleine» nor about «avec la bouche pleine». If we write this in l'imperatif this is the phrase: «Ne parle pas la bouche pleine» or «Ne parlez pas avec la bouche pleine». J'espère que ma réponse vous aiderait. Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde français depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet Ron (un locuteur non natif )
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
The French grammar actually is correct. You don't need the word "avec" as in the corresponding English version "with your mouth full". -- Chris (not a native speaker).

About the explanation of "on"

Hi guys! I find the page of Kwiziq very interesting. You explain " people shouldn't speak with their mouths full" : " on ne doit pas parler la bouche pleine" . Why is there not "avec" between " parler" et "la"? It doesn't seem like correct french grammar? Are there any misspelling here?Thanks a lot.

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AmandaA0Kwiziq community member

haha

its impossible to get a silver shield im supposed to be advanced!
Asked 1 year ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Amanda, Bien que je comprends votre frustration en essayant à gagner le bouclier d’argent, j'en ai gagné. Alors, c'est possible, bien sûr ! Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos efforts
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Si, c'est possible. Je peux le confirmer. -- Chris.

haha

its impossible to get a silver shield im supposed to be advanced!

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AlicanA0Kwiziq community member

"On ne doit pas.." How we can understand instantly this sentence is talking about We or People?

Asked 2 years ago
GruffKwiziq team member
Hi Alican, you can't really. It would made clear from the context of the conversation though. I.e. the previous sentence(s) will have introduced the context for either 'we' or people in general.

"On ne doit pas.." How we can understand instantly this sentence is talking about We or People?

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DaveB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I'm seeing "1 of 0" questions on this page, is this right?

Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Bonjour Dave, Thanks so much for letting us know, I'll pass this info on to tech support. If you run into any other issues, please email us at info@kwiziq.com
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonsoir Dave, I would suggest to try reloading the page. When I pulled up the lesson it is showing 1 of 2 questions.

I'm seeing "1 of 0" questions on this page, is this right?

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JohnnieA1Kwiziq community member

When to use avec ?

Why in the sentence, "On ne doit pas parler la bouche pleine." is avec not used before 'la bouche pleine" ? Is there a rule to guide us on when to use or not use avec ?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Bonjour Johnnie !

With most expressions regarding body parts - with your eyes shut, with your mouth full... - in French, you will not use avec, and simply the definite article (le/la/les) rather than the possessive:

Je dors les yeux fermés.
I sleep with my eyes shut.

Elle le regarde la bouche ouverte.

She's looking at him with her mouth open.

Have a look at our related lesson:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/using-le-la-les-with-body-parts-and-clothing-definite-articles

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

When to use avec ?

Why in the sentence, "On ne doit pas parler la bouche pleine." is avec not used before 'la bouche pleine" ? Is there a rule to guide us on when to use or not use avec ?

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GerberaA1Kwiziq community member

Why the verb is used in Conditional?

Thanks so much for the great lesson. However, I am now really confused about why the sentence "You wouldn't think she is 90'' is translated into ' On ne lui donnerait pas 90 ans''? Why is the verb in Conditional? Thank you so much.
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Gerbera ! Here, the French sentence literally reads as "You wouldn't give her 90 years.", which echoes the notion of doubt contained in "You *wouldn't* think she is 90.". Both sentences are in the conditional here, to express uncertainty. I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
NigelA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Aurelie, many thanks, your explanation is clear. But I don't understand why the other example used isn't also in the conditional i.e. " people shouldn't speak with their mouths full" : " on ne doit pas parler la bouche pleine". Why isn't the English translation "people mustn't eat with their mouths full"?
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Nigel ! You are absolutely right on this one :) I've now edited the English to match the French, thanks to you. Merci et à bientôt !

Why the verb is used in Conditional?

Thanks so much for the great lesson. However, I am now really confused about why the sentence "You wouldn't think she is 90'' is translated into ' On ne lui donnerait pas 90 ans''? Why is the verb in Conditional? Thank you so much.

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MatthewA1Kwiziq community member

synonymous or separate?

The lesson states that using the pronoun "on" is equivalent to using the pronoun "nous" to indicate "we", but when appearing in a quiz it says that using "nous" is incorrect and "on" is correct. If there is a significant difference in usage, then it should be explained in the lesson, as it fails to do so. If it states that they are synonymous and exchangeable in use, then correction needs to be to that effect. I can't learn how to use them for what they mean when in dictation they are one thing but are another thing entirely when put into practice.
Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Matthew, Can you please post an example of a case where "on" was marked incorrect? It may have been a simple matter of verb conjugation - if the question was something like "___ habitons ici depuis 10 ans," the answer can only be "nous" due to the conjugation habitons.
AurélieKwiziq team member
In meaning, they are interchangeable, however they are not followed by the same verb conjugations: we are = "nous sommes" = "on est" (same form as "il/elle")

synonymous or separate?

The lesson states that using the pronoun "on" is equivalent to using the pronoun "nous" to indicate "we", but when appearing in a quiz it says that using "nous" is incorrect and "on" is correct. If there is a significant difference in usage, then it should be explained in the lesson, as it fails to do so. If it states that they are synonymous and exchangeable in use, then correction needs to be to that effect. I can't learn how to use them for what they mean when in dictation they are one thing but are another thing entirely when put into practice.

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JoakimC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Gender of "on"

In the Kaysersberg listening exercise, part of the transcript reads: FEMME: C'est comme quand on était petit Given that it is a woman speaking, shouldn't it be "petite" or does 'on' somehow default to masculine even when a woman uses it about herself?
Asked 2 years ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Joakim,

'On' cannot replace just one person.  If this person was talking she would say: 

Quand j'étais petite...

So she is including others in 'Quand on était petits...'

MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
I think the c'est makes it masculine

Gender of "on"

In the Kaysersberg listening exercise, part of the transcript reads: FEMME: C'est comme quand on était petit Given that it is a woman speaking, shouldn't it be "petite" or does 'on' somehow default to masculine even when a woman uses it about herself?

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FennekeA2Kwiziq community member

Is on used more than nous

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Fenneke, Not necessarily. Nous is normal register, on is informal. Plus, on has other meanings than just "we."

Is on used more than nous

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FaridC1Kwiziq community member

Video above, On vs L'on

On the video, I feel the explanation for "on vs l'on" (minute 6:18) is not applicable. I don't believe this is an example of euphony, because there are occasions that we use qu'on (unlike va-t-il, a clear example of euphony, that is never without a "t"). So, I think in this phrase, the first "on" is indefinite, but in the second part, having a point of reference, it becomes definite. Am I correct on this?
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Farid ! On the question of "on" vs "l'on", there is absolutely no difference of meaning between the two. "L'on" is simply the more archaïc version of "on", as it first meant "L'Homme" (the Man) in a general sense, which eventually involved in simply "on". However, it has indeed become a question of euphony, as "l'on" is considered a more elegant form to use, especially in order to avoid harsh sounds such as "qu'on" ("que l'on" is more fluid). I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Video above, On vs L'on

On the video, I feel the explanation for "on vs l'on" (minute 6:18) is not applicable. I don't believe this is an example of euphony, because there are occasions that we use qu'on (unlike va-t-il, a clear example of euphony, that is never without a "t"). So, I think in this phrase, the first "on" is indefinite, but in the second part, having a point of reference, it becomes definite. Am I correct on this?

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