Même can mean "same", "itself", "very", "exact" and "precise" as an adjective, and "even" as an adverb

The word même is extremely common and versatile in French, with many meanings depending on its position and/or context. The best way to understand it is to see it in action.

Même as an adjective = same / itself / very - exact / precise

c'est la même personne
it's the same person

ce sont les mêmes plantes
they're the same plants

c'est la perfection même 
it's perfection itself

au moment même où je m'endormais...
at the very moment I was falling asleep...

Note that when même is used as an adjective, it agrees in numbermême(s). Its meaning can vary from same / itself / very to exact / precise.

 

Même as an adverb = even

même ma mère est allée ... 
even my mother went ...

Il avait même cuisiné! 
He had even cooked!

Mes amis avaient même invité mes parents !
My friends had even invited my parents!

 

Note that when même is used as an adverb, it never changes : mêmeIts meaning in this context is even.

 

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Mes amis avaient même invité mes parents !
My friends had even invited my parents!


even


Il avait même cuisiné! 
He had even cooked!


même ma mère est allée ... 
even my mother went ...


itself


c'est la perfection même 
it's perfection itself


same


en même temps 
at the same time


ce sont les mêmes plantes
they're the same plants


c'est la même chose
it's the same thing


c'est la même personne
it's the same person


very / exact / precise


au moment même où je m'endormais...
at the very moment I was falling asleep...


le jour même
that very day


Q&A Forum 4 questions, 9 answers

HopeA1Kwiziq community member

Placement of même

Why is it sometimes before the noun and sometimes after when used as an adjective? And I see some patterns in it's placement as an adverb but if you have any advice on that as well that would be great.

Asked 5 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Hope,

The adjective 'même', if placed before the noun means same/identical

Nous avons la même taille en vert = We have the same size in green

C'est toujours la même chose It's always the same thing

Placed after the noun, it means, itself, very, actual 

Il est la générosité même He is generosity itself (personified)

Ce sont ses paroles mêmes =These are his very/actual words

Not to be confused with the adverb même which means 'even'

Il a même osé me dire... = He even dared to tell me ...

Même s'il revient, je ne lui parlerai pas = Even if he comes back, I won't talk to him

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Do you have an example?

Placement of même

Why is it sometimes before the noun and sometimes after when used as an adjective? And I see some patterns in it's placement as an adverb but if you have any advice on that as well that would be great.

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PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

In a B1 quiz "Même les scientifiques ne peuvent prédire l'avenir". Why is it not "... ne peuvent PAS prédire ..." to say can NOT predict

Asked 10 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

There are two explanations I can think of:

1) it is very literary sometimes to use "ne" without "pas" in negations.2) it is a mistake and it should be there.

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thanks Chris. I know that in the “ne ... pas” construction for negation the “ne” is optional and is very rarely used in conversation, but I thought the “pas” was essential because without it you are entering into the treacherous “ne explétif” territory of C1 quizzes, where the ne has no meaning and is essentially the opposite of ne pas. On reflection I wondered if “même” with “ne” meant “not even”, but I can find nothing to back up this hypothesis. But if that was so, then the sentence could literally be translated as “not even scientists can predict the future” as opposed to “even pharmacists can not predict the future”. Or then again maybe your second hypothesis (it’s a mistake) might be the correct one! 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Here is some information on the so-called "ne litteraire": https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/ne-litteraire/

It does seem, however, that it is only used in very specific circumstances.

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thanks Chris. I have not come across this before, and it seems that pouvoir is one of the cases that the "ne litteraire" can be used, so it does appear they have gone literary with this particular quizz question. Thanks again for your explanation and the link.

In a B1 quiz "Même les scientifiques ne peuvent prédire l'avenir". Why is it not "... ne peuvent PAS prédire ..." to say can NOT predict

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Lia A2Kwiziq community member

I hear 'quand même' so often. What does it mean exactly? Thank you.

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour Lia !

Oh là là ! How long have you got?
The expression "quand même" has many different uses and meanings, depending on context, but its main meaning I would say is close to "still / anyway", as in:
"Still, you gave it back. / You gave it back anyway." (Tu l'as rendu quand même) or
"He bothered me. - Yes but still..." (Il m'a embêté. -Oui, mais quand même...).

You can also hear "quand bien même..." meaning "even if":
"Quand bien même il serait riche, je ne l'aimerais pas plus!"

I hope that answers your question :)

HabibaA1Kwiziq community member
Did you conditionnel because of the guards at the beginning?

I hear 'quand même' so often. What does it mean exactly? Thank you.

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WillB1Kwiziq community member

Hi, thanks for your site. I would love some more examples of how 'meme' is used.

Perhaps some youtube videos or something??
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Will, We don't currently have plans to make videos, but I'll let you know if that changes. In the meantime, just keep an ear out whenever you're listening to French - you'll hear même all the time. Bonne continuation !

Hi, thanks for your site. I would love some more examples of how 'meme' is used.

Perhaps some youtube videos or something??

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