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


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


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


en même temps 
at the same time


ce sont les mêmes plantes
they're the same plants


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 3 questions, 7 answers

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 5 months ago

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.

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! 

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.

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

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star

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 :)

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

Perhaps some youtube videos or something??
Asked 5 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
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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Let me take a look at that...