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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 est gentils.
We're nice.


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



Nous sommes 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

Maloyendra

Kwiziq community member

4 May 2018

1 reply

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

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

7 May 2018

7/05/18

Hi - I just checked and this seems fine. Is this still happening for you?

H

Kwiziq community member

3 April 2018

2 replies

"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.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

3 April 2018

3/04/18

"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).

H

Kwiziq community member

3 April 2018

3/04/18

Thank you, that's very helpful.

Judy

Kwiziq community member

17 March 2018

3 replies

Are we going out?

Judy

Kwiziq community member

17 March 2018

17/03/18

It was a wrong answer when I used "allons-nous sort?" for this kwiz question. Why is it wrong?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

17 March 2018

17/03/18

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). 

Judy

Kwiziq community member

19 March 2018

19/03/18

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!

Lewis

Kwiziq community member

31 October 2017

1 reply

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?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

31 October 2017

31/10/17

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://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/subject-pronouns-nous-versus-on


 


I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Truc Thanh

Kwiziq community member

22 October 2017

2 replies

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.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

22 October 2017

22/10/17

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 )


Chris

Kwiziq community member

23 October 2017

23/10/17

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).

amanda

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

2 replies

haha

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

Ron

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

17/10/17

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

19 October 2017

19/10/17

Si, c'est possible. Je peux le confirmer. -- Chris.

Alican

Kwiziq community member

14 October 2017

1 reply

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

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

14 October 2017

14/10/17

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.

dave

Kwiziq community member

23 September 2017

2 replies

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

Ron

Kwiziq community member

23 September 2017

23/09/17

Bonsoir Dave,
I would suggest to try reloading the page. When I pulled up the lesson it is showing 1 of 2 questions.

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

23 September 2017

23/09/17

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

johnnie

Kwiziq community member

15 July 2017

1 reply

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 ?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

17 July 2017

17/07/17

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://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/using-le-la-les-with-body-parts-and-clothing-definite-articles

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

gerbera

Kwiziq community member

15 May 2017

3 replies

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.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

15 May 2017

15/05/17

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 !

Nigel

Kwiziq community member

16 January 2018

16/01/18

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"?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 January 2018

18/01/18

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 !

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