Difference between NOUS and ON

Difference between NOUS and ON

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Added by March 25, 2016


How to use French pronouns “on” & “nous”

Not many French learners know the actual difference between French personal pronouns NOUS and ON. To sum it up, NOUS is used in more formal contexts than ON. When we speak, we, Frenchies, mostly use ON. If you’d like to know all about it, check out this video…





I got news for you! The French you learn is not always the French we speak in France. But you probably know that already…

Still, a lot of foreigners tend to speak using the pronoun ‘NOUS’ to translate the English ‘WE’. So, you may want to start using ‘ON’. Look at these little clip and I think you’ll quickly understand the difference between ‘nous’ and ‘on’.

Soso: On sort ce soir? / Lili: “Nous sortons ce soir”

Soso: Qu’est-ce qu’on fait maintenant? / Lili: “Que faisons-nous maintenant?”

Soso: On mange quoi? / Lili: “Nous mangeons quoi?

Soso: On reste à la maison, on est mieux ici. / Lili: Nous restons à la maison, nous sommes mieux ici.

You get the picture? Yes, ‘NOUS’ is much more formal than ‘ON’, even a little bit uptight as you can see. Now that you know, you choose the pronoun you want to use. I’d say: ON is on.

Lili: Oh la la, le jeu de mots Soso…

Yeah, couldn’t help a little silly pun…

Going back to where I was, actually, if you’re writing a formal letter, ‘NOUS’ ought to be on…

Here is an example of the end of a letter…

Lili: “Nous vous remercions pour votre hospitalité et vous prions d’agréer nos sincères salutations”…

Voilà, vous savez tout maintenant!

À bientot francophiles chéris!

Lili: A la revoyure les amis!

Soso: Lili, tu peux arrêter d’être snob maintenant, on a fini.

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