French word of the week: côté

Welcome back to our weekly French blog. We’ve got an interesting word in store for you today, it’s the noun côté. To hear how it’s pronounced in French, listen to the audio clip below:

To start things off fairly simply, the main translation of this word is side. But before we look at examples of it in use, you might like a little extra information.

It’s easy to mix up the word côté with other words of the same four letters – we really need to pay attention to the accents on the letters. These are all the possible combinations and their different meanings:

  • côté is a masculine noun meaning side
  • côte is a feminine noun meaning rib, slope, coast (you might also see this with an initial capital, like la Côte d’Ivoire or la Côte d’Azur)
  • coté is an adjective meaning sought after, rated highly
  • cote is a feminine noun meaning value, odds

In our blog, we’re only concerned with the first item in the list, which has two accented vowels, côté. But it’s important to note the different spellings, pronunciations and meanings – it might save you some confusion in the future!

Now, let’s get back to understanding côté. Firstly, as a masculine noun:

Ma chambre se trouve du côté gauche. My bedroom is on the left-hand side.

Un pentagone a cinq côtés. A pentagon has five sides.

Nous nous rejoindrons à l’autre côté de la rue. We’ll meet on the other side of the street.

Elle ne voit jamais les mauvais côtés d’une situation. She never sees the bad sides of a situation.

d’un côté … de l’autre côtéon one hand… on the other…

chacun de son côté individually; on one’s own

de mon côté for my part; as for me

It also appears in some expressions which are prepositions with more than one word. We call some of these ‘prepositions of place’, which just means prepositions which refer to the physical location of something or someone:

à côté de (quelque chose / quelqu’un) next to or close to or alongside (something/someone)

Votre bureau est à côté de chez moi. Your office is next to my house.

Les magasins sont à côté de la mairie. The shops are next to the town hall.

There is one more, fairly informal usage to note, which is much more common in spoken French. It’s used in the same way we might use a phrase like in terms of or a combining form like -wise in English when indicating a particular topic that we want to talk about:

côté argent in terms of money; moneywise

côté travail when it comes to work; employment-wise

Côté cœur, tout va bien avec toi ? As far as your love life is concerned, is everything going well?

We hope that you’ve managed to take away some useful information. As you’ve learnt from today’s blog, there are lots of different sides to the word côté. See you next week.

Written by Holly Tarbet, freelance copywriter and editor.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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