French word of the week: tout

Another week, another French word to study. Today we’re going to look at the word tout.

You can find an audio clip below to help you learn its pronunciation:

As you’ll encounter tout most commonly as an adjective, you’ll see it written in slightly different forms depending on its adjectival agreement. Its feminine form is toute. You’ll also see its two plural forms – tous and toutes.

As is often the case with our words of the week, there can be some tricky points to bear in mind. In the case of tout, it’s remembering that the word can also be an adverb, a masculine noun or an indefinite pronoun, as well as an adjective. Luckily, the meaning doesn’t change too much in each case.

tout all; every; everything; very

By way of illustration, we’ll look at examples of tout in all its forms.

As an adjective:

Tous mes amis viennent chez moi demain soir. All of my friends are coming over to visit tomorrow night.

Nous jouons au foot tous les mardis. We play football every Tuesday.

As a pronoun:

Je ferai tout ce que je peux pour vous aider. I’ll do everything I can to help you.

N’y pensez pas trop – tout peut arriver. Don’t think about it too much – anything could happen.

As an adverb:

Leur chaton est trop mignon, il est tout petit. Their kitten is so cute, he’s very small.

Depuis qu’elle est partie, je suis toute seule. Since she left, I’m all alone.

As a noun:

Je prends le tout. I’ll take it all; I’ll take the whole lot.

une pièce d’un ensemble qui compose un tout a part of a set that forms a whole

In everyday French, there are numerous expressions involving this word which you’re likely to hear a lot. It might help to familiarise yourself with these:

pas du tout not at all

tous les jours every day

toute de suite right away

tout à fait absolutely

tout le monde everybody

tout de même all the same

tous les deux both

à tout moment all the time; at any time

tout à l’heure just now; in a moment

À tout à l’heure ! See you later!; See you soon!

A lot of people shorten this final phrase to simply say:

À tout ! Later!

Let’s pause here to look at tout à l’heure in more detail, as it can be a tricky one. The exact same expression can be used to talk both about the past and the future. You might say:

J’ai parlé avec Élodie tout à l’heure. I spoke with Elodie just nowas in, you’ve just done it.

Je parlerai avec Élodie tout à l’heure. I’ll speak with Elodie in just a momentas in, you’re about to do it.

The important thing here is considering the grammatical context. This will help you work out the correct translation. In these examples, the verb parler is conjugated in the perfect tense in the first example, then in the future tense for the second.

We hope this blog has given you some more to think about while learning French. All that’s left to say is à tout!

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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