Whatever your level is in French, I bet you will learn something in this article!
What’s the difference between tout / tous / toute / toutes? How and when to use them ? How to know when to pronounce the “s” at the end of “tous” in French ? – This last question comes from one of my listeners of French Your Way podcast. I have featured it in episode 14. Click here to listen to the episode.
“Tout” (meaning “all” in English or sometimes “all of”, “the whole”, “the entire”, “every” etc. – you get the idea) has different spellings, such as:
There’s nothing complicated or out of the ordinary here. Please note however that the plural form of “tout” is “tous” (and not “touts” as I sometimes read in essays from students).
The word “tout” (and its derived forms tous, toute, toutes) can either be:
- An adjective
- A pronoun
- An adverb
- A noun
The type of word will mainly be relevant for you to know to how pronounce “tous” (see later in this article).
If you need a dummy crash course to understand these notions, you may want to check my article “What Type of Word is this?” Otherwise, I’ll do my best to be as clear as possible with my explanations. 😉
As an adjective
Adjectives give more information about a noun.
They need to agree with the noun they describe. (i.e have the same gender and number)
- Les jours (masc.plur)→ Tous les jours
The days → everyday (literally : « all the days »)
- Mes devoirs (masc.plur.)→ Tous mes devoirs
My homework → All my homework
- Sa vie (fem.sing.) → Toute sa vie
His/Her life → all his/her life
- Les filles (fem.plur) → Toutes les filles
The girls → all the girls
Used as an adjective, « tous » is pronounced « too » (i.e without pronouncing the final “s”). It is written [tu] in the international phonetic alphabet transcription
As a pronoun
Pronouns replace someone / something.
- Bonjour à tous !
Hi everyone !
= all of you, you all
- Nous irons en vacances tous ensemble.
We’ll go on holidays all together.
= all of us : myself and other people.
- Mes chaussettes: elles sont toutes trouées!
My socks : they all have holes !
= all of them, all of my socks.
Used as a pronoun, « tous » is pronounced « tooss » ([tus]), with the final “s” sound.
You can already test yourself with the first exercise of the free worksheet I’ve designed for you ! 🙂
As an adverb
Adverbs give more information about an adjective, a verb or another adverb.
- Il est seul (adj) → il est tout seul.
He is alone. → He is all alone.
- Le bébé est petit. (adj) → Le bébé est tout petit.
The baby is small. → The baby is very small.
- Nous avons déménagé récemment (adv) → Nous avons déménagé tout récemment.
We moved house recently. We moved house very/just recently.
Adverbs are invariable (i.e their form doesn’t change ; there are no feminine or plural forms).
- Il est étonné. → Il est tout étonné.
He is surprised. → He is very/all surprised.
- Elle est étonnée. → Elle est tout étonnée.
She is surprised. → She is very/all surprised.
- Ils sont étonnés. → Ils sont tout étonnés.
They are surprised. → They are very/all surprised.
Exception: The adverb “tout” breaks the rules and exceptionally agrees with the adjective WHEN the adjective is feminine (singular or plural) AND starts with a consonant or a French aspirate “H”! (I know, it’s tough!)
- Elle est petite (feminine adjective starting with a consonant) → Elle est toute petite.
She is small. → She is very/all small.
- Tes dents sont blanches (feminine adjective starting with a consonant) → Tes dents sont toutes blanches.
Your teeth are white. → Your teeth are very white.
As a noun
« Le tout » means « the whole / the lot / the whole lot / the full package. » It’s a masculine singular noun.
- Combien coûte le tout ?
How much does the lot cost ?
How to pronounce “tous” ? (Summary and Note)
|Type of word||Pronunciation|
Note about TTS (text to Speech) softwares
The student at the origin of this question about the pronunciation of “tous” said that his International Phonetic Alphabet converter doesn’t pronounce the final “s” whereas the Google Text to Speech program does – which added to his confusion.
I would simply answer that softwares have their limitations! They can’t get all the subtleties of a language (at least not yet).
This is also the reason why I don’t recommend using translation softwares, because only a human brain can make the relevant choice when a dictionary entry offers several possible translations (see my article on how to use your French dictionary efficiently. It also comes with a worksheet.)