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When to use "on" and when to use "nous" in French...

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In English, "we" is always "we", and "one" is used formally in a general situation and "you" is used informally in a general situation. In French, it seems like "on" is used in family situations for "nous"? Is that correct? But the literal translation of "on" in English is "one"? I find myself saying "on va" when I am telling my children what we are going to do next rather than "nous allons" and I'm suddenly wondering why I do that, where I got it from, and if it is correct.


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"on" has four uses. Let's see if I can remember them ;-)


1. on - familiar 'nous'.

2. on - unknown person. "On a tué le chat!" This one NEVER includes the person who's speaking, unless he's a liar.

3. on - generic person. "Après le repas, on se sent bien". That would be the English 'one' as in "one feels great after eating".

4. argh, I knew I wouldn't remember them all. When I studied this in high school, I got all mixed up. #4 never made sense to me... It's a variation of #3.

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