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Complete post:

Apr

23

2013

Alors, tu viens?

Are you coming, then?

One of our listeners emailed us this morning about the adverb alors.

It's a word we meet frequently in French. Alors has different meanings, depending on the context. Consider the examples below.

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alors = à le moment-là (at that time (in the past or in the future))

  • Ma soeur Caroline finira ses études de droit dans 2 ans. Elle aura alors vingt-deux ans.
    = My sister Caroline will finish her law studies in two years' time. She will then be 22 years old.
  • Il travaillait alors au ministère de la Santé.
    = He was working in the Ministry of Health at that time.
  • J'avais alors quinze ans.
    = I was fifteen years old at that time.

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alors = donc (so, therefore, then)

  • Cela me contrarie, alors n'en parlons plus!
    = That upsets me. So let's not talk about it any more!
  • Il y avait la queue pour avoir un taxi. Alors je suis rentré à pied.
    = There was a queue for taxis so I went home on foot.

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alors to express interrogation, surprise, indignation, etc

  • Alors là, je ne sais plus quoi te dire!
    = Well then, I don't know what to say to you!
  • Alors, que vas-tu lui dire?
    = So, what are you going to say to him/her?

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Note also the expression alors que (= while)

  • Il a commencé à pleuvoir alors que nous étions encore loin de la maison.
    = It started to rain while we were still a long way from home.
  • Installe-toi confortablement alors que je prépare le repas.
    = Make yourself comfortable while I prepare the dinner.

Comment(s)/question from napoleaon on May, 02 at 20:32

Very helpful. This is the sort of thing that makes learning a language very difficult. I believe alors can also mean 'in fact'.

Comment(s)/question from equipe_lfbp on May, 03 at 08:09

Hmm... 'in fact' would be en fait. I can't think of a situation where alors has that meaning.

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