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Complete post:

Jun

24

2013

‘… ces tout derniers jours’

‘… these last few days’

One of our subscribers asked us about the expression above which appeared in Lesson 157 (‘Dites-moi ce qui ne vas pas’). Our subscriber’s question was: ‘Why is it tout and not tous?’

The original context of the expression was as follows: (Apologies… the dialogue was between a doctor and patient!)

  • Je ne suis pas allé à la selle ces tout derniers jours.
    I haven’t had a bowel movement these last few days.

So, why does tout not agree with jours (days)?

The answer is because tout is an adverb in this context, not an adjective. It serves a similar purpose to très in this situation:

  • ces tout derniers jours = these very last few days

We must remember that tout can be (a) an adverb, (b) an adjective, or (c) a pronoun, depending on the context. Consider the following:

  • tout, comme adjectif:
    • Tu dois finir tout le travail avant demain après-midi.
      You must finish all the work before tomorrow afternoon.
    • Le vent a soufflé toute la nuit.
      The wind was blowing all night.
    • D'où viennent tous ces produits?
      Where do all these products come from?
    • Il roulait à toute vitesse.
      He was driving at full speed.
    • Je vais jeter tous ces papiers, d'accord?
      I’m going to throw out all these papers, ok?
  • tout comme pronom:
    • Nous devons tous faires des efforts pour…
      We must all make an effort to…
    • Leurs enfants ont tous fait des études de médecine.
      Their children all did medecine.
  • tout comme adverbe:
    • Les enfants jouent tout seuls.
      The children are playing on their own in the garden. (Literally, ‘completely alone’.)
    • Veux-tu du gâteau? Oui, un tout petit peu.
      Would you like some cake? Yes, just a (very) little.
  • tout comme adverbe, devant un adjectif féminin commençant par une voyelle:
    • Note! Before feminine adjectives that start with a consonant, the adverb tout does agree with the adjective:
      • Elle habite une toute petite maison.
        She lives in a really tiny house.
      • Lave-toi les mains… Elles sont toutes sales!
        Wash your hands… they’re all dirty!

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