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“Où est-ce que l’on récupère les bagages?…”

“Where do they collect the luggage?…”

A listener asked us about a sentence from Lesson #4…

From: Michael

I have a question about a sentence from lesson #4:

— il a cherché où est-ce que l’on récupère les bagages

I understand what it is saying, but I don’t quite understand the function of the “l’” in the sentence! What word does that represent and what is its function?


It is a good question… and here is a quick explanation:

Une consonne euphonique …

In fact, this l’… has no meaning in this sentence at all. However, this l’… occurs frequently in French, especially before the pronoun “on” and the indefinite articles “un” and “une”, and is sometimes called une consonne euphonique, that is, a consonant which makes the sentence more ‘euphonic7rsquo; or pleasing to the ear.

Consider additional examples, below:

  • L’un des peuples d’Amazonie, les Awas, est sur le point de dispraître. = One of the peoples of the Amazonian rainforest, the Awas, is on the verge of extinction.
  • J’aimerais bien que l’on accueille ces migrants. = I would like it if we were to welcome these migrants.
  • Les débats sont vifs et l’on est encore loin d’un accord. = The debates are lively and they are still far from an agreement.
  • C’est alors que l’on m’a demandé de travailler sur […] = It is then that they asked me to work on […]
  • Oui, c’est ce que l’on m’a dit. = Yes, that is what they said to me.
  • C’est l’un des aspects dramatiques de la situation. = It is one of the dramatic aspects of the situation.
  • Il reste l’un des pays les plus riches en ressources naturelles au monde. = It is one of the countries most rich in natural resources in the world.
  • Il est l’une des stars du cinéma américain. = He is one of the stars of American cinema.

Finally, note another very common use of une consonne euphonique in the interrogative form:

  • A-t-il de l’argent?Does he have money?
  • Pourquoi lui a-t-on donné ce surnom?Why did they give him this nickname?


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