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Very basic french translation

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    i've seen 2 different meanings of:
    je me lave
    tu te laves
    il/elle/on lave
    nous nous lavons
    vous vous lavez
    ils/elles lavent

    do they mean ....... wash myself .............get washed

    because on this website http://bit.ly/zdKwwm it says it's .........get washed, but i thought it was .........wash myself.

    also what's the difference between nous and on?

    thanks
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    Well, technically, since it's reflexive, it does mean "washing oneself", but it's the same thing as to be washed. It's hardly even a difference :-)

    Nous- formal "we"
    On- the form of "we" that most people use. But you can also use it as an impersonal pronoun- "On peut faire ça"- "It is possible to do that". I know a lot of teachers insist on saying it means "one", as in "one can do that", but it doesn't feel right.
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    You were right, it translates as 'I wash myself'. Also the il/elle/on version should have a 'se' in there.

    As for the difference between 'nous' and 'on'.. they're quite often interchangeable but 'on' is more general so you could use it in a sentence like 'en Angleterre on se lave'. It's like the old-fashioned 'one' (as in 'one does such-and-such') in English.


    Not the clearest of explanations but I hope that helps!
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    Think of it as 'wash oneself'. The simplest way to think of reflexive verbs is the verb + oneself/yourself/myself etc. Translating it any other way, unless it doesn't actually translate properly, just confuses people.

    And yeah the difference between 'nous' and 'on' is that 'nous' strictly means 'we', whereas 'on' can mean 'we', but it's also much more general. In English when we say 'What you can do is ... etc.', they say 'On pourrait ... etc.'. Essentially we say 'you' when referring to a general action that isn't really specific to anybody, whereas they use 'on'.
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    (Original post by chinaberry)
    Well, technically, since it's reflexive, it does mean "washing oneself", but it's the same thing as to be washed. It's hardly even a difference :-)

    Nous- formal "we"
    On- the form of "we" that most people use. But you can also use it as an impersonal pronoun- "On peut faire ça"- "It is possible to do that". I know a lot of teachers insist on saying it means "one", as in "one can do that", but it doesn't feel right.

    (Original post by ScarlettDangerfield)
    You were right, it translates as 'I wash myself'. Also the il/elle/on version should have a 'se' in there.

    As for the difference between 'nous' and 'on'.. they're quite often interchangeable but 'on' is more general so you could use it in a sentence like 'en Angleterre en se lave'. It's like the old-fashioned 'one' (as in 'one does such-and-such') in English.


    Not the clearest of explanations but I hope that helps!
    so how is on less formal but it also means one?

    thanks for your help
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    (Original post by Jed123)
    so how is on less formal but it also means one?

    thanks for your help
    Well, you should probably move away from the thinking that "one" is especially formal. It might be here in Britain but in France it's not. It's just impersonal, like I said, so if you use it it's just like saying "you can do that", with the "you" being impersonal like we use it here. You're not actually addressing someone a lot of the time when you use "you".
    I never think the grammar books do a good job of explaining "on", but now I have a stab at it, it's not going too well....it must be tricky to grasp!
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    (Original post by non)
    so how is on less formal but it also means one?

    thanks for your help
    The comment above is correct : the translation of a concept doesn't necessarily carry the same register of language.
    Nevertheless,
    "on" as "nous" is informal
    "on" as a generality (it stems from "l'homme", so you can see how it is supposed to be general) is formal.

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