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on s'en va

hi i asked my grandma how to say 'we are going' in french

she said it was said - 'on s'en va'

i dont understand how it works. can someone explain how the grammer works like as i cant work out how it means we are going.

i thought you can do 'je vais aller' in we form - like 'nous avons aller' - does that make sense in french?

can someone explain, thanks.
Original post by Revenged
hi i asked my grandma how to say 'we are going' in french

she said it was said - 'on s'en va'

i dont understand how it works. can someone explain how the grammer works like as i cant work out how it means we are going.

i thought you can do 'je vais aller' in we form - like 'nous avons aller' - does that make sense in french?

can someone explain, thanks.


On s'en va comes from the idiomatic expression: s'en aller in the infinitive, which means "to go away". You may know that the French often use on instead of nous in oral French. So on s'en va, literally translated, means "we are going away"; "we're off now" - that sort of thing.

If you want to use the structure aller + infinitive for "we are going" in the nous form, you end up with the rather clumsy nous allons aller. This is grammically perfectly correct but it is not really ever used - just say it out loud and you'll see why: it's simply not very nice to say. (Your example of nous avons aller is incorrect as avons comes from the verb avoir, not aller).

If you need a future and you have to use a nous rather than an on (for example, in more formal French) you should use the future tense: nous irons. If you are being informal you can use on with the aller + infinitive structure: on va aller.

The difference between on s'en va and on va aller is one of meaning:
on s'en va = we're off; we're going away
on va aller à = we're going to go to + wherever it is you're going to go to.

Hope that clears it up for you!
I think you are trying to translate - we are going - word for word.

You need to know the different tenses in English and French.

I go and I am going are both the same Present tense in French ie. je vais ( There is no equivalent of the present continuous tense 'I am going' in French.

So, we are going in English is nous allons in French - just the present tense of aller - to go.

Je vais aller ( that you suggest ) = I am going to go. in the nous form, nous allons aller = we are going to go.

Have you got a reference book with verb tables and their English translations ? We used to reckon that learning the irregular verbs in French was absolutely crucial. You need to know off by heart the 3 regular French verb types ie donner = to give ( the verbs ending in er,) finir =to finish ( verbs ending in ir ) vendre = to sell ( verbs ending in re.

Unfortunately nearly all the verbs you need to use most often don't follow the pattern any of these 3 ; they are irregular and do their own thing. Historically they are the remains of several different verbs with similar meanings, bits of which have been lost over the years and bits of which have survived eg the one which caused you a problem,

Aller=to go ( the infinitive)

je vais = I am going, I go
tu vas =you are going, you go
Il/elle va = he/she is going, he/she goes
Nous allons= we are going, we go
vous allez=you are going , you go ( more than one person or the polite form"
ils/ elles vont = they (Masculine or feminine) are going, they go ( if a mixture of masculine and feminine you use the masculine one)

You can see that there are at least 2 different verbs originally here - one beginning with v and one beginning with a.
Which tenses are you supposed to know? There is just no alternative but to repeat the French and the English meaning, 30 times so that you'll know it - so je vais = I go, I am going, tu vas = you go, you are going etc. for all the verbs you need to know - fascinating isn't it?
Reply 3
thanks.

why does "nous allons" make "on va" ?

why does "nous allons" not make "on allons" ?
Original post by Revenged
thanks.

why does "nous allons" make "on va" ?

why does "nous allons" not make "on allons" ?


This is because verbs in the "on" form are conjugated the same as il and elle.

Verbs are conjugated according to two criteria: person and number.

1st person singular: je
2nd person singular: tu
3rd person singular: il, elle, on

1st person plural: nous
2nd person plural: vous
3rd person plural: ils, elles

On can be used in a number of ways:

- to make statements of general truth or about everyone, eg: On boit beaucoup de thé en Angleterre; On oublie vite!
- to make statements about someone (or people) whose identity is not clear, eg: On frappe à la porte.
- to replace nous in informal French, eg: On part en vacances demain.

Note that it is always conjugated the same way, whatever the meaning.
NO!
To say "we're going"/"let's go" in French it is ON Y VA or "Allons y"
Like you said "je vais aller" = i'm going to go... but where? You would say "J'y vais aller", provided you have already expressed where you are going i.e what the pronoun "y" represents

"Y" is a pronoun to replace the preposition à - The verb aller is used with the preposition à e.g. aller a la gare. Therefore à becomes "y" as a pronoun.

"en" on the other hand, replaces the preposition "de", so it cannot be used in this manner. You would use it "J'ai beaucoup de mouchoirs" becomes "j'en ai beaucoup".
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Reply 6
Original post by pseudonymegg
NO!
To say "we're going"/"let's go" in French it is ON Y VA or "Allons y"
Like you said "je vais aller" = i'm going to go... but where? You would say "J'y vais aller", provided you have already expressed where you are going i.e what the pronoun "y" represents

"Y" is a pronoun to replace the preposition à - The verb aller is used with the preposition à e.g. aller a la gare. Therefore à becomes "y" as a pronoun.

"en" on the other hand, replaces the preposition "de", so it cannot be used in this manner. You would use it "J'ai beaucoup de mouchoirs" becomes "j'en ai beaucoup".
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"J'y vais aller" is wrong, we say: "J'y vais" (I'm going there) or "Je vais y aller" (I will go there). "Je vais me rendre à la gare à vélo" : "Je vais m'y rendre à vélo".
Saying "on s'en va" is commonly used in Quebec, where French grammar goes to die ( "C'est chez moi en plus!" ).
Original post by pseudonymegg
NO!
To say "we're going"/"let's go" in French it is ON Y VA or "Allons y"
Like you said "je vais aller" = i'm going to go... but where? You would say "J'y vais aller", provided you have already expressed where you are going i.e what the pronoun "y" represents

"Y" is a pronoun to replace the preposition à - The verb aller is used with the preposition à e.g. aller a la gare. Therefore à becomes "y" as a pronoun.

"en" on the other hand, replaces the preposition "de", so it cannot be used in this manner. You would use it "J'ai beaucoup de mouchoirs" becomes "j'en ai beaucoup".
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Original post by MartyO
"J'y vais aller" is wrong, we say: "J'y vais" (I'm going there) or "Je vais y aller" (I will go there). "Je vais me rendre à la gare à vélo" : "Je vais m'y rendre à vélo".
Saying "on s'en va" is commonly used in Quebec, where French grammar goes to die ( "C'est chez moi en plus!" ).


You are both confusing two similar, but different structures:

aller à = to go to. Therefore: on y va - we're going there / let's go.
s'en aller = to go away. This reflexive use of aller is an idiomatic expression, where en is not used in its usual way of replacing de + noun. On s'en va is also used in France, meaning "we're leaving / we're going away". It is perfectly correct and not considered as a symptom of impending grammar death!
Reply 8
ok sounds very very complicated, i don't really understand it :frown:

they do say on s'en va in french, my grandma is fluent and not canadian.

i was listening this week, they use 'on' all the time in conversation, never 'nous', so thanks for that as i didn't know they were the same.

but otherwise it was over my head. dommage :P
OK, folks, thanks for the answers, it was interesting to read. And yet none of you have explained neither 'se' nor 'en'.

I don't blame you, as it's even beyond the dictionaries I looked into.

If I understand it right, "on s'en va" is a generalization of: "on se va de object", and so "en" is a pronoun for the object.

Two questions arise:

-----

1) What is that object precisely?

Is it the current place, the source of the movement or it's more a situation from where we're going away?

And there is another way to express a similar thing: "on'y va" which is a generalization of: "on va à object".

Here, object" means a destination object, and "y" is a pronoun for that object (place).

Do you natives reckon these two - just the same, i.e. "on s'en va" and "on'y va"?

(I personally think they're different as "on'y va" suggests that we're moving to some known location.)

2) Why "se aller" is used here?

And is it the only case when "aller" is used as a reflexive verb?

-----

Can't we just say: "on va?"
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by OnkelTem
OK, folks, thanks for the answers, it was interesting to read. And yet none of you have explained neither 'se' nor 'en'.

I don't blame you, as it's even beyond the dictionaries I looked into.

If I understand it right, "on s'en va" is a generalization of: "on se va de object", and so "en" is a pronoun for the object.

Two questions arise:

-----

1) What is that object precisely?

Is it the current place, the source of the movement or it's more a situation from where we're going away?

And there is another way to express a similar thing: "on'y va" which is a generalization of: "on va à object".

Here, object" means a destination object, and "y" is a pronoun for that object (place).

Do you natives reckon these two - just the same, i.e. "on s'en va" and "on'y va"?

(I personally think they're different as "on'y va" suggests that we're moving to some known location.)

2) Why "se aller" is used here?

And is it the only case when "aller" is used as a reflexive verb?

-----

Can't we just say: "on va?"

This thread’s 5 years old.
Original post by Son of the Sea
This thread’s 5 years old.

I take it French has changed for this 5 years so much that it doesn't have "on s'en va" anymore?
Or I should have created a clone of this topic and start over?
That's how forums work you think?
Original post by OnkelTem
I take it French has changed for this 5 years so much that it doesn't have "on s'en va" anymore?
Or I should have created a clone of this topic and start over?
That's how forums work you think?

It’s against the rules of this website to bump old threads, so yes, you should have created a clone topic and started again. Lmao at you trying to be a smart arse about it and it backfiring 😂
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by Son of the Sea
It’s against the rules of this website to bump old threads, so yes, you should have created a clone topic and started again.

If it was, I would have been prohibited to post.

Do you realize how people get here? They come from Google.

WEB is global, nobody cares about some particular forum. This page is the first one in the Google's SERP. And thanks to this engine, thanks precisely to "bumping up" mechanism, people can continue the discussion: more questions, more answers, making this page more comprehensive and this forum more popular.
Original post by OnkelTem
If it was, I would have been prohibited to post.

Do you realize how people get here? They come from Google.

WEB is global, nobody cares about some particular forum. This page is the first one in the Google's SERP. And thanks to this engine, thanks precisely to "bumping up" mechanism, people can continue the discussion: more questions, more answers, making this page more comprehensive and this forum more popular.

Wrong. There’s no function on here that automatically closes a thread after a certain number of years so people can find old threads and bump them. It is against the rules to resurrect old threads that have been inactive for years, feel free to ask any of the mods this and they’ll confirm it.

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