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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Candice here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is When should I use the pronoun on?
On is a very useful personal pronoun. It is conjugated exactly the same as il ou elle, meaning “he” or “she”. And it means either “one” or “we.”
On is a special pronoun, because sometimes it refers to no one in particular. In English, we might translate it as the general “one.” For example, À Paris, on peut voir les anciennes maisons d’écrivains célèbres means “In Paris, one can see the former homes of famous writers.” Because on is used in an indeterminate way, it’s very important in making the passive voice. For example, On m’a dit de partir meaning “I was told to leave.” Or On a trouvé un portefeuille meaning “A wallet was found.”
But more commonly, on is used to mean “we.” It’s actually less formal than using nous. And it connotes that on is a group, or une bande in French, so it’s more friendly and familiar. Because it’s conjugated like il ou elle, it’s also easier to conjugate than nous. For example, On est allé au cinema et on a vu la nouvelle comédie means “We went to the movies and saw the new comedy.”
On is used all the time by native speakers and it’s easier to conjugate. So if you use on, you’ll sound more fluent and have less to conjugate!
Pretty neat, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
A bientôt, see you soon!

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