The word “tout” (and its derived forms tous, toute, toutes) has various meanings such as all, every, (the) entire, (the) whole etc …
It has different spelling according to the gender or number of the word it describes or replaces.
It can have different functions in a sentence: It can either be an adjective, a pronoun, an adverb or a noun. I know, it sounds a bit complicated but read the examples below and you will understand…
But what you really want to know is when you DO or DON’T pronounce the “s” in “Tous”, don’t you?
I have had so many students asking me the same question about “tous” (all) …Well, I’m sorry to say that the difference in pronunciation is really purely grammatical. This is also why it is so important to understand grammar!
“Tous” (with s) is the plural form and can either be an adjective or a pronoun . That’s why in this article we are only going to see it as a pronoun and an adjective .
1. Tout, toute, tous, toutes as an adjective
Adjectives are describing words which means that they usually give more information about a noun.
They also need to agree with the noun they describe so they have the same gender and number as the noun they describe.
- Les enfants (masc.plur)→ Tous les enfants (all the children)
- Les filles (fem.plur) →Toutes les filles (all the girls)
- Le monde (masc.sing) → Tout le monde (all the world= everybody)
- La vie(fem.sing) →Toute la vie (all the life= all life/entire life/the whole life)
Note: How should you pronounce “TOUS” here ?
Used as an adjective, « tous » is pronounced « too » (without pronouncing the final “s”)
2. Tout, toute, toutes, tous as a pronoun
Pronouns replace someone or something.
- Bonjour à tous = Hello to all
- On va tous en vacances = We all go on holidays
How to pronounce it?
Used as a pronoun, « tous » is pronounced « tooss », with pronouncing the final “s” sound.
In summary, you only pronounce the “s” when “tous” is a pronoun so when it replaces someone or something.
If you want to get more explanation about when to pronounce a consonant at the end of a word, check my eBooks on French pronunciation here !
You’ll learn many things on French letters & sounds!