How to use ‘alors’ like a French native speaker

Using this word can help boost your proficiency in the language and make you sound like a true Francophone

You will hear ‘alors’ used multiple times per day
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Anyone who has experience with the French language is likely to have heard the word alors, a perennial favourite amongst native speakers.

It is a word that you can drop into conversation in a variety of contexts, and you will hear it used dozens of times per day.

It acts as a filler or a connection word, can be used to express surprise or shock or even to change the direction of a conversation.

Once you know when and where to use it, you can employ in many conversations, and it will help you sound like a fluent speaker.

Alors as so

The most common use of alors is as a direct equivalent of ‘so’ in English.

With this meaning, it can come at the beginning, middle or the end of a sentence.

Alors, qu’est ce que tu fais de beau ?’ (So have you been up to anything interesting?)

J’étais fatigué alors finalement je ne suis pas sorti hier soir.’ (I was tired so in the end I did not go out last night.)

In the same vein, it can be used as a way of engaging someone in conversation.

For example, if someone new arrives in the group you can use alors to direct conversation towards them and include them.

Alors Céline, ça fait longtemps, comment tu vas ?’ (So Céline, it has been ages, how are you doing?)

Alors as well

Alors can be translated as well, in the filler form of the word.

A filler word is something speakers use to fill the gaps in a sentence. Common other filler words in English include ‘like’ and ‘you know’, and in French tu sais and genre.

Alors dis-moi qu’est-ce que t’en penses.’ (Well tell me what you think of it).

Alors là’ is also used like this and translates as ‘well!’ or ‘well then!’

Read also: 12 different ways to express anger and frustration in French

Et alors ? as so what?

Et alors gives the sense of ‘so what’, or ‘what does that change’. It can also be interpreted as ‘who cares?’

Il ne veut pas venir, et alors ?’ (He doesn’t want to come, so what?)

French R&B singer Shy’m released a song called ‘Et alors !’ that became a summer hit song in 2012.

Alors que as while, when or even though

Alors que is a conjunction that can mean ‘while’, ‘when’ or ‘even though’.

It is followed by the indicative.

Le livreur est arrivé alors que nous étions à table.’ (The delivery person arrived while we were at the table.)

Elle a reçu des bonnes notes alors qu’elle n’a pas du tout révisé.' (She received good marks even though she hadn’t revised at all.)

Ça alors being used to express shock

Ça alors is used to express shock, similar to how we might say ‘goodness me’ or ‘good God’ in English.

Meanwhile, ‘merde alors’ can be used to express exasperation, in the same way in English you may say for ‘goodness sake!’.

Remember that merde is a swear word, however, so it might be best to not use this expression around younger children.

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