Why have we chosen this word?
This is one of those French words that's difficult to translate and yet you'll hear it peppered throughout conversation when you're in France.
In fact, if you're listening in on a chat between two French people, sometimes it sounds as if “du coup” features in almost every other sentence.
You'll also see it used sometimes in headlines (see below).
So, what does it mean?
This French term literally means “of the blow” but in conversation it is used to mean “so that means”, “consequently”, “as a result”, “so” and “and so”.
And it is (very) frequently used as a vague filler phrase which pops in conversation similarly to how “like” peppers the speech of an American teenager.
French language blogger Marc Olivier said, “Chances are, if you take 'du coup' out of an average conversation, you won't lose anything.”
It can bewilder French learners who don't understand how to use it or when it's appropriate but as it's so popular with native speakers, if you start using it regularly you'll start to sound like a local.
Of course, that's if you can say it correctly. As many French people have pointed out, anglophones can have trouble with the “ou” sound in “du coup”. and you don't pronounce the 'p' of course.
There are some who trace the origin of “du coup” from “tout d'un coup”, meaning “suddenly”.
According to some sources, it was used by the French working class before World War II before disappearing and later reappearing in the early 2000s.
Some French linguists have described the spread of the word as “a virus” in the language.
An example from the headline above.
Les robots toujours presents dans notre travail: mais du coup, quels seront les metiers et competences du futur?
Robots are becoming increasingly present in the workplace: so, what will be the trades and skills of the future?
And some more examples:
1. J'ai eu un problème avec ma voiture ce matin et du coup, je suis arrivé en retard au boulot.
I had a problem with my car this morning, so that meant I arrived at work late.
2. Alors du coup, Jacques est allé acheter une baguette.
So, Jacques went to buy a baguette.
en conséquence – consequently, hence
donc – therefore, so
de ce fait – because of this, consequently