French Expression of the Day: tout à fait

French Expression of the Day: tout à fait
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Tout à fait is hard to get away from, it is ubiquitous in French conversation and will demonstrate that you can deliver an authentic Gallic shrug with the best of them.

Why do I need to know tout à fait?

Tout à fait is hard to get away from, it is ubiquitous in French conversation and will demonstrate that you can deliver an authentic Gallic shrug with the best of them.

What does it mean?

Tout à fait  literally means 'everything to be done'.

But it is used to say 'I agree',‘absolutely’, ‘exactly’ and ‘utterly’, and also ‘quite’. It can be used in three ways: as a reply to an affirmative question, as an interjection to express enthusiastic agreement and also for emphasis.

There are alternatives – such as absolutement, pleinement, complètement, entièrement, totalement, parfaitement, exactement – but tout à fait manages to mean a little bit more, it adds a certain je ne sais quoi.

How is it pronounced?

You do pronounce the second ‘t’ in tout as it is followed by a vowel, but do not pronounce the final ‘t’. Phonetically, this phrase sounds like ‘too-tah-fay’.

Examples:

Tu es d'accord? Tout à fait. We are on the same page? Yes, I agree.

J'avais tout à fait oublié. I had completely forgotten.

Le livre était tout à fait incompréhensible. The book was utterly incomprehensible.

Ce n'est pas tout à fait pariel. It's not quite the same.

Il est tout à fait d'accord. He is in complete agreement.

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