French Expression of the Day: À tte

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French Expression of the Day: À tte
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Don't worry, your French friend did not message you this jumble of letters accidentally.


Why do I need to know à tte?

Because you might be looking to decipher the meaning of these letters jumbled together after receiving a confusing text message. 

What does it mean?

À tte – is a French abbreviation, so if you were to read this aloud, the pronunciation probably would not make much sense. This is because à tte is only written, and it is part of a growing lexicon of French texting and internet slang. 

It stands for à toute (roughly pronounced ah toot), which is the shortened version of à tout à l'heure (roughly pronounced ah toot ah lurr).  


The expression means “see you soon” or “see you later,” and an English equivalent could be the texting phrase “C U l8r” (see you later). 

It can also be used to mean “recently,” “earlier” or “a short while ago,” depending on the context. If someone says that they did something, using the past tense, and then they add “à tout à l'heure” then that means they did it recently. For example, you could say: “j’ai appris ça à tout à l'heure,” which would mean “I learned that earlier.”

When it comes to gender, this phrase can be a bit tricky - both for native speakers and foreigners alike. Grammatically, “tout” should be in the masculine form, but in the phrase à tout à l'heure you pronounce the 't' at the end of tout because of the liaison, so it has over time come to be conjugated in the feminine form (toute) as well.

This is most often done when someone is writing the shortened version “à toute” because the objective is for the reader to remember to pronounce the T sound at the end - otherwise it could be confused with atout (ah-too), which is a different word altogether. Thus, the written abbreviation “à tte” was born, using the feminine “toute.” 

The other option for 'see you later' in a text is A+ which means à plus.

READ ALSO 15 of the most common French text abbreviations

Use it like this

Je monte dans le train maintenant. À tte. – I am getting on the train now. See you soon.

Je rentre à la maison et je vais faire des courses.

Ok, à tte 

I am on the way home and I will pick up groceries.

Okay, see you soon.


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bmwoy 2022/11/10 19:00
If you wanted this expression to mean "a short while ago" or "earlier" or "just now" you would leave out the first "à" - "Je l'ai vue tout à l'heure" - "I saw her just now" ; "J'ai appris ça tout à l'heure" (not "J'ai appris ça à tout à l'heure") - "I learned that earlier"

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