À la fois

Essential French expression

Man juggling in front of the Eiffel Tower in 1948

Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

Expression: À la fois
Pronunciation: [ah lah fwah]
Meaning: at the same time, at once
Literal translation: at the time
Register: normal
The French expression à la fois means "at the same time," even though the seemingly essential word même is not — indeed, cannot be — included. (See synonyms, below.)


  •    Je ne peux pas lire et écouter de la musique à la fois.
    I can't read and listen to music at the same time.
  • Ce film est amusant et éducatif à la fois.
    This movie is (both) funny and educational at the same time.
  • Ne parlez pas tous à la fois, chacun à son tour.
    Don't all speak at once, everyone (will) speak in turn.

Synonyms and Related Expressions

  • avoir le don d'ubiquité - to be everywhere at once.
  • se dédoubler - to be in two places at once.
  • en même temps - at the same time.
  • ensemble - together.
  • mêner ___ de front - to ___ at the same time, e.g.
    mener deux affaires de front - to run two businesses at the same time.
    mêner plusieurs tâches de front - to perform two tasks at the same time.

Expressions with À ​La Fois

  • chasser/courir deux lièvres à la fois
    to try to do two things at once
    (literally, "to chase/run after two hares at the same time")
  • On ne peut pas être à la fois au four et au moulin. (proverb)
    You can't be in two places at once.
    (literally, "You can't be at the oven and the mill at the same time.")
  • Nul ne peut servir deux maîtres à la fois. (proverb)
    You can't serve two masters.
    (literally, "No one can serve two masters at the same time.")
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Your Citation
ThoughtCo. "À la fois." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/a-la-fois-1371067. ThoughtCo. (2020, August 28). À la fois. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/a-la-fois-1371067 ThoughtCo. "À la fois." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/a-la-fois-1371067 (accessed January 27, 2021).