French Adverbs: Encore vs. Toujours

When Should You Use These Two Adverbs?

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The French adverbs encore and toujours can be confusing, because they both have several meanings which partially overlap. While both can mean still or yet, encore can mean again while toujour can mean always.

Yet, it can get complicated and it's best to look at the two adverbs together. By the end of this French lesson, the differences should be clear to you and you will be able to use each adverb with more confidence.

Encore vs. Toujours: A Brief Comparison

While we will go into further detail for both encore and toujours as this lesson continues, let's begin with a brief overview of how each is used.

This table outlines the basic uses for these two words, including where they can overlap. You will also find synonyms that can mean the same thing. 

MeaningEncoreToujoursSynonym
againencore de nouveau
always toujours 
anotherencore  
anyhow toujours 
evenencore  
still(encore)toujoursnéanmoins
yetencore(toujours)déjà

The uses noted in parenthesis ( ) would be acceptable for the adverb noted, though the word not in parenthesis is a better fit for the true meaning intended.

Encore

The French adverb encore has a number of meanings. It can be used to mean againanother, more, even, or still.

Again. Again can be translated by encore (une fois) or by de nouveau.

Je l'ai vu encore une fois.
Je l'ai vu de nouveau.
I saw him again.
Il doit encore passer l'examen.
Il doit de nouveau passer l'examen.
He has to take the test again.

Another or More. Encore+ a noun means more or another. When the noun is plural or uncountable, use encore de.

Il veut encore une tasse de thé.He wants another cup of tea.
Il veut encore de thé.He wants more tea.
Encore des problèmes !More problems!

Even or Still.  Encore + a comparative can be used to convey the meaning of even or still to emphasize the comparison.

Encore plus beauEven more beautiful
Encore moins cherEven less expensive

Toujours

The French adverb toujours has several meanings. It may mean always, anyway, anyhow, at least, or still.

Always. The adverb always is often translated into French using toujours.

Il est toujours en retard.He's always late.
Pas toujours.Not always.

Anyway, Anyhow, or At least. If you are trying to confirm or support an idea, use toujours as you would anyway or anyhow.

Fais-le toujours, pour toi-même.Do it anyhow, for yourself.
Do it for yourself, at least.
Où est-il ? Toujours pas chez moi.Where is he? Not at my house, anyway.

Still. While encore can be used for the word still, in this sense toujour is a bit more accurate of a translation.

Je viens de manger, mais j'ai toujours faim.I just ate, but I'm still hungry.
Il me doit toujours 10 euros.He still owes me 10 euros.

Encore vs. Toujours

Now that we've looked at encore and toujours separately, let's compare them in two special circumstances: still and yet.

Still. Either toujour or encore can be used in a translation of still. As mentioned earlier, toujours is slightly more accurate.

Je suis toujours ici
Je suis encore ici.
(this also means "here again")
I'm still here.
Il n'est toujours pas prêt (or)
Il n'est pas encore prêt.
He's still not ready.

Still is translated by encore when it modifies an adjective.

encore mieuxbetter still/yet
Il est encore plus grand.He's taller still.

Note that still is translated by néanmoins when it means nonetheless

Néanmoins, je pense que c'est dommage.Still, I think it's too bad.

Yet. When yet is negative and interchangeable with still, use pas encore or toujours pas. However, keep in mind that pas encore is more accurate as it is a negative adverb that means not yet.

Il n'est pas encore prêt.
Il n'est toujours pas prêt.
He's not ready yet.
Je n'ai pas encore mangé.
Je n'ai toujours pas mangé.
I haven't eaten yet.
pas encore
(note: pas toujours = not always)
not yet

When yet is affirmative in the sense of already, its French equivalent is déjà.

As-tu déjà mangé ?Have you eaten yet?
Oui, j'ai déjà mangé.Yes, I have already eaten.
(Non, je n'ai pas encore mangé.)(No, I have not eaten yet.)