Learn to Use the French Word 'Tout' and Its Variations

Hands up in convertible truck
"avoir toute liberté" (to be completely free). Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

The French word tout, which has many meanings including "all," "any," "every," "entire," and "most important," is one of the most common words in the French language. It has four possible forms:

 singularplural
masculinetouttous
femininetoutetoutes


Tout is also one of the most flexible French words, as it can be an adjective, adverb, noun, or pronoun.

 masculinefeminineinvariable
 singularpluralsingularplural 
adjectivetouttoustoutetoutes 
adverb  toutetoutestout
noun    le tout
pronoun tous toutestout
 

"Tout" as an Adjective

Tout as an adjective has four forms (touttoutetoustoutes) and various meanings. It can be used to modify all of the following:​

Nouns:

  • À tout âge > at any age
  • Avoir toute liberté > to be completely free
  • En tout cas > in any case
  • Tout enfant > every child
  • Toutes taxes comprises > with tax

Definite articles:

  • Tous les enfants > all the children
  • Tout le temps > all the time
  • Tous les jours > every day
  • Tous les deux jours > every other day
  • Toute la journée > all day ​
  • Tous les 36 du mois > once in a blue moon

Possessive adjectives:

  • Prendre tout son temps > to take one's time
  • Tous mes amis > all my friends
  • Toute ma famille > my whole family
  • T outes nos affaires > all of our things

Demonstrative adjectives:

  • Tous ces gens > all these people
  • Toute cette tristesse > all this sadness
  • Tout ce temps > all this time
  • Toutes ces idées  > all of these ideas

The different forms of adjectives are pronounced:

  • Tou: [tu]
  • Tous: [tu]
  • Toute: [tut]
  • Toutes: [tut]

As an Adverb

Tout as an adverb is nearly always invariable and can be used with adverbs, adjectives, and the prepositions à and de

  • Tout doucement  > very quietly
  • Tout droit  > straight ahead
  • Tout haut  > very loudly
  • Tout loin d'ici  > very far from here
  • Tout près  > very near

    Normally French adverbs are invariable, but tout is a special case. It sometimes requires agreement, depending on the gender and first letter of the adjective it modifies. With all masculine adjectives, singular and plural, tout is invariable:

    • Il est tout seul.  > He's all alone.
    • Ils sont tout seuls.  > They are all alone.
    • Nous sommes tout étonnés. > We are very surprised.

    With feminine adjectives, singular and plural, that begin with muet or a vowel, tout is invariable:

    • J'ai mangé la tarte tout entière. > I ate the whole pie.
    • J'ai mangé les tartes tout entières. > I ate the whole pies.
    • Elle est tout heureuse. > She is very happy.
    • Elles sont tout heureuses. > They are very happy.
    • C'est une tout autre histoire. > That's a whole other story.

    With feminine adjectives that begin with h aspiré or consonant, tout needs agreement: it must be feminine as well as singular or plural, depending on the number of the adjective:

    • Elle est toute petite. > She is very small.
    • Elles sont toutes petites. > They are very small.
    • Elle est toute honteuse. > She is very ashamed.
    • Elles sont toutes honteuses. > They are very ashamed.
    • Les toutes premières années. > The very first years.

    The different adverbs are pronounced as follows:

    • Tout: [tu]
    • Toute:  [tut]
    • Toutes:  [tut]

    The prepositions: à and de are used with tout  as follows:

    As a Noun

    Le tout is a noun meaning "whole" or "all," and is invariable in terms of gender and number, though the definite article le may contract or be replaced as usual.

    • Les éléments forment un tout. > The elements make a whole.
    • Le grand Tout > the Great Whole (the universe)
    • Mon tout > my whole (in the French game charades)
    • Pas du tout > not at all
    • Rien du tout > nothing at all
    • Le tout, c'est de faire vite. > The main thing is to be quick about it.

    The noun tout is pronounced [tu].

    As a Pronoun

    Tout can be two different kinds of pronouns.

    When it's a neuter pronoun, tout is invariable and means "all" or "everything":

    • Avant tout > above all
    • Malgré tout > in spite of everything
    • C'est tout > that's all
    • Tout va bien > everything is fine
    • Tout est en règle > everything is in order
    • Tout ce qui brille n'est pas or > All that glitters isn't gold

    As a plural pronoun, there are two forms, tous and toutes, which mean "everyone" or "all" and usually have an antecedent.

    • Où sont mes amis? Tous sont ici. Ils sont tous ici. > Where are my friends? Everyone is here. They're all here.
    • Je ne vois pas les filles. Elles sont parties toutes ensemble. > I don't see the girls. They all left together.

    The different pronouns are pronounced:

    • Tout: [tu]
    • Tous: [tus]
    • Toutes: [tut]