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Meaning of “On”

In this article we are going to talk about the meaning of “on”.  “On” literally means “One”  in English but is also informally used in everyday conversation to mean “we”.

  1. On = we
  • Salut Lucie, on va au cinéma ce soir ?     Hi Lucie, we go to the cinema tonight?
  • Oui c’est une super idée puis on ira au restaurant après. Yes, it’s a great idea then after we’ll go to the restaurant.
  • Très bien, on se retrouve à 18h devant le ciné. Ok, let’s meet at 6 pm in front of the cinema

Here, “on” is used in an informal conversation and means “we”. In everyday conversation, the French tend to use “on” more than “nous” whenever they want to say “we”.

If you look at French verb drills, you will see that “On” always appears alongside “il” and “elle” and therefore takes the same form of the verb.

Example: On mange au restaurant/ Il mange au restaurant/ elle mange au restaurant.

We eat at the restaurant/he eats at the restaurant/she eats at the restaurant

  1. On = one

“On” meaning “One” is often used in phrases: 

  • Quand on veut, on peut! When one wants, one can!
  • On ne sait aujourd’hui de quoi demain sera fait ! We don’t know today what will happen tomorrow!

En France, on parle français ! In France , one speaks French

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