Bien entendu

Bien entendu - French expression
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Formal French Expression

Meaning of course, obviously
Literally well understood
Register formal
Pronunciation French sound files [by(eh) na(n) ta(n) du]
IPA   [bjɛ̃ nɑ̃ tɑ̃ dy]

Usage notes: During a formal conversation, it’s common to ask questions to which the expected answer is "of course." The polite way to answer these is with the expression bien entendu.

Par exemple…

– Pourriez-vous m’aider ?
– Bien entendu, Madame.
  – Could you help me?
– Of course, Ma’am.
– Avez-vous fini le travail ?
– Bien entendu !
  Did you finish the work?
Of course! 

In reference to something obvious or expected, you can use bien entendu within a sentence:

Par exemple…

Il est, bien entendu, nécessaire d’engager un avocat.   Obviously, we need to need to hire a lawyer.
Après l’assemblée générale des actionnaires, bien entendu.   After the shareholders’ general meeting, of course.
Bien entendu, elle a dû démissionner.   She had to resign, of course.

 Unlike its less formal synonym bien sûr, bien entendu cannot be modifed with que oui or que non.

When it means "agreed, understood," bien entendu can be cut down to simply entendu:

Par exemple…

– C’est fini, on n’en parlera plus.
– Entendu.
  – It’s over, we won’t talk about it again.
– Agreed. 
C’est tout ce que j’ai à dire sur ce sujet, entendu ?   That’s all I have to say about this, understood?

Il est bien entendu que … means “of course it must be understood / it is understood that …”

Par exemple…

Il est bien entendu que ceci reste strictement entre nous.   Of course it’s understood (you understand) that this is strictly between us.
Il est bien entendu que ce projet est confidentiel.   It must be understood that this project is confidential.

French lesson plans Bien entendu in action

Examples of bien entendu in real-life videos from Lawless French Immersion:

Et donc c’est une dimension clé qu’il faut bien entendu avoir à l’esprit.   And so it’s a key dimension that we have to keep in mind of course.
Video: French election: which candidate looks the most presidential?
Mais là on est sur une affluence qui est en train d’augmenter par rapport à la semaine dernière bien entendu.   But there we’re talking about crowds that are increasing in comparison to last week of course.
Video: French families hit ski slopes during winter break

 À noter : Bien entendu isn’t always a set phrase; sometimes it’s the adverb bien modifying the past participle of the verb entendre (to hear, to understand) or s’entendre (to get along).

Par exemple…

Tu m’as bien entendu !   You heard me!
Je ne me suis jamais bien entendu avec mon cousin Philippe.   I never got along well with my cousin Philippe.

 Related lessons

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Bien entendu

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