Tout à coup

Tout à coup
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Essential French Expression

Meaningall of a sudden
Literallyall at (a) blow
PronunciationFrench sound files [too ta koo]
IPA  [tu ta ku]

Usage notes: The French expression tout à coup is used to express that something happened suddenly, without warning or expectation.

Par exemple…

Tout à coup, la voiture s’est retournée. All of a sudden, the car flipped over.
Je lisais quand tout à coup j’ai eu une idée. I was reading when I suddenly had an idea.

French lesson plans Tout à coup in action

Example of tout à coup in a real-life video from Lawless French Immersion:

Et tout à coup, paf ! On finit par ressortir ailleurs. And suddenly, bam! You end up coming out elsewhere.
Video: Secret passages: the traboules of Lyon


  • brusquement
  • de but en blanc
  • soudain
  • soudainement
  • subitement

 Faux synonym: Tout d’un coup is sometimes incorrectly used as a synonym for tout à coup.

 Tout à coup is an indicator that you need the passé composé rather than imparfait.

 Related lessons

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Tout à coup

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