Tout à coup

Tout à coup
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Essential French Expression

Meaning all of a sudden
Literally all at (a) blow
Register normal
Pronunciation [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.


  • 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.

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