Tout à l’heure

Tout à l'heure
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French Expression

Meanings just now, a moment ago
in a moment, right away
Literally all at the time
Register normal
Pronunciation [too tah leur]
IPA   [tu ta lœʁ]

Usage notes: The French expression tout à l’heure is what’s known as a contronym or auto-antonym: it is the opposite of itself. Tout à l’heure indicates a short period of time, whether in the recent past or the near future.

Par exemple…

Il est parti tout à l’heure.   He just left, He left a moment ago.
Il va partir tout à l’heure.   He’s about to leave, He’s leaving in a moment.

Abbreviation: à tout, texting: a tt

Semi-synonyms

  • à l’instant – a moment ago, just now (used for the past; also means "right now")
  • tout de suite – immediately, right away (only used for the future)

The parting expression à tout à l’heure and its informal variation à tout mean "See you soon."

 À toute allure, meaning "as fast as one can, at top speed, full tilt," can sound identical to à tout à l’heure to non-native speakers. The vowel sounds in the final syllables are the only difference in pronunciation – here are the IPA symbols:

  • [œ] ("eu" in heure)
  • [y] ("u" in allure)

 En anglais

WWI soldiers deformed à tout à l’heure into "toot-a-loo" when they brought it into English. (Also see ça ne fait rien and tout de suite.)

 Related lessons

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Tout à l'heure
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