Tout – Adverb

Tout - French adjective
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Tout (toute, toutes)

The French adverb tout modifies various parts of speech, including adjectives and other adverbs. It’s pronounced [tu] – at least, most of the time.

[IPA pronunciation]

1) Tout + adverb

When it modifies an adverb, tout is invariable and means "very," "entirely," or "equally."

Par exemple…

tout autant   just as much
tout autrement   completely differently
tout droit   straight ahead
tout ensemble   all together
tout simplement   very simply

2) Tout + preposition

Tout is also invariable and has a similar meaning when followed by a preposition.

tout à fait   absolutely
tout au fond   at the very end
tout de même   all the same, anyway
tout de suite   immediately
tout près   very near

3) Tout + gerund

To emphasize that two things are happening at the same time, you can use tout + en + gerund.

Je l’ai fini tout en écoutant de la musique classique.   I finished it while listening to classical music.
Tout en souriant, il m’a menti.   Smiling, he lied to me.
He was all smiles as he lied to me.

More examples with sound files

4) Tout + adjective

It’s with adjectives that tout can be a little strange, adverbially speaking. When it modifies masculine adjectives (singular or plural), tout is invariable, like all French adverbs.

un gâteau tout entier
des gâteaux tout entiers
  an entire cake
entire cakes
Il est tout heureux.
Ils sont tout heureux.
  He is very happy.
They are very happy.
Il est tout nu.
Ils sont tout nus.
  He is completely naked.
They are completly naked.
Il est tout honteux.
Ils sont tout honteux.
  He is very ashamed.
They are very ashamed.

It’s also invariable in front of feminine adjectives (singular or plural) that begin with a vowel or mute h.

une tarte tout entière
des tartes tout entières
  an entire pie
entire pies
Elle est tout heureuse.
Elles sont tout heureuses.
  She is very happy.
They are very happy.

 But here’s the tricky part. Tout is unique among French adverbs in that it has different forms to agree with feminine adjectives. And even then, it’s only when they begin with a consonant or aspirated h.

a) When the adjective is singular, tout becomes toute (and is pronounced [tut]):

Elle est toute nue.   She is completely naked.
Elle est toute honteuse.   She is very ashamed.

b) And when it’s plural, toutes (also pronounced [tut]):

Elles sont toutes nues.   They are completely naked.
Elles sont toutes honteuses.   They are very ashamed.

 Tout can also be an adjective, noun, or pronoun.

 Related lessons

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Tout as an adverb
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