In a nutshell | Nothing is less sure

The French language is evolving at breakneck speed. Each week, our language advisor dissects the words and expressions that make the headlines or give us trouble.

In French, it is the preposition in that we should use (and not on) with the name street. According The right use of Grevisse, the employment of on – which should be avoided in writing – is modeled on English (“on the street”). In the street means both “on the public road, at road level, between buildings or land bordering the road”.

We will therefore avoid writing Police operation on rue Saint-Pierre. The preposition can be omitted when specifying the street name. Police operation rue Saint-Pierre. He lived on rue des Cerisiers all his life. I live on the same street as him. Children play street hockey. On the street is sometimes correct. Apartment facing the street. Door leading to the street.

However, we write on the Avenue Where in the avenue and on the Boulevard. The usage is like that. You can also omit the preposition and the article. Their offices are located on (Where in) Mont-Royal Avenue, Mont-Royal Avenue. He lives on boulevard Saint-Laurent.

The preposition on should be avoided in many other cases. We will write for example be part of a committeenot “being on a committee”. Sit on the board of directors, be a board member. Be part of a jury. No smoking on the plane Where On board the plane (and not “on the plane”). Live on a farm Where on the farm, on a reserve. The sickest patients are on the floors. They live on the same floor.

Be unemployed (and not on unemployment), to receive (from) social assistance, to live on social assistance, receive social assistance benefits (we are not on social assistance or on the BS). Cross the street at a red light, turn right at the red light. trust someone (and not “on him”).

What about the formulation go “to” Paris? It is best to continue to avoid it in writing. We are heading towards a city where we go at Paris. We live at Paris. But an army marches well on a city. The troops march on the capital.


Never seen ?

Could I know your opinion on the increasingly frequent use of the expression never seen ? For me, never means… never!


In the dictionary Laroussethe noun (masculine invariable) never seen means a “situation, [une] practice, [des] completely exceptional and sensational actions”.

We must understand that this name designates what has never happened (until now), or what has not happened for a very long time. We also find the name never seen without a hyphen. This is unheard of. Such a story is unheard of! Unheard of since 1985.

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