Where to put 'tout' in a sentence?
I encountered 2 sentences and they made me wonder where is the appropriate place to put '<em>tout</em>'.

<em>"Je veux </em><em>tout </em><em>goûter avant de manger."</em>
<em>"Je devrais manger </em><em>tout </em><em>ce que je veux."</em>

Why is the '<em>tout</em>' in the 2nd sentence after the verb? Doesn't it make more sense if it's:

<em>"Je devrais </em><em>tout </em><em>manger ce que je veux."</em>

Are both acceptable?
(Unimportant question: what level of French is this usually taught?)

Jun 5, 2020 8:13 AM
Comments · 2
Hey Dylan,

I must say it's tricky to explain. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get it right quickly.

<em>"Je veux tout goûter avant de manger."</em><em> </em><em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">--> This sentence is grammatically correct, though the meaning is a bit unclear. The best translation would be "I want to taste everything before eating"...... but by tasting, you actually eat. </em>

<em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">So let's take a sentence that has the same construction but a clearer meaning, for example :</em>
"Je veux tout manger avant de partir". --> "I want to eat everything before leaving." You can divide the sentence in 2 propositions : "I want to eat everything" and "before leaving". There are 2 actions.
When "tout" is followed by the verb of action, "tout" is defined by itself. It is a whole. It is "everything."

<em>"</em><em>Je devrais manger</em><em> </em><em>tout ce que je veux</em><em>." --> </em><em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">Correct sentence. The translation would be "I should eat everything I want". In this case, "everything I want" is the object, it is a whole. </em>
<em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">There is only one action : eating. </em>
<em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">And there is only one object : "everything I want".</em>
<em>When "tout" follows the verb of action, it has to be qualified. It is "everything that...".</em>

<em>"</em><em>Je devrais tout manger</em><em> </em><em>ce que je veux</em><em>." --></em><em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);"> Not correct. "je devrais tout manger" means "I should eat everything" and "ce que je veux" means "what I want"... Grammatically, it sounds like there are 2 objects that are not linked, not compatible.</em>
<em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">1st object : everything</em>
<em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">2nd object : what I want</em>
<em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">Do you want to eat everything or do you want to eat what you want ? Or maybe you want to eat... everything THAT you want ?</em>

<em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">Here's another example :</em>
<em>J'aimerais lire tout ce qui est dans cette bibliothèque. </em><em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">(object : "everything that is in this library")</em>
<em>J'aimerais tout lire dans cette bibliothèque. </em><em style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204);">(object : "everything" where ? "in this library". You can delete "in this library" and the sentence would still make sense, it would just lack of context)</em>
June 5, 2020
Merci beaucoup, Hugo ! That's very helpful!!!
June 6, 2020
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Hokkien), English, French, German, Malay
Learning Language
French, German