Deuxième ou second étage

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Deuxième ou second étage

I see you are allowing both « deuxième étage » and « second étage » for the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower (which I guess has quite a few floors). I understood that these two terms were not interchangeable and I found the following rule: (Règle : la règle communément admise et partagée par l'Académie française est d'écrire « second » lorsqu'il n'y a que deux éléments et pas de troisième dans votre énumération. Si vous parlez du deuxième élément d'une série allant au delà de deux, alors écrivez « deuxième ».) So therefore in the case of the Eiffel Tower I would have thought that only « deuxième » would have been correct. (Or if there were only 2 floors then only « second » would have been correct.) But I was wondering if in common everyday usage these two words are actually interchangeable these days (as I realise that many French people don’t necessarily agree or abide by what the Académie dictates). Thanks.

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Paul,

Both versions are accepted and although I had nothing to do with this particular exercise, I personally agree with this because in everyday life  'deuxième étage' is much easier to say than 'second étage' because of the awkward liaison between second and étage ( the -d becomes a -t). 

Try it out and you will see ...

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Your suspicion is correct: the rule laid down by the AF is not strictly observed in contemporary French. Seconde and deuxième are pretty much used interchangeably, except where one or the other is used in a more or less fixed phrase (e.g., la seconde chance, seconde nature, second choix, etc.).

If you want to stress that it is the second place and not just one among many that just happens to follow the first one, then use second. The distinction has largely become a stylistic one and not so much a hard and fast rule.

Deuxième ou second étage

I see you are allowing both « deuxième étage » and « second étage » for the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower (which I guess has quite a few floors). I understood that these two terms were not interchangeable and I found the following rule: (Règle : la règle communément admise et partagée par l'Académie française est d'écrire « second » lorsqu'il n'y a que deux éléments et pas de troisième dans votre énumération. Si vous parlez du deuxième élément d'une série allant au delà de deux, alors écrivez « deuxième ».) So therefore in the case of the Eiffel Tower I would have thought that only « deuxième » would have been correct. (Or if there were only 2 floors then only « second » would have been correct.) But I was wondering if in common everyday usage these two words are actually interchangeable these days (as I realise that many French people don’t necessarily agree or abide by what the Académie dictates). Thanks.

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