Tout/tous/toute/toutes = Everything/all (of them)/whole/completely in French

There are different ways to use tout in French - as a pronoun, an adjective or an adverb - to express slightly different things:

Tout = everything

Tout m'ennuie.Everything bores me.

Je comprends tout.I understand everything.

J'ai tout entendu !I heard everything!

Used on its own, the pronoun tout means everything. Note that it never changes.

 

Tout/tous/toute/toutes + [article] + [chose(s)]= All + [article] + [things] / [article] whole [thing(s)]

J'ai mangé tout le gâteau.I ate all the cake. / I ate the whole cake.

Toute la journée, mon chat dort.All day long, my cat sleeps.

Toutes mes soeurs sont très énervantes!All my sisters are really annoying!

Nous avons rencontré tous ses cousins.We met all his cousins.

To say all (the) [things] or (the) whole [thing], you will use the adjective tout, as follows :

tout/tous/toute/toutes + article + noun

Note that as an adjective, tout agrees in gender and number with the thing it refers to, as such:

  Masculine   Feminine
Singular   tout
toute
Plural tous
toutes
In this case, tous is always pronounced [too]: the -s is silent.


Tous / toutes = all [of them]

Les garçons ont passé leur examen et ils l'ont tous eu.The boys took their exam and they all passed.

Les garçons ont passé leur examen et tous l'ont eu.The boys took their exam and they all passed.

Used on their own, the pronouns tous and toutes replace already mentioned nouns. As such, tous/toutes agree in gender with the things they're replacing (they always express a plural quantity!)

Tous/toutes can be used either as:

- the subject of the verb = All [of them] did that.

On regardait les lucioles, et soudain toutes ont disparu.We were watching the fireflies, and suddenly they all disappeared.

Mes amis sont venus et tous étaient contents.My friends came and they were all happy.

- a complement to the existing plural subject = They all did that.

On regardait les lucioles, et soudain elles ont toutes disparu.We were watching the fireflies, and suddenly they all disappeared.

Mes amis sont venus et ils étaient tous contents.My friends came and they were all happy.

In this last case, tous/toutes is placed after the verb in simple tenses, or between the auxiliary and the past participle in compound tenses.
In this case, tous is always pronounced [toos], to differenciate it from tout (everything).

 

Tout + [adverbe] = Very + [adverb]

Nous nous sommes approchés tout doucement.We got closer very slowly.

Il est parti à tout jamais.He left forever.

The adverb of intensity tout can be used in front of another adverb to mean very. In this case, tout never changes.

  

Tout/toute + [adjectif] = Very/Completely + [adjective]

Martin a acheté un vélo tout neuf.Martin bought a brand-new bike.

Ses rétroviseurs sont tout tordus.His rear-view mirrors are completely twisted.

Mes fils étaient tout heureux de la voir.My sons were very happy to see her.

Alain était tout étonné de sa réponse.Alain was very surprised at her answer.

As an adverb, tout can also be used to modify the intensity of an adjective = very/completely.
In this context, tout never changes in front of masculine adjectives.

However, when it's used with feminine adjectives, the rules of agreement get pretty complicated!

Here are some examples followed by a summary table:

Ma mère est toute contente de nous voir.My mother is very happy to see us.

La fourrure de ma chatte Minette est toute hérissée !My cat Minette's fur is completely bristly!

Sa sœur est tout heureuse de sa nouvelle maison.His sister is very happy with her new house.

La Tour Eiffel est tout illuminée.The Eiffel Tower is completely lit up.

 

Mes chaussures sont toutes neuves.My shoes are brand new.

Mes filles sont toutes honteuses de leur comportement.My daughters are very ashamed of their behaviour.

Lucie et Juliette sont tout heureuses de se retrouver.Lucie and Juliette are very happy to see each other again.

Les filles étaient tout excitées de voir le feu d'artifice.The girls were very excited to see the fireworks.

  Adjectives starting
with a consonant or aspirated 'h'
Adjectives starting
with a vowel or mute 'h'
Feminine
Singular
toute  tout
Feminine
Plural
toutes tout

This rule's main aim is to make sure the pronunciation is always [toot] in the feminine. Indeed, in front of a vowel and mute 'h', the last 't' of tout is pronounced because of the liaison, hence no need for the extra 'e'.


Beware of these nuances:

Nous sommes tout impatients de venir !We're very impatient to come!

Nous sommes tous impatients de venir !We're all impatient to come!

Elles sont toutes joyeuses.They're all merry.
They're very merry.

Elles sont tout heureuses.They're very happy.

 

Pronunciation guide

Tout (masc. sg.) => [too]

Tous (masc. pl.) => [too] or [toos] depending on usage: see above.

Toute (fem. sg.) => [toot]

Toutes (fem. pl.) => [toot] (the -s is always silent, even when followed by a vowel: NO liaison!)

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Examples and resources

Tout m'ennuie.Everything bores me.
Martin a acheté un vélo tout neuf.Martin bought a brand-new bike.
Je comprends tout.I understand everything.
Nous nous sommes approchés tout doucement.We got closer very slowly.
Toutes mes soeurs sont très énervantes!All my sisters are really annoying!
Il est parti à tout jamais.He left forever.
Je trouve tous les pays intéressants.I find all countries interesting.
La Tour Eiffel est tout illuminée.The Eiffel Tower is completely lit up.
Mes filles sont toutes honteuses de leur comportement.My daughters are very ashamed of their behaviour.
On regardait les lucioles, et soudain elles ont toutes disparu.We were watching the fireflies, and suddenly they all disappeared.
Sa sœur est tout heureuse de sa nouvelle maison.His sister is very happy with her new house.
Ma mère est toute contente de nous voir.My mother is very happy to see us.
Mes chaussures sont toutes neuves.My shoes are brand new.
Mes amis sont venus et ils étaient tous contents.My friends came and they were all happy.
J'ai tout entendu !I heard everything!
Les filles étaient tout excitées de voir le feu d'artifice.The girls were very excited to see the fireworks.
Elles sont tout heureuses.They're very happy.
Nous avons rencontré tous ses cousins.We met all his cousins.
Lucie et Juliette sont tout heureuses de se retrouver.Lucie and Juliette are very happy to see each other again.
Elles sont toutes joyeuses.They're all merry.
They're very merry.
Mes fils étaient tout heureux de la voir.My sons were very happy to see her.
Toute la journée, mon chat dort.All day long, my cat sleeps.
La fourrure de ma chatte Minette est toute hérissée !My cat Minette's fur is completely bristly!
Alain était tout étonné de sa réponse.Alain was very surprised at her answer.
J'ai mangé tout le gâteau.I ate all the cake. / I ate the whole cake.
Nous sommes tous impatients de venir !We're all impatient to come!
Ses rétroviseurs sont tout tordus.His rear-view mirrors are completely twisted.
Nous sommes tout impatients de venir !We're very impatient to come!
Les garçons ont passé leur examen et tous l'ont eu.The boys took their exam and they all passed.
On regardait les lucioles, et soudain toutes ont disparu.We were watching the fireflies, and suddenly they all disappeared.
Mes amis sont venus et tous étaient contents.My friends came and they were all happy.
Les garçons ont passé leur examen et ils l'ont tous eu.The boys took their exam and they all passed.
Clever stuff happening!