Toujours always means…always, right? Wellllll, pas toujours, not always.
Ne t’inquiète pas, in this lesson we’re going to talk about the 4 main meanings of toujours I hear in everyday French with plenty of example sentences. Du coup, si t’es prêt ou prête, c’est parti ! Read on or watch the video.
Alors, tout d’abord, let’s start with probably the most known translation of **toujours** and that is **always**. We can see if we look closely that it’s formed of **tou** the root of **tout and tous** which mean **all** and **jours** which means **days**. So, maybe we should say **aldays** in English instead, haha. Shall we start a petition to change it? Let me know in the comments :D.
Bref, always can mean every time in a repeated event such as in the sentence:
Il est toujours en retard. C’est un vrai problème. He’s always late. It’s a real problem.
Handy synonym for toujours
À chaque fois is a good synonym and would go at the end.
Il est en retard à chaque fois. Each time.
When we use always, this can also mean from the beginning as in there wasn’t a time when this wasn’t true. For example:
J’ai toujours aimé cette chanson. I’ve always liked/loved this song.
Est-ce que vous avez toujours voulu habiter ici ? Non, pas toujours.
Notice that for the passé composé here, toujours goes between the auxiliary verb (avoir) and the past participle (voulu). Easy enough since we do the same in English.
Similar to always really, toujours can mean forever.
J’adore cette maison ! Je pense que je vais y habiter pour toujours. I love this house. I think I’m going to live here forever.
More handy synonyms for toujours
Toute ma vie, à jamais, à vie are all synonyms of toujours in this case.
Of course, we often say forever when we just mean we can’t imagine a time where the situation is different.
Je pense que je vais y habiter pour toujours. Enfin, pas pour toujours, mais pour plusieurs années au moins ! I think I’m going to live here forever. I mean, not forever, but for a few years at least!
3. STILL #1
There are two meanings of still for which you can use toujours.
The first one is like despite or anyway, anyhow, anyways, nevertheless.
Oui il pleut, mais sortir c’est toujours une bonne idée. Yes, it’s raining but it’s still a good idea to go out. It’s a good idea to go out despite that.
Non, il vient pas, mais on est **toujours** 4 sans lui. Ça suffit. No, he’s not coming, but there’s **still** 4 of us without him. It’s enough.
Personally, I usually go with quand même for this meaning of toujours. I just hear it more often so I’ve started to use it. If you want me to make a lesson on quand même and all its meanings let me know in the comments. It’s very versatile.
4. STILL #2
Ensuite, the other meaning of still is to describe an ongoing situation that has not yet finished. It’s still happening. For this we can use toujours as well. This really confused me when I first arrived in France, because I had learned that encore meant still, and since toujours meant always to me, I couldn’t see the connection.
Bref, it can definitely mean still and it’s the one I use most of the time in this situation:
Est-ce que tu travailles toujours à la banque ? Ouais, toujours. Do you still work at the bank? Yep, still.
(On the phone) 1. Ne quittez pas s’il vous plaît. 2. Ça marche. 1. Vous êtes toujours là ? 2. Oui.
In that last section you can replace toujours with encore without a problem.
However, there are a couple of nuances to point out that can make one make more sense than the other.
Firstly, encore is better used when expressing that the situation is expected to end but hasn’t, whereas this isn’t part of toujour’s meaning.
Vous attendez encore ?
Could mean “it’s been a long time, you’re still waiting?” or not. Depends on the intention of the speaker.
Il reste encore deux jours. There are still 2 days left.
Encore is better here because the end of the ongoing situation, maybe a holiday, is specified.
The second nuance is in negative sentences:
Je n’ai toujours pas reçu le mail. I still haven’t received the email.
Contrast that with:
Je n’ai pas encore reçu le mail. I have not yet received the email.
As you see, a subtle nuance. And also, the toujours goes before the pas, whereas the encore goes after.
So that’s it, toujours can mean always, forever, and still in 2 different ways. Leave a comment if you enjoyed it and want to practise. Here’s my lesson on encore if you want to read that next.