or - conjonction de coordination

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by mgpgirl, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. mgpgirl New Member

    US English
    Moderator note: multiple threads merged to create this one.
    We are discussing the French conjunction "or," not the English word "or."
    Several translations to English are suggested here in the WR dictionary.

    Quelqu'un peut me dire ce qu' "Or" veut dire au début d'une phrase?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2009
  2. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France, French
    It can mean many things. :D More seriously, it is used in the beginning of a sentence to oppose this sentence to the previous one:

    Il a plu hier. Or la météo annonçait du beau temps !
    It has rained yesterday, although the weather forecast annouced a sunny day!

    Tout le monde croit qu'il est gentil. Or il a agi particulièrement mal.
    Everybody thinks he is a nice guy. Yet he behaved quite badly.
  3. dawamli New Member

    Switzerland (French)
    In theorem or other logical texts, the French word "or" is very useful. For example

    "Tout ce qui est rare est cher.
    Or une maison bon marché est rare
    Donc ce qui est bon marché peut-être cher"

    Dictionary gives "now" but I feel it insufficiently strong
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2009
  4. Danse Macabre Senior Member

    France (french)
    I'd say "but", "however".
  5. dawamli New Member

    Switzerland (French)
    Its difficult to explain why, but "however" or "but" induce an idea of opposition. That's not really the case in french with "or".. I'd put "or" between "however" and "furthermore" but the two of them seems strange to me...

    Geometrically, I'd present it like this :

    ---> (however)

    --->---> (furthermore)

    <-- (or)...
  6. charlie2 Senior Member

    ...peut-être "and yet" ?

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2009
  7. zaby

    zaby Senior Member

    I think that in the context of theorems and logical proofs 'and' can be used for 'or'
  8. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Yes, in a theorem "or" will most likely introduce a second statement which is not necessarily in contradiction with the first.
    (in your example, you have statement 1 and statement 2, and the contradiction lies in the association of the two)
  9. sanghasri Member

    England, English
    I think it is 'thus'
  10. Lucius Member

    English, Southern US
    I think it can be generally thought of as equal to "Now, with that in mind, consider that..."

    It's not quite equal to "but" or "now" or "however" every time it pops up. I think it just juxtaposes two ideas in order to produce a third.
  11. catalina20002 Member

    Lisant un conte par Flaubert, j'ai trouve une phrase que commencait comme ca: "Or, l'empereur d"occitainie, ayant triomphe' des Muselmans espagnols, s'etait joint par . . . ", comme on dit "maintenant" ou "alors" ou "cependant"'.

    I did not find any such reference to the meaning of "or" on this cite or this forum, but I have also come across it in another short story.

    I am assuming it is an archaic usage? For one not yet comfortable reading French, it kind of throws me. Any reassurance or explanation would be appreciated.
  12. The MightyQ Senior Member

    English, Canada
    I see it all the time in written french and find that "Now" works pretty well.
    Now the king of occitane, having triumphed etc, ..
  13. pieanne

    pieanne Senior Member

    Nice Hinterland
    You're right "or" is not really used in spoken language anymore...
    To me, it can mean (according to context) "as it was/is", or "yet" (cependant)

    You're right, it's quite fine too! :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2009
  14. Mateo34

    Mateo34 Member

    French - français

    I'd like to know how to translate the French coordinator "or". Maybe can it be translated by "however" but it sounds a bit strong for me.



    2 examples (from Wikipedia):
    "Tout le monde admire Léonard dans le village. Or on ignore généralement qu'il est profondément dépressif."
    "Tous les hommes sont mortels. Or Socrate est un homme. Donc, Socrate est mortel."
  15. Suehil

    Suehil Medemod

    Tillou, France
    British English
    "Tous les hommes sont mortels. Or Socrate est un homme. Donc, Socrate est mortel."
    In a case like this the English would leave it out altogether: "All men are mortal. Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal."
  16. pieanne

    pieanne Senior Member

    Nice Hinterland
    I think the best translation would be "now".
    (there's been a thread about it recently)
  17. Talant

    Talant Senior Member

    It's a kind of "but". A sentence that begins with "or" states an adverse condition

    "Jean me propose un chien. Or je vis dans un appartement" - "Jean offers me a dog. But I live in a flat"
  18. Ha_na

    Ha_na Senior Member

    Banlieue de Paris
    France/je suis française
    It works the same as "well", grammatically it's a conjonction and it's quite formal even literary. It's a kind of breath or break between two thoughts, two happenings.
    Hope it helps.
  19. hamer1970 Senior Member

    Maybe the adverb "however" would work. I just looked in my Larousse and that looks like the closest translation I can think of. This is a similar sentence to what is in my dictionary.

    On l'avait attendu; or il n'a pas pu venir au dernier moment.

    We waited; however he could not come at the last minute.
  20. prakam New Member

    or (conj.coord.)
    Expression de la transition entre une idée et une autre
    It's an expression that shows the transition between 2 ideas.
  21. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    It's a word that introduces a new context or broader consideration in a situation:
    On the other hand,
    ... it really depends on the context
  22. [Marc] Senior Member

    French France
    si ! whereas est très bien ! Merci :):)
  23. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Canberra, Australia
    English - Australia
    I would normally translate it as "even so" or "all the same".
  24. kecily New Member

    France, French
    Comment traduire la conjonction de coordination "or" ?

    Ex, dans la phrase :

    Il faut choisir entre une céréale et une légumineuse. Or, le seigle est une céréale.
  25. kanoe Senior Member

    France, French
    Ou une forme détournée :
    Or le seigle est une céréale, donc...
    --> Rye being a cereal, ....

    Il faut choisir entre une céréale et une légumineuse, or le seigle est une céréale.
    --> We must chose between corn and rye, and seigle is a cereal.
  26. archijacq Senior Member

    french France
    je dirais "now"/"but"
  27. coolchick

    coolchick Senior Member

    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    English/French, Canada
    I would add that at times, 'Or' can mean 'However' as in the following...

    "J'étais déçu du programme. Or, jétais heureux des amitiés que j'y ai fait."
    "I was disapointed in the program. However, I was pleased with the friendships that I made there."

  28. KenInPDX Senior Member

    Portland, Oregon
    US English
    My Larousse mini gives "but" or "now" as translations for "or" used as a conjunction.

    Here's how I would translate
    "Tout le monde admire Léonard dans le village. Or on ignore généralement qu'il est profondément dépressif."

    Everyone in the village admires Léonard. But it is not widely known that he is deeply depressed.

    In some cases, I think "or" can also be translated as "yet". In other cases, as with the syllogism, you wouldn't translate it to anything in English. The WR dictionary gives "although" as another alternative. I don't think there are really any rules, unfortunately, to determine which of the possibilities is the best alternative in any particular situation.
  29. DaiSmallcoal Senior Member

    English (UK) Wales U.K.
    or = 'now' doesn't mean 'at this time - this moment' , it's a 'pause' , to put a variation to , or to redefine, what has just gone before
  30. Salvatos Senior Member

    Québec, Canada
    French - Québec
    Il croyait pouvoir partir, or il a dû attendre =
    He thought he could leave, but he had to wait.

    Mais would be a synonym in this case.
  31. FrenchGen Senior Member

    Boston - USA
    Je dirais que 'or' est plus fort que 'mais'
    je traduirais 'or' par : 'mais en fait' ou 'sauf que'...
  32. Xavier11222 Senior Member

    France French
    Czesc Vizz2,
    You'll find many examples in the Trésor de la Langue Française - I particularly like this definition (secondary for them, but really essential and easy to remember) of theirs for the word:
    It works for most cases - in the sentence you give, what follows is implicit (the character is disappointed/has to change plans), but that's where the sentence leads.
    Sadly, it doesn't offer any direct help for translation. And there's no English equivalent that covers all possible contexts.
    Here, I'd say "but," as per Salvatos's suggestion, unless there's more after the sentence that warrants a "now" or "however."
  33. pointvirgule

    pointvirgule Senior Member

    Mtl, QC
    If you're familiar with syllogisms, or is used to introduce the minor premise:

    Major: La nuit, tous les chats sont gris.
    Minor: Or, tous les siamois sont des chats.
    Conclusion: La nuit, tous les siamois sont gris.

    La police recherche un individu de type caucasien. Or, X est Noir ; ça ne peut donc pas être lui.

    Tout le monde me dit d'arrêter de fumer ; or, j'en suis incapable, alors qu'on me laisse tranquille.

    Cette entreprise a besoin d'employés qui ont beaucoup d'expérience. Or, je travaille dans le domaine depuis vingt-cinq ans : je suis donc un bon candidat.

    De l'argenterie en or ? C'est absurde, car l'argent est de couleur argent. Or, l'or est de couleur or. :)

  34. Chimel Senior Member

    Basically, there are two main uses of or:

    1) The one you mention here is a temporal one. It is used in a narration to enhance a fact and is close to then, now... (not quite with the same nuance, but OK)
    You also find it in Maupassant's quote given by Mgarizona:
    « Elle pleurait pendant des jours entiers [...] Or, un soir, son mari rentra, l'air glorieux » (Maupassant).

    Actually, in both examples, you could easily suppress the or (and so, not translate it) without losing any meaning. The or just stresses the opposition between the description before (elle cultivait, elle pleurait...) and the action that follows (on lui vole, son mari rentra...), as to "wake up the reader". You'll also often find in fairy tales:
    "La princesse était très malheureuse et rêvait à cet inconnu qu'elle avait vu [+ long description of her sad life]. Or, un beau jour, un homme arriva...": children may have fallen asleep with the long description, with "or un beau jour" you draw their attention again (= now, at this point I'll tell you someting important).

    This is mainly written and literary French, so the point for you is just to understand it (except if you want to write a novel in French... :))

    2) The other one has a logical function in a thought process and is also spoken French. And here, we can make another little distinction:

    - or can be used to introduce the minor premise of a syllogism (PointVirgule). See the example of the police and the Black man. According to Mgarizona, you wouldn't translate it in this case.
    But this use is still rather formal as you don't often use syllogisms as you speak in daily life, do you? :)

    - so in real spoken French, I think we mainly use or in cases like this:
    "Il est très fâché contre moi. Or je ne lui ai jamais parlé."
    And in this case, the meaning is very close to yet or, sometimes, to in fact.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2009
  35. quinoa Senior Member

    The question is more how relevant it is than how frequent?
  36. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member


    I do think it's similar to et (although you can't really use et at the beginning of a sentence). It's used to link the two premises of a syllogism. In the well-known syllogism "All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal", the first two sentences are usually linked by or in French.

    La place de cinéma coûte 12 euros. Or, je n'ai que 8 euros sur moi (implicit conclusion: "Therefore, I won't have enough money").
    Nicolas m'a offert des roses. Or, j'adore les roses. (implicit conclusion: "Therefore, I'm thrilled").

    It's quite a formal word, though. It's usually used in complex demonstrations, leading to a not-so-obvious conclusion.

    In your first example, or amounts to en l’occurrence ("as it turns out"), and in your second example, it's more like however. It's a very vague word that reporters use very, very often to mean anything: and, however, now, as it turns out, etc.
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  37. iRoy Member

    Merci beaucoup pour votre réponse.

    Je vais l'utiliser alors pour dire ''therefore'' et si je le vois écrit sur un site ou dans un article, je sais maintenant qu'il peut signifier pleines de choses.
    Puis-je donc conclure que sa vraie définition est celle de ''therefore, pour cela'' mais que la plupart des Français l'utilisent pour dire pleines de choses...?
    Finalement, ce mot se trouve-t-il toujours en début de la phrase et est-il toujours suivi d'une virgule ?

    Merci :)
  38. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    No, this is not what I meant! It's clearly different from therefore ("par conséquent" in French).

    "All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal" "Les hommes sont mortels. Or, Socrates est un homme. Par conséquent, Socrates est mortel".

    The meaning of or is usually and (if the two sentences converge) or however (if they diverge), or as it turns out.

    Yes, or right after a semicolon ( ... ; or, ...)
    Last edited: May 25, 2014

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