Is it "toute suite" or "tout de suite"?

Sometimes you hear people use a French expression in English pronounced “toot sweet”. The meaning is like Spanish pronto or rural American English right quick. Often, when spelled out, this expression is spelled as the two French words tout suite.

But shouldn’t this expression be spelled tout de suite? IIRC, the French expression pas tout de suite means in English approximately “not so fast”. It seems pretty likely to me that pas tout de suite and tout de suite are conceptually related expressions.

BTW, for Francopone Dopers: what is the literal meaning of tout de suite in English? “All of … ?” I know this is an idiomatic expression, but still I’m wondering what the word suite translates into.

It is written tout de suite, however, here in Québec, the d is often dropped when talking and his pronounced toute suite.

As for for the litteral translation it would be “everything (or all) follows in a row (line)”.

Regional accents do play a part, as they do in any language. While in Francophone Africa, I had an employee who was from near Toulouse in the south of France. He pronounced the subject phrase “tout-eh de suite”, with the “eh” softly dropped. Perhaps it was an affectation, but it was noticeable.

This raises a point that I’ve always wondered about. Terminal “e,” unless marked by an accent, is always silent in spoken French, right? Yet when I hear French people sing, they always seem to voice terminal e, as in “Le soleil a rendezvous avec la lun-uh.” I have to think this is an accepted practice, as the song seems to be written with two notes for the word “lune.” Is this a dialect thing? Do some French speakers voice the “e” in normal speech?

Some people in Southern France still pronounce the final ‘e’.

Tout de suite.

But in spoken French, words tend to run together. The “de” is added to the first word, the t at the end of “tout” is silent, and “d” sounds in French are often changed to “t” sounds. So “tout” suite is close to the way it sounds, at least for casual conversations. When making a speech or talking to a big wig, you don’t take so many liberties.

Additionally, consonants are not expirated as they are in English. In other words, breath is not exhaled with the letter. It takes practice for an English speaker to do this. All of which has little to do with the OP, but provided for information.


Sometimes you’ll hear it in Southern France but in general conversational French, not so much. In singing and while reading poetry out loud however, you hear the terminal “e”. That’s just the way it’s supposed to be pronounced. They count as part of the syllables. My profs never explained why this was, just that in poetry and song you would pronounce that e.

the conjugation in french often requires before and after a subject to effectively negate the subject or verb. N’E PAS as it is often referred to. so as i understand toute suite is like saying all of the haste where as toute de suite still contains the second part of that conjugation negation separating the action and the verb, -OR- to enhance the conversational understandability that gives french it’s silky lavish. I’ve only heard it pronounced (Toots-hUEEt).

Could toute-de-suite be a sarcastic element of “soooooo fast” that’s how it would strike me if i just heard it, but je ne sai pas if sarcasm translates.

To answer the question about vowels in french music being pronounced where they normally would be silent: In order to stretch a melody across more than one note or octave you need either a hard consonant or a vowel, the vowels sound better for some reason, and usually you need a vowel acting on a consonant to make that staND out. which i think technically makes it no longer silent.

Welcome to the Straight Dope, Snowbuddy. You’re probably 13 years too late for your answer to matter to the previous posters in this thread though.

Good thing he didn’t need an answer tout de suite.

As my old mum used to say, the toooter the sweeter,.

Toot sweets.

This zombie was taking a siesta… Spanish’ closest expression is enseguida rather than pronto; pronto means “soon” or “early” (depends on context) but enseguida means “following this very sentence, right now, already being done” (the root is seguir, “to follow”, making it a direct equivalent to the French expression).

When I want to hear French I listen to Mireille Mathieu singing La Marseillaise. She pronounces all the terminal e’s except some followed by an initial-vowel word. (She also rreally rrolls her 'r’s. :eek: )

As they do all the other "e"s :).
French comedian Patrick Bosso has a sketch where he described how northerners cut out as many e’s as they can from their speech (such as pronouncing “tout de suite” “tout d’suite”), then ship 'em down south where they’re drowning in the leftovers and have to add some when there are none (e.g. they pronounce the word “pneu” (tire) as “peuneu”)

That sounds like the joke on English that the Southern US drops their terminals "r"s, which are shipped up to New England to be added to the end of words that don’t have one.

I’ll see your Dick VanDyke and raise you aPaul Anka.