An Amusing Debate About the French Word ‘Personne’ Having the Opposite Definitions of ‘Person’ and ‘Nobody’

Multilingual comedian Loïc Suberville, who has fun making fun of both English and French, quite amusingly berated a very French version of himself for the two polar opposite English definitions of the word “personne”. In one case, the word means “person”, yet in another case, it means “nobody”.

You’ve lost me…Personne means a person, except when it means nobody. ….That’s where you lose me because nobody and a person are like opposites. …What is the point of having words for things if you use the same word for two opposites?

This particular word, according to Google Translate, can also mean “anybody”, “anyone”, “no one”, or “none” as well. All of which puts a really fine point on the grammatical fact that “context always matters”.

Personne English Definition
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.