Sens Dessus Dessous – French Adverbs and Prepositions

Bonjour !

Some adverbs & prepositions are difficult to tell apart, in sound or in usage such as: dessus, dessous, au-dessus, en dessous, and sens dessus dessous.

The French language is fun, complicated, poetic, and really messy. That’s why in this episode, we’ll learn to differentiate prepositions, how to use them correctly, and practice a very French expression that is useful in many situations.

Let’s jump (up and down) right into it.





Et toi ?

Did you know how to use dessus and dessous ?
Which adverbs or prepositions do you find hard to tell apart?
What was the last thing that made you feel sens dessus dessous?

Bonne journée,

Géraldine

Join the conversation!

  • Chère Géraldine,
    Merci pour cette excellente leçon. J’ai pris des notes pour bien retenir les explications.
    Typo : “Où est ta chauve-souris géante de compagnie ?” au lieu de “où es…”.
    À bientôt,
    Janaina

  • Salut Géraldine!
    Merci pour le podcast, c’était vraiment utile!
    Est-ce que tu peux m’aider la questionne ci-dessous nommée?
    Pourquoi on dit “Tu es assise dessus.” au lieu de “Tu as assis dessus.”
    Merci bcp! 🙂

  • La dernière chose qui m’a fait me sentir sans dessus dessous a été l’attentat terroriste à Nice. ????

  • Accents .. and a bit more ..

    sorry Annie, I’ve just noticed your suggestion
    too. It seems there’s a few things we can try
    to find those accents n’est ce pas ..

    merci et bonne journée tout le monde 🙂

    Jôhn ♪

  • Leah and Barbara .. more on the subject of accents.

    If you have a keyoard with your PC that
    has a second block of numbers, 1 thru 0,
    at the right hand end of the keyboard, you
    can find all of the accents etc by holding
    downt the Alt key and simultaneously keying
    selections of three numbers from that right
    hand block of numbers.
    For example :
    é = Alt + 130
    è = Alt + 138
    ç = Alt + 135
    à = Alt + 133
    ♫ = Alt + 14 ……..!
    .. and so on. Experiment around and you’ll
    discover all sorts of accents and squiggles
    etc that can come in händy ..

    salüt 🙂

    John

  • Yeh, this was really difficult. I am a French teacher (non native) and even though I intellectually understand the difference between the two, this video was not very helpful, so I can imagine that beginners would find it really hard. Especially because you spoke so fast, and used silly examples. If you were really teaching this you would use many examples in shorter arrangements, and you would not have them both in the same post – you’d link from one to the other.

    • Bonjour Sheila,

      Ouiii!!! Typo. J’ai mis une correction sur la vidéo (avec un petit pop up dans YouTube).
      On va corriger ça d’ici 2 semaines et remplacer la vidéo. On a beau relire et relire, certaines fautes passent. 🙂

  • Je trouve que cet idiome explique la différence entre dessus et dessous: Ils se promenaient bras dessus bras dessous.

  • Géraldine,
    Est-ce que vous pouvez nous aider avec la prononciation des sons “ou” et “u” en français, par exemple “nu” et “nous”, “rue” et “roue”, “coup” et “cul”.
    Je suis un anglophone et c’est très difficile d’entendre et de prononcer la différence entre ces deux sons.

    Merci.

  • I remember which to use by opposite thinking! Dessus doesn’t have an O so is above or “Over” and dessOus does have an O and is below or under !! Simples!! 🙂
    I really don’t get hung up about the sound as the sense often dictates what you mean 🙂

    • Salut Brian

      Tout à fait. Moi, je me souviens que les deux “sUr” et “dessUs” signifient “over”, et les deux “sOUs” et “dessOUs” signifient “under” – ça m’aide un peu. Mais, comme Graham en dessous, je ne peut pas entendre la différence entre les deux sons, pas du tout ! C’est très difficile pour nous anglophones, je pense.

  • Thank you so much Barbara, for the tips on typing accents with MACs. I didn’t know that you can just hold down a key to get a list of accents! That is so helpful!

  • Hi, everyone. For those of you who are wondering how to hear the difference between the words dessous and dessus, it’s this: the OU sound [IPA u] is made with tension in the back of your tongue and the tip of your tongue floating in the center of your mouth, which creates a large vocal cavity and hence, a low pitch. (Think of the difference between a large and a small musical instrument or the pipes on an organ.) The U sound [IPA y] is made with the tongue tension in the front of the mouth and the tip of the tongue parked behind your lower teeth (as it is for the I sound), and that creates a shorter resonating space, and hence a higher pitch. That difference in pitch is part of what you need to learn to perceive. You can’t tell the difference between the two sounds by looking at the speaker’s face because the lip position is the same for both.
    You might also hear a bit of a whistle on the s in dessus because of that tongue position and the blade of the tongue pressing up. You won’t hear any hissing in dessous.

  • Merci Géraldine, mais pouvez vous aussi expliquer par-dessous et par dessus svp? Comme on utilise dessous et par-dessous?

    • Bonjour Des,
      Bonne question. Comme l’episode était déjà très long, on a choisi de n’évoquer que les usages les plus courants.
      par-dessus = over something (J’ai un pull par-dessus ma chemise).
      Par-dessous = par en-dessous = from below / under :
      “- La table est en travers de mon chemin !
      – Passe par en-dessous.”

      Pour aller plus loin sur ces deux là, jette un oeil à wordreference, qui a un excellent forum.

  • On a Mac, you can hold down a key and a menu of accents for that letter will pop up. Maybe PCs have something similar.

  • Salut Géraldine

    Quelle belle phrase d´apprendre! Être soûl sous la table sans sou et dessous. 🙂 Cela semble avait été une bonne fête, mais peut-être un peu trop chère.
    En contraste avec tes collègues, tu est toujours amusant.;)

  • For accents, try this: Hold down Alt key and type 0232 for è, Alt and 0232 for è, Alt and 0234 for ê, Alt and 0224 for à, Alt and 0231 for ç. Cool, right?

  • Merci, Géraldine. J’ai aimé cette expression là ‘sens dessus dessous’. Je voudrais pratiquer plus. Le problème ce que je ne rien avec qui je peux parler.

  • Merci! I really enjoy your videos! As an American I find the subtle differences in pronunciation in today’s video nearly impossible to discern. If I can see the written words as I hear them it is a little easier. I hope I can learn to hear the subtle differences in pronunciation!

  • Merci, Geraldine pour votre pronunciation des mots “dessus” et “dessous”. Cela m’a aidee beaucoup.

    Bonne journee!

    (I don’t know how to add proper accents from my keyboard.)

    Leah

  • Merci Geraldine, ce sont les pièges les plus dangereuse dans la langue française et tu les as révélés d’une façon exemplaire – bottoms up !

  • Salut Géraldine. Merci pour ca – je trouve cela dûr. Il est difficile d’entendre la différence. J’ai le même problème avec le puce et le pouce, cul et coup etc.

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