Friday’s French – normalement, normal & norme

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In a very amusing post, Abby from Paris Weekender talks about her new pet peeve as opposed to her previous one which is normalement that got me thinking about how it is used in French.

Totally irrelevant photo taken in Rue Tiquetonne. I wish my geraniums would grow like that!

Totally irrelevant photo taken in Rue Tiquetonne. I wish my geraniums would grow like that!

Abby gives the example of normalement meaning that something should happen :

Le magasin est ouvert demain ? Normalement, oui. – The store is open tomorrow?  It should be, yes.

Another context you’ll frequently find is normalement il vient jeudi – he normally/usually/generally comes on Thursday. Alternatives are d’habitude il vient le jeudi and en général il vient le jeudi.

C’est normal and ce n’est pas normal are also common expressions. The first means “it’s only natural” while the second means “there must be something wrong”.

Merci de m’avoir aidé ! C’est normal. – Thank you for helping me. It’s only natural. Or in Australian parlance “No worries, mate!”

Il est en retard. C’est pas normal. – He’s late. Something must be wrong/that’s not like him.

Ce n’est pas normal qu’ils soient libérés de prison si tôt. – It’s not right that they’ve been let out of jail so soon.

Note the use of the subjunctive soient and not sont (not that everyone uses it!)

Sometimes you can avoid the subjunctive without ambiguity, but it’s not always possible.

Il n’est pas normal d’attendre trois semaines pour avoir un RdV chez l’ophthalmo – You shouldn’t have to wait three weeks to get an appointment with the eye specialist.

(Unfortunately in France it always seems to be the case particularly in the country. Same for gynaecologists, I might add.)

So when would we say “normal” in English and not in French ?

He got there at the normal time : Il est arrivé à l’heure habituelle if you mean he got there at the time he usually does and il est arrivé à l’heure précisée/réglementaire if you mean that he got there at the time he was supposed to.

To get back to normal is revenir à la normale and not revenir à normal.

Which makes me think of norm. It’s the norm = C’est la norme.

Norme also has the meaning of standard e.g. normes de fabrication = manufacturing standards

Ce produit n’est pas conforme aux normes françaises : This product does not comply with/conform to French standards.

Have you heard normal or normalement used in other contexts ?

And, normalement, this blog will be back to it’s usual format next week!

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