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A friend of mine was asking why so many contractors work in Dubai, I replied by saying (approximately):

À Dubai, on a plus d'argent.

Meaning to say that one can earn more money in Dubai. I pronounced the "plus" in this phrase: /ply/ (rhymes with "stew" in English). My friend looked puzzled and, after a while said:

Tu veux dire, on a plus d'argent!

At least, that's what it sounded like to me. Except he pronounced the 's' in "plus": /plys/ (rhymes with "juice" in English).

I thought the sounding of the 's' was optional. Clearly i'm wrong! :) Can someone please explain the difference between /ply/ and /plys/?

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3  
Note also that "We don't have any money anymore" would also be written differently: "On n'a plus d'argent" and not "On a plus d'argent". –  ℝaphink Aug 19 '11 at 8:17
    
By the way, the "s" in "moins" (less) is sometimes pronounced, and sometimes not (depending on the region). –  ℝaphink Aug 19 '11 at 8:17
    
@Raphink: So in "On n'a plus d'argent" would not pronounce the 's'? –  alpian Aug 19 '11 at 8:28
3  
@alpian, exact. Otherwise you would probably be misunderstood. –  Stéphane Gimenez Aug 19 '11 at 8:39
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@Raphink: Note that this is not necessarily true in highly informal contexts. In a chat room, "on a plus d'argent" is perfectly ambiguous because it could just as well mean "on n'a plus d'argent" ! –  Brennan Vincent Aug 22 '11 at 14:34

4 Answers 4

up vote 32 down vote accepted

Il y a trois mots qui s'écrivent « plus ».

  1. Une particule négative, utilisée pour nier quelque chose qui était vrai dans le passé mais ne l'est pas maintenant.

    Je n'ai plus d'argent, je suis fauché. (I have no more money, I'm skint.)

    On ne prononce jamais le s (donc : [ply]), sauf pour faire la liaison ([plyz]).

    Je ne suis plus aussi rapide qu'avant. (lit. I am no longer as quick as before., trad. I am not as quick as I used to be) […plyzosi…]

  2. Un adverbe (et nom) qui signale une addition. Il y a plusieurs sous-cas.

    • Lorsque « plus » est un adverbe, on ne prononce en principe pas le s : [ply], sauf encore pour faire la liaison ([plyz]). Toutefois, lorsqu'il y a un risque de confusion, on prononce le s sourd ([plys]). C'est justement le cas dans ton exemple : « On a plus d'argent » (« we have more money ») serait indistinguable à l'oral de « on n'a plus d'argent » qui a le sens exactement opposé, donc on dit [ɔ̃naplysdargɑ̃]. On prononce aussi souvent le s sourd en fin de phrase ou de groupe de mots suffisamment autonome. « De plus en plus » (« more and more ») [dəplyzɑ̃plys].

    • « Plus » sert en particulier à former un comparatif ou un superlatif.

      Il est plus grand que moi. (He is taller than me.)
      L'Everest est la montagne la plus haute. (Mount Everest is the tallest mountain.)

      On prononce rarement le s (hors liaison), mais ça peut arriver pour insister lorsqu'on pense qu'il y a un risque de confusion.

    • Dans un usage mathématique, on prononce le s sourd. « Deux plus deux » (« two and two ») [døplysdø].

    • Lorsque « plus » est un nom, on prononce le s sourd.

      Qui peut le plus peut le moins. (proverbe, lit. « Who can do the most can do the least ») [kipøləplyspøləmwɛ̃]
      D'autant plus que ... (all the more as …) [dotɑ̃plyskə]

  3. Une forme conjuguée du verbe « plaire » (passé simple). On ne prononce pas le s (sauf liaison).


There are three words in French which are spelled plus. The first two form a duality which is similar to the English more.

  1. A negative particle (to go with ne except in colloquial speech, like any other negation). “Ne … plus” indicates that something is no longer true, i.e. that it is not true now but by implication it was true at some point in the past.

    Je n'ai plus d'argent, je suis fauché. (I have no more money, I'm skint.)

    The s is always silent (thus [ply]) except when a liaison is required, in which case the word is pronounced [ply.z].

    Je ne suis plus aussi rapide qu'avant. (lit. I am no longer as quick as before., idiomatically I am not as quick as I used to be) […plyzosi…].

  2. An adverb (and occasional noun) which denotes an addition, There are several sub-cases.

    • When plus is an adverb, the s is generally silent: [ply], except as before for a liaison ([plyz]). However, when there is a potential confusion, the s is sounded, always voicelessly ([plys]). Your example falls squarely into this case: “on a plus d'argent” (“we have more money”) would be indistinguishable from “on n'a plus d'argent” which has the opposite meaning, hence it would be pronounced [ɔ̃naplysdargɑ̃]. The voiceless s is also usually sounded at the end of a sentence or sufficiently autonomous phrase, such as “de plus en plus” (“more and more”) [dəplyzɑ̃plys].

    • The adverb plus can in particular be used to indicate a comparative or a superlative.

      Il est plus grand que moi. (He is taller than me.)
      L'Everest est la montagne la plus haute. (Mount Everest is the tallest mountain.)

      In this case, the s is rarely sounded (liaisons excepted), but it can happen when the speaker fears that there is a risk of confusion and wishes to insist.

    • In mathematical usage, the s is always voiceless, never silent.

      Deux plus deux (two and two) [døplysdø]

    • When plus is a noun, the s is always voiceless, never silent.

      Qui peut le plus peut le moins. (proverb, lit. Who can do the most can do the least) [kipøləplyspøləmwɛ̃]
      D'autant plus que ... (all the more as …) [dotɑ̃plyskə]

  3. The simple past (second or third person singular) of the verb plaire. The s is always silent (except in a liaison).

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Id say "I have no money left" instead of "no more money" which sounds awkward to me). –  Knu Aug 27 '13 at 17:59
    
Would someone be so kind to translate this answer into English? –  citizen Feb 27 at 20:06
1  
@citizen Done.. –  Gilles Feb 27 at 21:10
    
(For non native speakers: note that in the spoken language, the "ne" is omitted more often than not. So pronouncing plus wrong will cause speakers to hear the opposite of what you intend, as happened to the OP.) –  hunter Feb 27 at 22:43

You'll also want to pay attention to the [plyz] prononouciation when plus is followed by a vowel.

See http://www.lepointdufle.net/ressources_fle/plus.htm for more information and exercices. Notice exercices 7 and 8 are very close to your example.

Funnily enough, the cnrtl doesn't seem to list any other pronounciation than [ply]

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The 's' pronunciation can help to make the difference between the "plus" used a as negation (/ply/)

"Je n'ai plus d'argent" =~ "Je n'ai pas d'argent"

"I have no more money" =~ "I have no money"

"Je ne fais plus cela" =~ "Je ne fais pas cela"

"I don't do this anymore" =~ "I do not do this"

The /plys/ version is used to refer to the additive operator +.

"J'ai plus d'argent que toi" ~ "I have more money than you"

"Je n'ai pas plus d'argent que toi" ~ "I do not have more money than you"

"Je n'ai pas plus d'information pour toi" ~ "I have no more(additional) information for you"

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(+1) Thanks for the detailed explanation and examples - I think I get it now! :) –  alpian Aug 19 '11 at 8:25

In a short way :

  • you pronounce the 's' when "plus" means more.
  • you don't pronounce the 's' when "plus" means no more.
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Yet you don't pronounce it in "pas plus tard qu'hier" –  Joubarc Aug 19 '11 at 8:23
1  
(+1) Thanks! This is a great and simple explanation for an easy concept that has always puzzled me! –  alpian Aug 19 '11 at 8:25

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