In the sense of word choice or musical composition I often want to say that one thing "sounds better" than another, or sounds worse. I'm not sure what verb to use for this in French.

"X se sonne mieux que Y" ? That seems quite wrong but I can't find any examples. I'm also not sure when to use "se sonner" vs "sonner" in general, the usage seems ambiguous.

3 Answers 3


Se sonner isn't actual French. Your other alternative is correct though: one would say “Ça sonne mieux” or “Ça sonne moins bien/pire”.

  • 2
    Ahhhhhhhh sonner is not reflexive at all. Okay. Good to know. Just used to this type of expression being reflexive. Seems like it would be. Nov 9, 2015 at 21:15
  • Is it common to use this re: word choice? Like if I'm correcting someone's French/English, and they ask why, can I say "parce qu'il sonne mieux"? Nov 9, 2015 at 21:16
  • Yes, that's completely idiomatic
    – Evpok
    Nov 9, 2015 at 21:20
  • Pray tell what is the meaning of &zwnj Nov 9, 2015 at 21:22
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-width_non-joiner for padding. Apparently doesn't work
    – Evpok
    Nov 9, 2015 at 21:22

We have five senses, so I wouldn't limit myself to sound metaphors:

  • Ça sonne mieux (It sounds better)
  • Ça a l'air mieux (It looks better)
  • Ça paraît mieux (It appears better)
  • Ça semble mieux (It seems better)
  • Je le sens mieux (I feel better about this one)
  • Ça passe mieux (It fits better)
  • Ça convient mieux (It's more appropriate)
  • Ça fait mieux l'affaire (It fits the bill better)
  • C'est mieux (It's better)

In the sense of word choice, the literal translation is not appropriate. Instead, you may say "X convient mieux que Y".

If you refer to music, you may keep a literal translation, e.g. "X sonne mieux que Y" or say that "X est plus/moins mélodieux que Y" or "X est plus/moins harmonieux que Y".

Note: Depending on the verb (verbe d'état ou verbe d'action), the opposite of "mieux" is either "moins bien" or "pire". With "convenir", use "moins bien". With the auxiliary "être", use "pire", e.g. "X est pire que Y" or "X est le pire des deux".

  • 2
    Pour un choix de mots, il me semble que « convenir » n'a pas le même sens que « sonner » : le premier indique que le mot Y n'a pas le même sens que le mot X, et peut donc difficilement être utilisé ; le second indique que les deux mots sont corrects, mais que X semble plus naturel. Bref, certains mots « sonnent » mieux sans que l'on puisse vraiment expliquer pourquoi, alors que lorsqu'ils « conviennent » mieux, il existe une explication objective.
    – Blackhole
    Nov 10, 2015 at 0:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.