Cette idée ne les a vraiment pas emballés.


Cette idée ne les a pas vraiment emballés.

I wonder if the difference in meaning between "really not" and "not really" in English applies to French as well.

  • La première version insiste sur le pas, elle rejette l'idée, la seconde qui indique que l'idée n'est pas acceptée, mais qu'elle n'est pas obligatoirement rejetée.
    – Personne
    Feb 19, 2016 at 18:07
  • 1
    "vraiment pas" is strong, and "pas vraiment" is soft :)
    – Random
    Feb 19, 2016 at 18:17
  • Yes. On a sidenote, there is a case "really" doesn't translate as "vraiment", and it's when it means "actually" : "*I thought he was ... but he was really ...". In that case you say "en fait" (casual), or "en réalité" (a little more formal). Dec 15, 2016 at 9:30

2 Answers 2


Yes. “Pas vraiment” means that the statement is more false than true, it can mean “to a small extent” or it can be a weak “not” (literally, it refutes “vraiment” which would be an intensifier). “Vraiment pas” insists on the negation. The distinction is the same as in English: “pas vraiment” = “not really”, “vraiment pas” = “really not”.


@Gilles has the answer nailed, but I think the reasoning behind it bears mentioning. In this case:

Cette idée ne les a vraiment pas emballés.

the word vraiment is acting as an adverb to the word pas. Therefore, graphically, it would have to be represented as:

( vraiment -> pas ) -> emballés


Cette idée ne les a pas vraiment emballés.

where vraiment is acting as a defining adverb of emballés. Therefore, the graphic representation of that would be:

vraiment -> ( pas -> emballés )

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