This phrase has never made much sense to me. It's a 2nd-person plural imperative followed by a 1st/2nd person singular non-imperative.

I understand it to me "C'mon, let's go!" but it's not clear to me how this term makes any sense grammatically, or how it could have originated idiomatically.

Moreover I'm not clear if it's appropriate to say to someone you use tu for, or for someone you use vous for, or for a group, or some subset of the above, or just for everyone, etc.

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    Interesting, it seems that the two expressions use the same two verbs, just in a different order. But in fact "allez" is used as an interjection. You can't consider it as a verb (even though it certainly comes from it) because it is used for any person or group of persons, or animals for it matters. Apr 14 '16 at 23:18
  • But what about the conjugation of viens then? And can you use them separately, just like in English? It would be equally normal in English to say "C'mon let's go!" / "C'mon!" / "Let's go!" Apr 14 '16 at 23:26
  • “Viens” is an imperative. You shoud use “venez” to address a group of people or with the formal vous. And yes you can use “Allez” alone for “Come on”, or “Viens (avec moi)” alone, but it sounds more like a (friendly) request than like a suggestion such as “Let's go”. Apr 14 '16 at 23:42

Here "allez" is an interjection translating the impatience of the locutor. It comes from the imperative of "aller", of course, but here it is only used for his interjection value. A good example of an interjection in English is "c'mon", as one can say "C'mon, why is this happening to me ?" without anyone wanted to come actually.

"viens" is a real imperative of the verb "venir", it means you want the person you a talking with to come.


Usually the verb represents a movement, the fact of going somewhere, or about to do something.
Here, the verb is used in its imperative form to represent a wish, exhortation, threat or indignation.

The following wiki page has more detailed information on it. "À l’impératif, sert également à faire des souhaits, des exhortations ou des menaces et à marquer de l’indignation." https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/aller

Hope that helped.


Very interesting note, it's queer, as you stress it, to juxtapose two imperative forms having opposite meanings (to go is the opposite of to come) and juxtaposing also two differents persons ("tu" and "vous").

In fact, it shows that the expression "Allez!" has shifted its original meaning towards the fact that we use it to take the lead on the person(s) to whom we are talking. Then after having caught their (or his) attention, we can give an order, which can be of any kind, including to come, though we first seemed to give the opposite order to go, which in fact we did not.

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