Il est déjà descendu en bas de la colline?

Is it correct to also say:

Il est déjà descendu de la colline?

  • 1
    Some people will say descendre en bas is a pleonasm (just as monter en haut and must be avoided. A good point on the BDL – Laure Aug 27 '16 at 12:41
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    To @Laure: Speaking of redundancy, I found it interesting to hear "incessamment sous peu". Is this one of those instances where duality is allowed for emphatic purposes? Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 27 '16 at 16:29
  • @LUNA Incessamment sous peu is mostly used ironically, I would not say "it is allowed" and I would not advise you to use it in an academic essay. If you are interested in the subject of pleonasms here's an interesting article about pleonasms found frequently in the press - without the journalists being aware they are pleonasms. – Laure Aug 27 '16 at 17:03
  • @Laure La phrase du BDL « Alain a descendu en bas de la côte à toute vitesse pour aller leur porter secours. » me laisse perplexe... – jlliagre Aug 31 '16 at 21:46

It depends on the context.

  • Je descends en bas means that I'm going down a level.

  • Je descends quelqu'un means that I'm killing somebody.

It is also possible to say :

  • Je descends chercher un truc, i.e. I'm going [down a level] to look for some object.

As for your second question : Yes, it is correct. Descendre de la colline established that the hill is in an upper level than the destination.

Personally, I would use the second sentence to avoid redundancy. Adding "en bas" to the verb "descendre" is useful to clarify the context. If you have already a "complément circonstanciel de lieu" (de la colline) you don't need it to add "en bas".

  • in the first sentence, you may understand "en bas de la colline" as a place, and "descendre" as the verb. If you understand "descendre en bas" as the verb, and "la colline" as a place, indeed, it would be a pleonasm, don't you think ? – Random Aug 27 '16 at 16:22
  • I think you're right [ : That's a pleonasm. Syntax wise, I believe it's correct but you wouldn't need to specify "en bas" in a sentence containing the verb "descendre" as well as the "CCL", unless some broader context is at play. – randomhopeful Aug 27 '16 at 16:29
  • I don't see how you'd ever need to add en bas and even less how it could clear context. If you want to specify then you add a proper specification descendre au rez-de-chaussée/d'un étage/ à la cave etc. – Laure Aug 27 '16 at 18:51
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    I agree with you [ : And I feel I stressed enough the redundancy in employing "en bas" with "descendre". But to stay relevant to the question, I felt it would be inaccurate, even wrong, to tell OP : You must not use "en bas" when presence of verb "descendre". Pleonasms and, redundancy in general, are frowned upon but correct syntax wise. Also, broader contexts may exist (e.g dramatization) – randomhopeful Aug 27 '16 at 19:18
  • It's true, but if there is an adjective or a noun or anything after that sound weird after "En bas", it's false! – Arthur Guiot Sep 27 '16 at 4:14

"En bas", and equivalently "en haut", adds some reachability nuance.

In "Je descends en bas de la colline", it feels like it's going to take some time, because it's pretty far away.

In this sense, some people will laugh at you if you say "Je monte en haut" to mean "I'm coming upstairs", because "upstairs" is so reachable, precising it is useless.

However, if it's something unusual, "en haut" could be added without sounding odd, provided a context follows:

Je suis monté en haut de la Tour Eiffel.

Je suis descendu en bas de mon immeuble.

In the same way, adding "tout", to make "tout en haut" / "tout en bas" will remove any odd feeling, because it emphasis the fact that the destination is far away.

Je suis monté tout en haut des escaliers. (Very contextual, but can be heard)

Contrarily, using "monter" without "en haut", or "descendre" without "en bas" as well, makes feel that the destination is close. Typically, "monter sur" or "descendre de" are used for a chair, a horse...

Je suis monté sur la table.

Je suis descendu du cheval.


About your question:

Il est déjà descendu de la colline ?

feels a bit weird, unless the hill is small. I think a better phrasing would be:

Il est déjà redescendu de la colline ?

because "redescendre" sounds like "to come back (down)", which is more appropriate for something like a hill.

I'm french and I stop you ! Using the sentence "descendre en bas" cannot in any situation be correct ! Of course, you repeat 2 times the same idea : we call it "un pleonasme/ une redondance"

  • Why so many downvotes? I've never heard someone saying "je descends en bas" or "je monte en haut" without everyone around laughing because of the pleonasm. – Destal Sep 26 '16 at 12:41
  • "Descendre en bas" can also mean, "to go down topless". Furthermore, "Descendre en bas de la coline" means "To go down, at the bottom of the hill" whereas someone could stop at middle height of it. – Kii Sep 27 '16 at 8:27
  • @SimonDéchamps "Je descends en bas" is not great, but "Je descends en bas de la colline" is okay. – Najib Idrissi Sep 27 '16 at 9:33

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