I have consulted the dictionary but I can not get a clear response. What does: "Eh bien" mean in this context?

-On va au cinéma demain, Julie ?
-Demain, c'est quel jour ? Vendredi ?
-Oui, c'est ça. Le premier octobre.
-Non, je ne peux pas. Nous allons à la piscine, les enfants et moi.
-C'est dommage.

-Eh bien, tu sais, nager c'est bon pour la santé. Et les enfants adorent ça.

  • Eh bien peut ou bien exprimer une opposition ou bien une conséquence vis-à-vis de la phrase précédente. il faudrait donner un peu plus de contexte, au moins la phrase précédente.
    – P. O.
    Sep 16, 2016 at 12:23
  • 1
    OK, I have provided the previous sentences so you can get the context.
    – Astrid
    Sep 16, 2016 at 12:27
  • @Toto: thanks for helping out with the "ç":s.
    – Astrid
    Sep 16, 2016 at 12:41
  • 1
    You can translate it to 'Well, you know, swimming is healthy'
    – Weedoze
    Sep 16, 2016 at 12:45
  • @Random: Thanks for helping out.
    – Astrid
    Sep 16, 2016 at 13:02

2 Answers 2


"Eh Bien" here is used to show empathy. Julie knows that she has to spend time at the pool with her children and can't go to the movies. She also knows that it disappoints the person she talks to (C'est dommage).

Though, the sentence could keep its meaning without "Eh Bien". It shows Julie cares for the person she talks to.

In english I would use the word "well". But "Eh bien" is totally idiomatic, and I don't think there's a synonym in French for this.

Possible translation :

Well, you know, swimming is good for the health.


"Eh Bien" can have several other meanings too depending on the context. Top three cases i would use it for are :

Admiration :

"Eh bien, ce cuisinier est vraiment doué", "Woah, this cook is talented"

Irritation :

"Eh bien, tu es pas pressé", "Damn, you're not in a hurry"

It could be used alone too :

Ask someone for more information or to finish his/her sentence :

"La dernière fois je suis allé à Paris."

"Eh bien ?"

"Last time I went to Paris."

"So ?"

Other available here : https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/eh_bien


Additionally, in modern familiar, mostly spoken French, you can also encounter "Eh ben". Replacement can be "Dis donc". https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/dis_donc (mostly oral though), e.g.:

Dis donc, tu parles français comme si c'était ta langue maternelle !

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