En effet. Il s'agit d'une simple phase de négociation, pas de « harcèlement ».

I suppose that "là" is placed here for emphasis, like "THAT is merely part of a negotiation process". But I’m not sure when it is appropriate to use "là", as opposed to other emphasis expressions. Naturally, you cannot just throw in "là" left and right whenever you need a word for emphasis.

Compared to saying, for instance:

En effet. Il s'agit bien d'une simple phase de négociation, pas de « harcèlement ».

"Bien" is for agreeing with the interlocutor's point of view, while "là" is for countering an argument emphatically?

2 Answers 2


The literal meaning of "là" is "there": it contains the idea of pinpointing a more or less distant place. With language evolution, it becomes often substituted from "ici" ("here"), for example:

Tout le monde est là, nous pouvons commencer la réunion.

To pinpoint a temporal instant you can also use "là", but "ici" looks very old-fashioned, even if you are talking about here and now:

Voilà le plan: on s'infiltre par la cheminée, on attend que les parents s'endorment, et là on ouvre la porte ! (and then we open the door!)

-Essaie ce coussin. -J'ai toujours mal au dos. -Et si tu rajoutes une couverture ? -Là ça va mieux. (now it's better.)

Concerning your example, "là" is about a temporal pinpoint: it makes a link to the temporal localization of the negotiation. In this sense it is an emphasis.

You can use this emphasis in other sentences when you have this motivation about remembering the importance of the localization. It could be because the order of the actions is important (like if you are giving instructions), or because you want to emphasize the emergency of the present situation, or even (as it could be the case in your example) to remembers about the fact it won't last long so there is no need to worry.

There can be an ambiguity between if it is a spatial or temporal localization, so be careful about that. For example:

Elle entreprit un voyage vers la ville de XXX. Là elle croisa un vieil ami.

Could mean she encoutered an old friend at XXX, or while traveling to XXX. The first meaning sounds more natural, but the second is technically correct too.


Not exactly.

It means "there" or "in this particular situation". But you are right, the sentence meaning is nearly the same without.

It is more the 2nd meaning than the 9th.

It is used to emphase that there it is just negotiation but in another situation, it could be harassment.

  • 1
    To me the 1st example of the 9th meaning ("C’est là une belle action.") uses exactly the same meaning. The second meaning require that you are mentioning a literal place, which is not the case here. Nov 10, 2016 at 14:08
  • @AnneAunyme You can totally say "En effet. Il s'agit ici d'une simple phase de négociation, pas de « harcèlement »." and have the same meaning. The fact is, giving information about a 'place' -the place in where we talk about this particular subject-, you are making emphasis. 9th meaning seems to be dedicated to short sentence where you don't have a lot of context.
    – Yohann V.
    Nov 10, 2016 at 14:16
  • "C'est ici une belle action" makes as much sense. And no, here "là" is not a place, it's a phase of the negociation. Nov 10, 2016 at 14:25
  • @AnneAunyme No, it hasn't the same idiomatic meaning "Quelle belle action que voi !". I maintain it is a place, a figural place in where you have a particular way of acting that is not harassment unlikely as it seems, as much as there is temporal place "En ce temps là...".
    – Yohann V.
    Nov 10, 2016 at 14:29

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