"Simplement" and "tout simplement" both translate to the English "just" or "simply". This answer also mentions that the two are quite similar.

Are the two always interchangeable, or are there cases where we can only use one but not the other? Is one more formal than the other?

C'est simplement inacceptable.

C'est tout simplement inacceptable.

  • tout simplement is more emphatic: This is simply unacceptable. This is quite simply, unacceptable.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 23:08

2 Answers 2


It's only a difference of emphasis and/or style. Both are completely correct, in writing as well as in spoken language. I could come up with another expression that uses "tout" in a similar fashion: "tout betement".

Il s’est bêtement trompé de rue.

Il s’est tout bêtement trompé de rue.

and actually, the second one would be quite similar to:

Il s'est tout simplement trompé de rue.

The first one... might put a bit more emphasis, through "bêtement", on the fact that it was a silly mistake, which IMHO is less the case in "tout bêtement".

Note also, that this construction does not necessarily work with other adverbs.

Quite frankly → tout franchement franchement

Quite clearly → tout clairement très clairement


There is an emphasis in "tout simplement". For negative meanings, it usually implies a strong disagreement by the locutor/writer.

  • speaker/writer, a locuteur is a speaker.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 23:07

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