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J'ai toujours du mal à distinguer les mots "comme" et "comment". Est-ce qu'il y a quelqu'un qui peut me donner une bonne explication avec des exemples ? Merci d'avance!

closed as off-topic by Laure, Toto, Jylo, Luke Sawczak, Evpok Mar 13 '17 at 7:59

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  • "Please look up the meaning of words or expressions in a dictionary first. If you did so and found nothing satisfactory, mention that in your question. Do give context for where you heard or saw the word." – Laure, Toto, Jylo, Luke Sawczak, Evpok
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    What's your native language? If I'd translate them quickly in English without context, I'd say that "comme" = "like/as", and "comment" = "how". – Larme Mar 11 '17 at 17:57
  • Qu'est-ce que vous ne comprenez pas après avoir regarder dans un dictionnaire ? What didn't you understand after you looked it up in a dictionary? Vous devriez donner au moins une phrase en contexte avec où vous ne comprenez pas l'emploi de, ces mots. – Laure Mar 11 '17 at 18:49
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As Larme writes, the basic translations are:

Comment : how or pardon (as in excuse me)

Comment ça va? How are you?

Comment as-tu fait cela? How did you do that?

Comment? Je n'ai pas compris. Pardon? I didn't understand.

Comme : as or like or since (as in because)

Elle court vite comme un cheetah. She runs fast as a cheetah.

Ces animaux-ci sont comme les autres. These animals are like the others.

Comme il avait faim, il a mangé une pomme. Since he was hungry, he ate an apple.

Luckily, these are pretty reliable meanings and should be okay to tell apart. (Although sometimes my students have trouble knowing which sense to translate between "like" and "since", for example.)

If the difficult is how to tell them apart by ear, the pronunciations are also distinct. "Comme" is one syllable, pretty much like English word "come". Whereas "comment" is two syllables and sounds more like "Come on!" without the "n". The stress is on the second syllable.

If you're still not sure how to tell them apart, please clarify what kinds of situations you have trouble in!


Edit: Since this was chosen as the answer I'll just synthesize the two points that others made in here.

  1. Kodoyosa mentions that the question "How?" (Comment) can be answered "Like this" (Comme ça), which can lead to some confusion. But notice that the individual words are still translated "how" and "like" respectively.

  2. jlliagre mentions that in the idiomatic expression "Comme tu es belle !" (or "Comme c'est dur !", etc.) it's not unusual to translate it "How beautiful you are!" This "how" means something like "You're astonishingly beautiful!"

  3. As an afterthought, don't forget that in questions beginning with "How many", "How much", "How long", "How hard", etc., neither word is actually suitable. So the relationship is not 1:1.

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1. Comment

Comment = How

This works here:

How do we do that? Comment fait-on ça ?

But it doesn't work as well when "how" isn't for a question:

This is how we do it!

This can be translated:

C'est comme ça que l'on fait !

or you can use "comment", but it's less usual:

Voilà comment on fait !


2. Comme ça (ça = "something")

But "comme ça" (or "comme cela") is usually for:

Like this! Like that!

Now take the previous example:

This is how we do it!

That is (almost) the same as:

We do it like that!

It can be translated:

C'est comme ça que l'on fait !

or

On fait comme ça.


3. Comme

"Comme" that isn't followed by something (or somebody) is used for "as":

Come as you are ! Viens comme tu es !


I think I'm correct. I hope I understood your struggle.

  • I like that this answer reveals the overlap — that the answer to the question "How?" (Comment) is often "Like this!" (Comme ça). Thanks for this angle! – Luke Sawczak Mar 11 '17 at 18:52
  • Comme tu es belle ! = Que tu es belle ! = "How beautiful you are!" – jlliagre Mar 11 '17 at 19:08
  • Oh, true! Also a good example. – Luke Sawczak Mar 11 '17 at 20:04

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