I ran into the above expression in Antonin Varenne's novel Battues, which also contains another example of similar usage of pour:

[Le médecin] m'a dit pour les examens et pour [le commandant].

Evidently pour is synonymous to au sujet de in these sentences. However, I haven't found this type of usage documented in any dictionary.

Gabriel Wyler's manual is the only place where I found a few more examples of this usage along with the mention that it's a Swiss French expression. Antonin Varenne is a French author, however, and at least I didn't notice any other conspicuous regionalisms in his text.

Can it be deduced that this usage of pour is common at least in some parts of France? And what interests me most, would it be frowned upon by a speaker of standard Parisian French?

  • 3
    I have never set foot in Switzerland nor can I recall having even spoken French with anyone from Switzerland, but j'ai appris pour [x] is something I'd associate with "normal" French, even sophisticated French.
    – Law29
    Apr 16, 2017 at 17:02
  • 5
    It is documented in dictionaries, e.g. TLF C and commonly used in France.
    – None
    Apr 16, 2017 at 17:21
  • 4
    It is commonly used by french Canadians as well.
    – Phil
    Apr 16, 2017 at 20:14
  • 5
    Very common in France indeed.
    – Destal
    Apr 16, 2017 at 22:27
  • @Laure Yes, I'm aware that pour in the sense "à propos de, au sujet de" is documented in TLF C but none of the examples given matches the pattern verb pour qch. But anyway, I'm glad to hear it's a common expression in France.
    – mlj
    Apr 16, 2017 at 23:36

2 Answers 2


This is marked as spoken language. It is quite common. I would also argue that it's informal.

Even if you take /pour/ to mean /au sujet de/, which it does here, there is something "left out". Putting in /au sujet de/ here for /J'ai appris au sujet de ton père/ is not even grammatical. And the /pour/ used like this is grammatical only in speech. And, /j'ai appris pour ton père/ is only grammatical in speech.

You would not see in a formal text: /L'institution a été informer pour les livres/. To mean: /L'institution a été informé que les livres seront livré par coursier/. In this example, /pour/ stands in for the entire idea of the books being delivered by messenger.

But, you might hear someone say that.

pour + noun or pronoun can stand for any number of contexts or co-texts that are not in the actual utterance.

In /Le médecin m'a dit pour les examens/, therefore one has to know what the context is. Here, it's not: The doctor told me about the tests or exams. It's something like: /The doctor told me that tests were being done or needed to be done or were done/.

Only a wider context will make it clear exactly.

With apprendre, here, for instance, it's /J'ai appris que votre père est mort ou est décédé [or apprendre la mort de ton]/ or something like that. Using the pour becomes a way to avoid having to say: /I was informed or learned of the death of your father/.

Contextually, the /pour/ + /noun or pronouns/ can replace an entire context or idea.

In English, /J'ai appris pour votre père/ would be: /About your father, I heard/. Or /I heard about your father/. The funny thing here is that in English, /I heard about your father/ is completely standard both in speech and in writing, and the spoken French aspect is lost since there's not really any way to render it in the marked sense of spoken language.

[Kindly do not remove the slashes. I have re-edited myself for how I want the text to read. Thank you for your cooperation.]


There's an idiom that uses pour in a similar way:

Pour X, ça X.

where the second X can be a superlative version of X. An example in English might be

You wanna talk about rain, it's chucking it down right now.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.