I said to my friend:

Quand je vous vois comme ça, s'entendre si bien l'un avec l'autre, il m’arrive de me dire que ça doit ressembler à ça d’avoir un mariage heureux. Et moi qui dis toujours que ça n'en vaut pas le coup !

I intended the first « ça » to serve as a placeholder subject for the part « d’avoir un mariage heureux » and the second one to mean "(like) that", referring to « ce que je venais de voir ».

I sometimes find myself doing this in spontaneous conversation, but I wonder if it is good style to use « ça ... ça » or « ce ... ça » like this in close proximity to one another? Does it leave some room for confusion as to what each « ça » stands for?

  • In the same vein as @xhaltar's answer, I think it would strain the parser a little to recognize that the first ça is not an expletive subject without a semantic referent (like "it" in "It looks like that") but a pronoun whose antecedent, avoir un mariage heureux, is forthcoming. And the misreading as expletive subject would make it an unusual or wrong place to use ça, I think. Hence the awkwardness. (The second ça is fine since its antecedent, the way the people relate, is obvious by this point.)
    – Luke Sawczak
    May 25, 2017 at 12:57
  • @LukeSawczak Hi. I'm not sure if this serves as a counter argument, but anyway here goes! I can easily imagine myself saying something like the following, with the « ce » and « ça » referring to what comes before and after them respectively. What's your take on this one? May 25, 2017 at 13:33
  • That's a more likely example, because ce can be an expletive subject but ça can't or is less usual (to my knowledge), so ce works better here. But note that both the pronouns have clear antecedents anyway, so it's easier to read: ce refers to être... which came before it, and ça refers to what immediately follows it. (Whereas in your original sentence, the first ça has to skip over the verb phrase to get to its antecedent, avoir...)
    – Luke Sawczak
    May 25, 2017 at 13:39
  • What I would definitely say is that ce n'est pas ça in your second sentence is a great example for the original topic of the question: since ça n'est pas ça would technically be valid because each ça has a real antecedent, which one is more natural? And I think we would probably all agree that ce n'est pas ça rolls of the tongue more easily. :)
    – Luke Sawczak
    May 25, 2017 at 13:41
  • 2
    What about three? “Ça, ça donne ça” sounds perfectly normal to me. May 25, 2017 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


This is not a mistake, however, this would maybe seem a little strange to some people. Using two ça is not an incorrect way of saying things.

You could also say :

[...] il m'arrive de me dire que c'est cela, avoir un mariage heureux [...]

[...] il m'arrive de me dire que c'est à ça que ressemble un mariage heureux [...]

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