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I have a question on grammar.

I know that “il nous aideront tous” can mean “they will help us all”. (There are examples on the Internet). Can it mean “they all will help us”? Like in “ils le savent tous” (“they all know it”)…

I searched both this site and Google by “the position of tous” and variations, but I didn't find anything on the subject…

Thank you.

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There is an ambiguity,

  • Ils vont tous nous aider means “they will all help us”, and it's the best way to say it.

  • Tous nous aideront is acceptable but it's formal or poetic.

  • Ils vont nous aider tous would mean “they will help us all”, but it's a really rare use (français classique).

  • Ils nous aideront tous can mean “they all will help us” and “they will help us all”, but the second one is counter-intuitive.

One particular use is without ambiguity:

  • Ils nous aideront tous autant que nous sommes: “they will help us all, as many as we are.”

The best way to avoid any ambiguity would be :

Ils aident chacun d'entre nous.
Chacun d'entre eux nous aide.

And it works with any tense.

  • Thank you very much, very exhaustive! May I ask a follow-up? If the tense is present (il nous aident tous), is there a way to get rid of the ambiguity for one and for the other sense? PS: I recall having encountered the word “counter-intuitive” many times, though I am not a native. – Evgeniy Nov 14 '17 at 21:08
  • It's based on personnal experiment but, weirdly, "ils nous aident tous" wil always be understood as "they all help us" as in "ils nous viennent tous en aide". – John Gardenal Nov 14 '17 at 21:25
  • Thank you, very helpful! (PS: l'expérience personnelle => personal experience, in this case; an experiment is something you do in physics, for example, it's one instance…) – Evgeniy Nov 14 '17 at 21:30
  • experiment / experience I get it now, thanks ;) – John Gardenal Nov 14 '17 at 21:32
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I'm a french men : « ils nous aideront tous » can mean “they will help us all” : it's OK.

The position of tous in this case is always after the verb. examples : Ils chantent tous ensemble (they sing all together).

Mes voisins sont gentils. Je les embrasse tous.(My neighbors are nice. I kiss them all.)

Let's see then second sentence : “they all will help us” : if you translate in french, you have ils nous aideront tous : OK

Now, Tous can be a (or a part of subject) examples : Mes amis sont intelligents. Tous ont réussis. (my friends are smart. all of them have succeeded.)

Tous les français boivent beaucoup de vin. (All French people drink a lot of wine).

Better example here https://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais/traduction/tous+savent.html ( example with tous savent (everybody knows))

Sorry for my bad english.....

  • Sorry for the fact I addressed you in English, rather! And thank you for your examples. – Evgeniy Nov 14 '17 at 21:37
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La phrase est ambiguë. "Tous" peut se rattacher à Ils (sujet) ou nous (objet direct). Il est difficile d'expliciter des pronoms personnels, surtout lorsqu'ils sont placés avant le verbe. Pour lever l'ambiguïté, il faut expliciter :

1) le sujet : Eux tous nous aideront. / Tous nous aideront. (meilleure solution : la plus simple)/ Chacun d'entre eux nous aidera.

2) le c.o.d. : Ils nous aideront nous tous. /Ils aideront chacun d'entre nous (meilleure solution) / Ils nous aideront, chacun d'entre nous.

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