1

I came across a phrase and I don't quite understand what is going on here.

à partir de ce moment-là

The phrase translates to 'From that moment (on)', but what I don't understand is: why is the 'là' in front of the noun and why does it have an accent. Couldn't you just say 'à partir de ce moment'?

2

À partir de ce moment could either mean from this moment on or from that moment on, since French ce doesn't distinguish between this and that.

To distinguish them, you use ci and ; ce moment-là means that moment and ce moment-ci means this moment (i.e., now). If you just say ce moment, it's ambiguous (although much of the time you can figure it out from context).

And the reason that has an accent is that it's a different word from la (although it has the same pronunciation). The accent is used to distinguish the two words.

0

Grammar rules are not the concern, meaning is what's relevant. but Let's see first the dictionary definition of this word (là) and that of a related one;

(TLFi) : Adverbe de lieu (plus rarement de temps) marquant le lieu où se trouve le locuteur ou un lieu plus ou moins éloigné de lui.

 

(TLFi) ci : Adverbe et particule dém. servant à indiquer la proximité dans l'espace ou le temps; (gén. joint par un trait d'union au mot qu'il détermine; cf. en outre celui-ci, ceci).

  • Il y a trois mois la machine est tombée en panne ; à partir de ce moment-là elle n'a jamais bien marché jusqu'à ce que Jean commence à s'en occuper; à partir de ce moment elle a retrouvé sont état normal et en raison de cela, à partir de ce moment-ci vous n'êtes plus en charge de la machine, c'est Jean qui s'en occupera. (user LPH)

You can use as well the adverbial particle "ci", but it has a different meaning: it's more or less equivalent to "à partir de maintenant". "À partir de ce moment" can can be used to refer to a time in the past or to the present moment. Therefore, as I see it, "là" could be dropped.

The optional nature of "là" is confirmed in the TLFi for the locution "à ce moment-là" (definition: alors, dans l'espace de temps considéré),and that locution is not very different (TLFi).

  • Julien, animé dans ce moment d'une force surhumaine, tordit un des chaînons de la chaîne qui retenait l'échelle. (Stendhal,Rouge et Noir,1830, p.358)
  • Nous demeurions en famille à ce moment-là, et nombreux. (Maupassant, Contes et nouv.,t.2, Mlle Perle, 1886, p.632)
  • Si je jette un coup d'œil sur mes souvenirs de cette fin de l'année 1914, j'y retrouve les impressions qui dominaient dans mon esprit à ce moment. (Joffre, Mém.,t.1, 1914, p.481)

As explained in the Wiktionary, this adverbial particle reinforces the demonstrative "ce".

I should add that the addition of "là" confers to me a certitude of the identity of the moment involved, the use of simply "à ce moment" not being as definite in that respect; this is possibly due in part to the common use of the locution "en ce moment", which means "now".

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