On Armistice day I think the French say “on se souvient d’eux” which puts the emphasis on them rather than on us remembering now and in the future should it be “nous nous souviendrons d’eux” ?

2 Answers 2


The future of

On se souvient d'eux

is simply:

On se souviendra d'eux.

The future form with nous (nous nous souviendrons d’eux) is not incorrect but, like its present tense form nous nous souvenons d'eux, is more formal and has mostly disappeared from spoken French.


On Armistice day, the French say “on se souvient d’eux”, but this is said, or occasionally written, rather informally. Also, this does not put "the emphasis on them rather than on us remembering now", in fact, the most common context is not that of "an emphasis on them" (which is apparently not part of the reality), but that of "présent d'ordre général", otherwise called "présent de vérité générale" (in English, state present) (ref.).
Occasionally the "présent d'énonciation" (also called "présent d'actualité") is used and in that case the sense of "se souvenir" might not be the one presently discussed, that is, not the following.

II. − Empl. pronom.
E. − P. méton. Manifester qu'on n'a pas oublié.
e) Se souvenir d'un fait du passé. Tenir compte d'un fait du passé, en tirer les conséquences.

Instead, it'll be the plain meaning.

II. − Empl. pronom.
A. − Qqn/qqc. se souvient de qqc./qqn/que. Avoir, garder, se remettre en mémoire.

  • On se souviens d'eux du fait que notre éducation les a rendus importants dans l'image que l'on se fait de notre vie, de notre société, on se souviens d'eux parce qu'ils sont inéluctablement associés à un passé qui est la seule explication de quelque chose qui est vital pour nous dans la société moderne.

In the future it should be “nous nous souviendrons d’eux” in formal speeches and in formal text. In everyday language what is almost exclusively used is "on se souviendra d'eux" (This latter fact is found initially in user jlliagre's answer).

Nevertheless, in the formal speeches such as those delivered on the occasion of the eleventh of November, this plain formulation is found to be somewhat terse and more elaborate language is used. Here are only a few possibilities; I believe there is no end to the set of formulas that can be conceived in the way of expressing this thought.

  • leur souvenir restera cher à notre pensée

  • leur souvenir se perpétuera longtemps dans nos mémoires

  • leur souvenir demeurera gravé dans nos mémoires

  • leur souvenir ne s'effacera pas de nos mémoires

  • nous conserverons longtemps leur souvenir

  • leur souvenir vivra longtemps dans nos mémoires

  • leur souvenir restera vivant dans nos cœurs

(TLFi) souvenir subst.
I. − Au sing. [Avec l'art. déf.]

  1. Fait, action de se souvenir; résultat de l'action. a) 2. P. méton. Manifestation de cette action. Synon. pensée

There is some difficulty in the reading of "leur souvenir"; this is not meant to say "le souvenir que ces gens ont" but "le souvenir que l'on a de ces gens".

Very metaphorical is the following manner to express "nous nous souviendrons d'eux", but it is limited to a particular context, that is, it will not do for any speech. (ref.)

  • leur souvenir marchera devant nous

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  • Yes, I think you’ve well understood my point that “ on se souviens d’eux”is simply not enough in the context of remembering them when the sun goes down and in the morning and even the same in the future tense or nous form does not express the gravity of what we are saying in English so as you say it may be best to express it in an altogether different way. Thank you
    – Sregor
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 4:08

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