The English verbs 'to reply' and 'to answer' seen both to be often (or usually?) translated as 'répondre'. Are there alternative good translations which help to point out a little bit more the difference which is like 'react to a question' vs. 'give an answer to a question'?


1 Answer 1


The distinction between 'to reply' and 'to answer' does not exist in French, as you noticed. Therefore, you'd say:

J'ai répondu à sa lettre.

J'ai répondu à la question que m'a posée le professeur.

Le téléphone sonne, je vais répondre.

or even

Ils ont essayé de le réanimer mais le coeur ne répondait pas.

  • I'm not good at French, but what about "riposter"? Seems to focus on the act of countering (even in battle) and hence may be closer to "reply/respond" rather than "answer" (but then, so is répondre). Nov 24, 2020 at 15:10
  • 3
    @Peter-ReinstateMonica Riposter has a rather adversarial undertone. It would fit in the context of a debate or argument, but not really in regular conversation.
    – JS Lavertu
    Nov 24, 2020 at 15:50
  • This answer is right but i think you could have pointed out more clearly that the meaning "to answer" is coloquially represented by "répondre à la question". Nov 24, 2020 at 17:23
  • @JeremyGrand unless you answer the phone
    – vc 74
    Nov 24, 2020 at 19:25

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