"On the other side" seems to be translated as "de l'autre côté."


  1. Am I correct in understanding that "Je suis de l'autre côté" could mean both "I am on the other side [and still am]" and "I am from the other side [but am now here]"?

  2. Moreover, there does not seem to be any distinction regarding going to the other side or from the other side. For instance, it seems "Je vais de l'autre côté" can mean either "I go to the other side" or "I go from the other side."

  3. After searching on Google and Linguee, it seems that "à l'autre côté" is not used at all.

Is my above understanding correct? Any verification and additional commentary would be much appreciated. Thank you!

  • 1
    1 the first translation seems correct to me. However I would translate the second sentence “I am from the other side” as Je viens de l’autre côté. 2 the verb “venir” clarifies the difference between to and from Oct 19, 2021 at 19:33
  • 1
    I would only translate "I am from the other side" by je viens de l'autre côté in the context you give in 1. *Je vais de l'autre côté" only means "I go to the other side". *À l'autre côté" does sound weird indeed, can't think of a context in which it would be used
    – None
    Oct 19, 2021 at 19:44
  • @None D'accord, I see that "aller" has a sense of "going [away]," so "Je vais de l'autre côté" should be "to" and not "from." What if the verb was "passer" instead? "Je passe de l'autre côté." Is it the same thing ("to the other side" and not "from the other side")? So the notion of "from" in English can only be created using "venir" in this context?
    – angryavian
    Oct 19, 2021 at 20:02
  • Je passe de l'autre côté. Maybe I'd add "over" to render passer : "I go (am going) over the other side". Yes, you've got it, de goes with venir (aller à & venir de. Just like in English it's "go to" and "come from".
    – None
    Oct 19, 2021 at 20:09
  • @None Thank you. So it seems "aller de l'autre côté" is an isolated exception to the general "aller à" construction?
    – angryavian
    Oct 19, 2021 at 20:31

2 Answers 2


De l'autre côté must be seen as unit/a phrase consisting of a preposition (de) + a noun phrase (l'autre côté). I would call it a syntagme prépositionnel where de does not indicate the origin in space.

You cannot have two prepositions following one another1 and since de l'autre côté is a unit and cannot be broken down, no other preposition is used.

Since in "de l'autre côté" de does not indicate the origin in space the verb on its own carries the position or the direction: je suis/je vais/je viens...de l'autre côté.

This is by far not an exception where aller is not followed by à when followed by a complement of place, it is always the case when the complement of place is introduced by a preposition: aller en haut, aller sur la lune, aller dans les bois, aller sous l'eau...

1Whereas in English this is possible, e.g. "get onto to the other side"

  • 1. Are the prepositions in your last paragraph (en haut, sur la lune, etc.) also syntagmes prépositionnels? 2. Do you have any other examples of "de" as a syntagme prépositionnel where it does not indicate the origin in space?
    – angryavian
    Oct 20, 2021 at 14:52
  • @angryavian I'm not a grammarian and I'm not sure I can distinguish a syntagme prépositionnel from a locution prépositive or locution adverbiale, all I can observe is they interact in the same way with rest of the sentence in the way they form a semantic unit. Off my head with aller and de I can think of aller de l'avant. sur la lune *dans les bois.
    – None
    Oct 20, 2021 at 16:14
  • Merci beaucoup !
    – angryavian
    Oct 20, 2021 at 18:25

In the context that is considered in the query, "côté" has the particular meaning of surface, space, or part; in the spoken language it takes on often a conventional meaning that depends on the context; for instance, in the context of two contiguous bedrooms "de l'autre côté" may mean "in the other bedroom".

(TLFi) a) [En parlant d'une partie de l'espace située de part ou d'autre d'une ligne concrète ou idéale qui partage un domaine] Partie.
(Quasi-)synonyme direction, espace, région.

1/ No, in a plain literal context, it is not correct;

  • Je suis de l'autre côté.
    I am on the other side (This is applicable to the plain literal sense of being, that is, when "to be" applies to position. Of course, when you say that, you don't have to occupy the spot you are talking about.)

ex.: — Tu es dans la rangée de droite en classe ?
— Non, je suis de l'autre côté.

  • I am from the other side. (This is applicable, for instance to someone's place of belonging if there is a notion of clear division; in French, you would not say "je suis de l'autre côté" to means that you belong there. )

ex.: — Vous avez donc résidé toute votre vie au sud de la Loire …
— Non, je vis de l'autre côté, à Angers. (No, I am from the other side, from Angers.)
or — Non, je suis du côté nord de la Loire, je suis d'Angers.

Possibly, there are cases when the "from" rendering is proper, but I know of none.

2/ There is no distinction on one condition: you must add a complement: "de l'autre côté à qqc".

  • Je vais de l'autre côté quand il fait froid. (This means always that the person goes to the other side)

  • Je vais de l'autre côté au côté le plus éloigné. (Not the usual context of "two sides". The motion is from this side that is called "other side" to yet another side. However, there is not much of a case for this type of usage because "de l'autre côté" is used almost exclusively to provide an "easy" term for the seconde part of a group of two locations that are next to one another and are similar in some way (livingroom/parlour, shop/storage room, vegetable garden/flower garden, …)

3/ "Vais à l'autre côté", "va à l'autre côté", "vont à l'autre côté", "allé à l'autre côté", "aller à l'autre côté" are not used (ngram); the examples corresponding to "aller à l'autre côté" are false positives. This shows that the verb "aller" is not used with "à l'autre côté".

Do not conclude, however, that "à l'autre côté" is never meaningful, though.

  • Il faut fixer cette pièce à l'autre côté, pas celui-ci. ("…côté du support de la machine", par exemple; "côté" is more likely to be something line-like in the present example, but in other cases it does not have to be, it can still be a surface or a space.)
  • 1
    Je vais de l'autre côté au côté le plus éloigné est contradictoire, Autre côté implique qu'il n'y a que deux côtés mais le côté le plus éloigné serait un troisième côté.
    – jlliagre
    Oct 19, 2021 at 22:48
  • @jlliagre Non, il n'y a pas de contradiction, mais comme je le dis, les contextes de cette sorte sont rares ; (une parcelle à six côtés, des arpenteurs, un choix entre deux côtés, rectification, non pas ce côté, de l'autre, et au côté le plus éloigné de celui-ci)
    – LPH
    Oct 20, 2021 at 7:26
  • Je vois ce que tu veux dire, yet another side. Introduire un troisième côté alors qu'on traite une expression qui implique qu'il n'y en a que deux n'est à mon avis pas une bonne idée pour expliquer ladite expression.
    – jlliagre
    Oct 20, 2021 at 10:09
  • 1
    côté ne veut pas dire "surface, space or part". côté veut dire side. L'autre côté de la medaille: the other side of the coin. Idioms.
    – Lambie
    Oct 20, 2021 at 15:13
  • 1
    The main meaning in the question is side. And especially, for the OP's question. De côté de chez Swann, Swann's Way. So, yes, it can mean a bunch of things. In your example, de l'autre côté can mean the other side of the house. Unless of course, you mean: dans la pièce à côté, in which case, it's the next room or the adjacent room. Next?
    – Lambie
    Oct 20, 2021 at 16:06

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