I read this in a short story:

Peut-être, actuellement, précisément parce qu'elle l'avait égaré son agenda, était-elle coupée du monde et ne pouvait-elle plus communiquer avec certains amis...

Could that 'l' before 'avait' be a pronoun referencing 'son agenda'? I haven't read enough to know if this kind of duplication happens in French.

  • 2
    l' definitely refers to agenda. This makes sense only if agenda has been mentioned just before (you are not quoting enough) and in that case the redundancy would be meant to obtain a stylistic effect. If there is no mention of the agenda before then the sentence would be weird.
    – None
    Jun 13, 2023 at 15:28
  • 1
    Yes, that's it.
    – None
    Jun 13, 2023 at 15:42
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    It would be better with a comma after égaré if you wanted to use that l' for a stylistic effect. Doesn't coupé need to be coupée here?
    – Frank
    Jun 13, 2023 at 16:00
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    Which short story is this from? Without a comma after égaré, the l' could just be a mistake. Dislocation is frequent in colloquial French but the rest of the sentence is rather formal. Actuellement also sounds odd. Jun 14, 2023 at 8:29
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    @guillaume31 The story is Des nouvelles de l'entrée de l'enfer by Eric Faye, as printed in Great French Short Stories of the Twentieth Century (Dover Publications). If there is printing error here, it wouldn't be the first contained in the book.
    – Tom Adair
    Jun 15, 2023 at 8:04

1 Answer 1


This is a figure of speech called dislocation. It's more common in conversation than in written text. Children often use it.

Here is part of an article on emphasis and where dislocation is described:

Par dislocation, un constituant de la phrase est détaché en tête ou en fin de phrase et repris ou annoncé par un pronom. Le constituant détaché occupe la place du thème, le reste de la phrase forme le propos. La dislocation permet de prendre comme thème de la phrase un autre élément que le sujet grammatical. Le sujet est a priori le thème de la phrase canonique.

A couple of examples found on that page:

– Ces montagnes, elles sont magnifiques. (le pronom a la fonction de sujet)
– Ce livre, je le trouve passionnant. (le pronom a la fonction de COD)
– Qu'allait-on en faire, de cet homme ? (le pronom a la fonction de COI)

Here's an article on Projet Voltaire discussing whether the dislocation of the subject is a figure of speech or a mistake.

And an article on wikipedia.

  • Not a big fan of dislocation as a style.
    – Frank
    Jun 14, 2023 at 2:12

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