3

Very recently, I was present in a foreign language classroom where French was taught. I happened to be using the room as a workspace; I was not a student.

At the end of the lesson, I heard the teacher, who was probably not a native speaker, tell students to get in line in preparation for the transition to their next lesson by saying « En ligne ! ». This did not seem right to me. Firstly, my understanding is that « file » should be used rather than « ligne » when we are describing something like a queue; if I had to improvise and ask the students to be in line, I would have perhaps said « À la file ! ». Secondly, « en ligne » obviously means "on the internet" in common usage.

Was this French teacher's word choice correct at all? As I've explained, her word choice does not seem right to me, but given her profession, I would normally assume that she knows what she's saying.

0

3 Answers 3

3

"une file" is a queue, with the sense that people are walking one behind another (like in a waiting line or a traveling group in a mountainous path).

"une ligne" refers to things that are aligned, with a notion of order. It could be people beside one another to delimiter a perimeter for example, or soldiers lining up on the side of the path of their general for a salute.

There is overlap between the two notions, and that teacher may want students to form an ordered static line before then proceeding to leave.

From my school days I remember hearing "En rangs !" or "Rangez-vous (deux par deux) !": what was intended wasn't for pupils to walk one behind each other but rather to walk in pairs in a more-or-less ordered fashion as to avoid a rush when we would walk up the stairs to reach our class.

1
  • This makes sense, and it’s helpful to know what a native speaker teacher would in fact say.
    – Maroon
    Aug 23, 2023 at 17:53
6

Yes, nothing wrong with « En ligne ! ». It can be seen as a short form of « Mettez vous en ligne », which means "Get in line", "Form a line".

« À la file ! » doesn't really work. Grammatically you could say « En file ! » but it's not idiomatic. We rarely use the word alone, we would rather use « file indienne » instead (mostly with kids, it would be weird to say that to adults or even high schoolers.) An elementary school teacher could very well say « Allez tout le monde, en file indienne ! »

Another option that would work is « Faites la queue », though not the best here because it kind of implies there's already a queue and you're asking to just get in line at the end of it.

And « en ligne » does also mean "online", but here with context it's obvious the teacher is not asking the students to get on the internet.

1
  • I believe that the teacher wanted the students to line up. Thus, a native French teacher would have said "(Mettez-vous) en rang". Generally, assumed to be rows of 2 or 3 rather than a file or a line.
    – Graffito
    Aug 23, 2023 at 11:03
1

I believe that the teacher wanted the students to line up. Thus, a native French teacher would have said "(Mettez-vous) en rang". Generally, assumed to be rows of 2 or 3 rather than a file or a line. (Graffito, en commentaire sous licence CC BY-SA)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.