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I've used google translate and these expressions both mean "let's go".

I don't get how "c'est parti" means "let's go", and I also don't get the difference between the two expressions, if there's any difference at all.

Secondly, is there a better place where I can learn French expressions in context? Merci d'avance.

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  • As for a better place than this to learn French, yes there is: books by French authors with or w/out assistance from Google Translate; songs & rap in French with their lyrics; YT videos from French producers, preferably with French subtitles or w/out subtitles. In short, any text written or spoken in French, provided you have fun listening to it or reading it. Commented May 20 at 18:53

3 Answers 3

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I would translate C'est parti by "Let the fun begin", "On the road again", "Off we set" or, à la Arnold, "I'm back".
Added after comments. In the same circumstances, the ritual call in the Anglo-American culture is "Here we go" as @MichaelSeifert observed. I'd want s/th more colorful because it misses the mock solemnity of the French announcement. Moreover, as the other answers observed, WE are not necessarily going ahead when we say C'est parti; in contrast to "Here WE go". So, maybe s/th like "All clear, cranking up" or just "Action!".

In contrast, Allons-y is quite literally "Let's go [there, meaning wherever y points to]".

The language registers are different, too. Both expressions are spoken French because they leave implicit what the demonstrative pronouns c' and y denote. However, C'est parti is a wee bit colloquial because it suggests, playfully or earnestly, some rough and manly action lies ahead in wait or, at least, an elaborate rigmarole is set in motion; whereas Allons-y is safe even in the poshest contexts.

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    Would "here we go" be another possible translation? Commented May 20 at 22:49
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    Tes traductions sont trop pleines de sous-entendus et de références :-)
    – Frank
    Commented May 21 at 0:11
  • Pourtant j'ai omis "The time is now" et "Thunderbirds are Go". Commented May 21 at 11:29
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Both expressions often overlap but a difference is that you are necessarily included in the group with Allons-y (more often expressed as On y va nowadays) while you might not be part of it with C'est parti.

There is also a small difference in timing because allons-y normally precedes the departure while c'est parti signals or follows it.

'Let's go!' is the imperative form of the verb 'to go' so its direct literal translation is allons ! One issue is that Allons ! alone has a different meaning so we add the pronoun y (allons-y, literally 'let's go there') to match 'let's go'.

C'est parti literally translates to 'it has departed'. Depending on the context, it might be translated to different expressions in English.

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  • but that's not a rule right? because the first time I've heard "c'est parti" the person who said it was included in the group
    – Aueriga
    Commented May 20 at 16:34
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    @Aueriga Precisely. The reason why I wrote might.
    – jlliagre
    Commented May 20 at 18:20
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    To me, a native French speaker, "allons-y" is more an incentive to start something, while "c'est parti" is more an indication that the action has started. If people don't respond, in the first case they delay the action, in the second they miss it. You can say "c'est parti" for "let's go", it puts more pressure by implying you don't have a choice.
    – Florian F
    Commented May 21 at 7:05
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    @FlorianF Yes, that's what I try to express in my second paragraph.
    – jlliagre
    Commented May 21 at 7:10
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Their grammatical difference directly reflects their difference in meaning.

  • "Allons-y" is present imperative, first person plural: an order or suggestion to a group that includes the speaker. It translates to "let's go";
  • "C'est parti" is past indicative, third person: an observation about something that just happened. It translates to "it has begun".

Although "C'est parti" is past tense, it's talking about something that recently begun, so it's still about present events.

Of course in many contexts you can replace one with the other, and a translator might choose to translate them both as "let's go" or both as "the show is on the road."

But I see the following differences:

  • "Allons-y" is more active, since it's an order and first-person and means the speaker is about to take action, whereas "C'est parti" is more passive, since it's a third-person observation and the events that have just begun might or might not involve the speaker;
  • "C'est parti" suggests that something (exciting or awaited?) has just been set in motion, whereas "Allons-y" carries no such presupposition and can apply equally to something mundane or something exciting.

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