How do I distinguish à cette heure from à sept heures, when pronounced?

It occurred to me when once I wanted to say "at this time", and then I realized I had just said "at 7". I guess I probably should have used "en ce moment", right?


Generally, when referring to "at this time", we can also say À cette heure-ci, […].

Plus, À cette heure all alone sounds weird to me, I don't know.

En ce moment is right too though.

  • Oh ok, thanks. À cette heure couold be used when describing an event, like in a newspaper. "At that time (hour), the policemen broke into the building" – Ricky Robinson May 27 '13 at 8:38

There should not be any ambiguity actually.

If during the conversation, a time was explicitly mentioned, people will understand à cette heure :

— On se retrouve dimanche matin vers huit heures?

— Oh là, à cette heure je serai encore au lit!

However, if you mention a time just out of the blue, it will be clear you mean à sept heures

— On se retrouve dimanche matin?

— À sept heures, ça te va?

Also, note that, in a rather formal or litterary context, à cette heure can also mean right now.

  • I find the first example much more ambiguous than any other I could have thought. How do you know that the guy didn't mean "at 7 I'll still be in bed"? – Ricky Robinson May 27 '13 at 8:35
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    In the first example I would naturally use “à cette heure-là” — no risk of misunderstanding. – Stéphane Gimenez May 27 '13 at 9:55
  • @RickyRobinson because if he meant "at 7", there should be a followup sentence, like "Oh là, à 7h je serai encore au lit, alors je pense pas que je pourrai être là à 8h!", otherwise, the statement is missing some sense. – Alexis Pigeon May 27 '13 at 10:19
  • @StéphaneGimenez Might be something regional then, I would naturally use and expect from others "à cette heure" :) – Alexis Pigeon May 27 '13 at 10:21
  • Except for in a written text, I think I will avoid all uses of "à cette heure" and limit myself to “à cette heure-là” or “à cette heure-ci”, depending on the context. – Ricky Robinson May 28 '13 at 12:40

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