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sensé and censé - french words

Censé & Sensé: one pronunciation, two meanings

by | 4 Nov 2017 | French Language

 

Last week, I was writing a sentence on a whiteboard during a French language class. It was an example that included the word “censé“. The question immediately arose: “Oh, really, is it with a c? I thought it was spelt with an s!”

Ah, but both censé and sensé exist in French! The only thing is that they’re not the same word and don’t mean the same.


Sensé with an s means reasonable, sensible. For example, you could say:

  • Il est sensé, il tient toujours des propos sensés. (He’s sensible, he always talks sense.)

 

Censé, on the other hand, means supposed to, meant to:

  • Il est censé partir à 11 heures. (He’s supposed to leave at 11.)

 

Useful tip! To remember which is which, remember that the one starting with ssensé– is the one that means sensible, i.e. full of common sense and note the similarity in spelling.

Note that both sensé and censé are adjectives, so don’t forget to add an e and/or an s if it’s feminine and/or plural. Hence, you can get the following forms:

  • Censé, censée, censés, censées
  • Sensé, sensée, sensés, sensées

All forms are pronounced exactly in the same way. In a conversation, the context will be your guide to know whether the person is saying censé or sensé.

 

There you are! You now know the difference between the French adjectives censé and sensé! Congratulations! 🙂

 

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2 Comments

  1. Ellen

    Oh wow learned something new. Thanks Yolaine for pointing that out.

    Reply
    • Yolaine Bodin

      Thanks for your comment Ellen, I’m thrilled you could learn something new in this article about censé and sensé. It is a point I often have to include when I teach French spelling and writing to French natives, so you can be sure it is not obvious, even for the French!

      Reply

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