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fond & fonds

Fond and fonds: what’s the difference?

by | 2 Feb 2017 | French Language


You may think that fonds is just the plural form of fond and you’d be right, it can be the case! However, fonds, with its final s, is also the correct spelling of a word in the singular form.
That can be quite confusing for fond and fonds are homonyms: the pronunciation is the same but the two words have a different meaning.

Homonyms are mere troublemakers that enjoy giving you doubts the very moment you want to use or write a word! That’s what homonyms do, as we have already seen with words like tache and tâche, quand and quant, balade and ballade or even arête and arrête.

So, here are a few explanations so you can learn and remember the difference between fond and fonds and dispel any doubt you may have!

Fond, without an s in the singular, can be used to talk about the bottom or the far end of something or a place:

  • le fond d’une boîte (the bottom of a box)
  • un puits sans fond (a bottomless pit)

Fond can also refer to the substance left near the bottom of something:

  • un fond de vin (a drop of wine, some wine left)

Fond, used figuratively, can also refer to the essential or fundamental part of things:

  • le fond de la question (the heart of the question, the fundamental question)
  • un article de fond (a feature article)

Of course, you can always add an s if you need to make fond plural:

  • les grands fonds (the ocean depths)

In this instance, the difference with its homonym fonds disappears completely.

, with an s in the singular, is a sum of money (funds), a business or a property:

  • un fonds de commerce (a business)
  • un fonds de garantie (a guarantee fund)
  • un transfert de fonds (a transfer of funds)

Fonds can also refer to immaterial, personal or psychological resources:

  • le fonds d’une bibliothèque (a library collection)
  • un fonds de connaissances (a set / a fund of knowledge)
  • un fonds d’humanité (a sense of humanity)

Remembering which is which:

Remember that fond without the s is the far end (same final d), or what is funDamental.
On the other hand, fonds with an s in the singular, is about business (and money) or about resources.
Both words business and resources have distinct s sounds which can help you remember those are the notions where you need to add the s at the end of fonds.

There you are ! Now you know which spelling goes with which meaning. Congratulations!

Why not try and get a little practice with the free online exercise you can find below. Choose and type in fond or fonds. And please don’t forget to share your scores in the comment box at the bottom of the page 🙂


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