Tout le monde veut sauver la planète, mais personne ne veut descendre les poubelles.
tool mawd vuh so-vay lah plah-NET, may pair-sunn vuh day-sah-druh lay poo-BELL. Click below to hear this.*
Everyone wants to save the planet, but no one wants to take out the trash.
In other words, we all want to achieve noble ends, but none of us want to do the dirty work.
A couple of interesting points of grammar for beginners: tout le monde translates literally as all the world or the whole world, but that’s not how people think of the phrase. It really means everyone or everybody. If you really want to say the whole world, you say le monde entier.
And even though tout le monde involves a lot of people, it takes a singular verb. As if everyone were acting as a single unit.
The opposite of tout le monde is personne, which is a little trickier. It’s a negative, so it needs to be accompanied by ne–most of the time. The exception is when it stands alone. Qui parle? –Personne. In a complete sentence, it matters whether personne is the subject of the sentence or an object. You say Personne ne parle (No one is speaking), but Il ne parle à personne (He isn’t speaking to anyone).
And here’s another “object” question: Personne ne veut descendre means No one wants to come down, but when you give descendre an object (les poubelles ), it means No one wants to take the trash cans down.
The assumption here is that you live in an apartment on an upper floor, and you are supposed to lug the trash down to the street. I feel your pain, but someone has to do the job. Just get it over with, and then you’ll have more time to read Spk Frnch.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: