Elle est bel et bien là la question!

Elle est bel et bien là la question!

ay lay bay lay bee-yaa LAH, lah kess-tee-aw! Click below to hear this.*

That IS the question!

Sure, there are shorter ways to say this. The bare-naked statement is La question est là. But doesn’t that sound terribly bland? I’m here to help you put the emotion, the passion, into your assertion.

You remember, yesterday I wrote about La question n’est pas là. Today we are making a hot, high-tempered retort.

Take that bare statement: La question est là. The first thing you do when you want to contradict someone is to turn the sentence around, and tack the subject on the end instead of at the beginning: Elle est là, la question. That puts more emphasis on the rest of the sentence, in this case.
And by making the sentence longer, you give it more weight.

Now we have to do something about the verb to be. In English, we can just say it louder, like this: That IS the question.

But French doesn’t work that way. We have to beef up that puny little syllable by adding something to it. An adverbial phrase like bel et bien does the job nicely. Literally, that translates to beautiful and well, but it means nothing of the sort. It means most certainly, indeed, and other such reinforcing expressions. So when you say Elle est bel et bien là la question! you are saying That most certainly IS the question!

Now, having handed you your retort, I leave you to defend your point on your own. I can’t help you there.

*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:



4 responses to “Elle est bel et bien là la question!

  1. amanda@amandahowland.com

    Would you and Miles be interested in being part of some background photos for my campaign shots tomorrow? we are rounding up people to use for our targeted mailers that will be sent to McHenry and Kane counties. I need friends since all of my family lives out of town.


    Original Message:

  2. Why wouldn’t it be “belle et bien là”? Is the adverbial phrase invariable with the ‘bel’ form (usually placed before a masculine vowel). Hmm, I’m intrigued!

    • Great question, Suzanne! and you pretty much figured out the answer. Even though “beau” is an adjective, in this expression it acts as an adverb, and adverbs are invariable. It takes the “bel” form because of the vowel that follows, not because of any masculine vowel.

  3. Merci bien pour la jolie explication!

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