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LÀ, LÀ-BAS or ICI in French? - The ultimate guide

ICI in French

The difference between , là-bas and ici in French is not always intuitive.

Also, a common mistake among the French learners, is to use instead of là-bas.

Here's how it works!

Table of content


The word ici in French

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The word ici in French refers to the place where you are.

Some examples:


viens ici! (come here!)



vous êtes d'ici? (are you from here?)


Unlike and là-bas, the use of the word ici in French is not difficult. As you can see in the examples above, it simply translates to (here) in English.


The word in French

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The word refers to a person or an object that is close to you.

You may use when you can see the object, or when you can walk a few steps to reach this object.

For example:


tes clés sont là, sur la table (your keys are there, on the table)


Here, it means that you can see the keys on the table.

Another example:

les enfants sont là, dans la chambre (the children are there, in the bedroom)


Here, we don’t necessarily see the children, but the bedroom is only a few steps away.
Fluency tip

ici in French is where you are. Use to refer to objects that are only a few steps away. Last, là-bas is used to refer to further places.


In most cases, you may use instead of ici

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As explained above, there exists a difference between and ici in French.

However, the French often use one word for the other.

For example, the following sentences are also correct:


viens là! (come here!)



les enfants sont ici, dans la chambre (the children are here, in the bedroom)


Fluency tip

We use the word , much more often than ici in French.

In French, ici is usually used when we need to be precise about the place we are talking about.

Furthermore, you will hear the word , very often in France, as it is also a casual way to say (right now).

For example: tu fais quoi là ? (what are doing right now?)


When to use là-bas in french?

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To refer to objects or places that are further away, you need to use the word là-bas.

For example, if you go to Spain every year, you can say:


je vais là-bas tous les ans (I go there every year)


We also use the word là-bas to refer to places which are relatively further away.

Therefore, with the verb aller (to go), we use the word là-bas most of the time, because the place you’re going to is necessarily further away than the place where you are.

Here is an example:

va là-bas, près de la fenêtre (go there, by the window)


As you can see, we can use the word là-bas with objects that are close to us, as long as they are relatively further away.

But beware… The opposite is not true. You can never use the word to refer to objects that are far away.


A common mistake...

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Don't confuse LÀ and LÀ-BAS

We’ve seen that the difference between and ici in French is not that important, as most of the time, you may use one word for the other.

Also, with some practise, you will mimick the French, and use the word most of the time.

However, be careful with the words and là-bas. They don’t mean the same at all.

This is a common mistake among the people who learn French.

Remember that you can only use the word to refer to objects that you can see or which are only a few steps away.

Otherwise, you need to use the word là-bas.

A Real-Life Example

Imagine you are in Paris.

You stand in front of your hotel with your friends.

You start walking towards a nearby restaurant, but after a few steps, you realize that you forgot your wallet at the hotel.

You need to go back to your room before going to the restaurant.

You may tell you friends:


je vous retrouve là dans 5 minutes (I’ll meet you here in 5 minutes)


Then, your friends will wait for you in front of the hotel.

But you can also tell:

je vous retrouve là-bas dans 5 minutes (I’ll meet you there in 5 minutes)


In this case, your friends will go to the restaurant and you will meet them there.

It's not the same!


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