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Quatre à quatre

French expressions analyzed and explained


Expression: Quatre à quatre

Pronunciation: [ka tra katr(eu)]

Meaning: very quickly

Literal translation: four by four

Register: normal

Notes: The French expression quatre à quatre is used to talk about rushing up or down stairs. Monter un escalier quatre à quatre and descendre un escalier quatre à quatre indicate that someone is ascending or descending very quickly and taking several - though probably not literally four - steps at a time.

   Quand j'ai entendu la cloche, j'ai monté l'escalier quatre à quatre pour arriver à l'heure.
   When I heard the bell, I ran up the stairs (in order) to get there in time.

Grammar note: Though normally monter and descendre use être in the passé composé, they need avoir here because of the direct object escalier - learn more.

Not to be confused with
   une quatre-quatre - four-wheel drive, 4x4

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