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I was surprised when the girlfriend of a friend I called (American for the British "rang" or "phoned") said "Il est là."  I've since learned that that's the way to say "He is here."  Are there other times when "là" is used for "here" instead of "ici?"     

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"Come here!" can be either "Viens ici!" or "Viens là!" .

Here are several "standard' sentences using là instead of ici

Es tu là ? t'es là ?

Je ne suis pas sûr qu'il soit là ? Sais tu s'il sera là ?

Viens là. Ne va pas là.

Sera-t-il encore là quand nous arriverons.

As you can see all of them are used in the same context. There might some others but nothing come to my mind right now

hope this help

so it's always with regard to a person (or pet, presumably)

That's right

Don't see why.

"Est-ce que tu as  mon passport,cherie?"

"Oui il est là". ="It's here"  (as she holds it out in her hand)

Sorry, I did not explore all possibilities

so person, pet and things

I guess that in this case you would say : here you go rather than it's here, won't you ?

You could be holding it out  just to show that you had (found) it (It's here").

Or you could also be  offering to hand it over ("here you go").

Right

Hi Alan --

I think the problem here is the expectation in the first place that "here" always equates to "ici" and "there" always equates to "là".

In reality, "là" commonly covers both meanings in everyday usage.

The word "ici", often taught as being the word for "here" in French, in reality is mainly used in quite formal usage or when you need to emphasise an actual contrast between two places ("here" and "there"). In informal usage, when the meaning is clear, you would generally use "là" to mean "here". If you do need to make the distinction, another common way of doing so is for "là" to be used to mean "here" and "là-bas" to mean "there".

How would you translate the following :

Il y a une place de parking libre, ici (so close to my feets or where I stand)

Il y a une place de parking libre, là (couple of meters of where I stand)

Il y a une place de parking libre, là-bas ( (couple of meters of where I stand)

Hi Yannick:

I think you could use "just here" for "ici", either "here" or "there" for "là", and "there" or "over there" for "là-bas".

If that three-way distinction is actually being made.

That's what I thought. thanks

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