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I'm trying to figure out how to talk about going to sleep in French, and searching the internet I'm finding different answers, mainly dormir and coucher. Can someone please tell me what the difference is? Thank you!!

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se coucher =go to bed

dormir      =sleep


I think you should be able to say "faire coucher le bébé"  for "put the baby to bed"


No need for the "faire": just "coucher le bébé" is fine (or "mettre le bébé au lit").

so "faire coucher (le  bébé)" ,would that imply  a regular arrangement ?

I can see it can be used as an expression but it seems to be very little used. 

Basically, as mentioned, "dormir" is the general word for "sleep".

"se coucher" means "to go to bed".

A slight complication is that informally, "coucher" on its own can also mean "to sleep, stay the night". For example: "J'ai couché chez Jean" = "I spent the night at Jean's house".

If you literally mean "to go to sleep" as in "go from the state of being awake to the state of sleeping", then the verb is "s'endormir".

Here's a question. In English, the expressions going to bed with (someone) and sleeping with are used interchangeably to mean fornicating (even when sleep is the last thing the participants have in mind.) I know coucher avec also has this somewhat euphemistic meaning in French, but what about dormir avec? I don't think I've heard that.

I didn't know that either but a quick Google search

reveals  that "dormir" can be used like "coucher" -although aren't you implying that those expressions just apply to unmarried couples?

Yes, I suppose my use of the verb fornicating does have that connotation. Also euphemism would seem a little odd in the context of a marriage. "Darling, I want to sleep with you tonight."   "Yes, well, you do every night, what's the big deal?"

Thanks for the research. That's as conclusive as you can get, I'd say.

My impression would be this sexual connotation with French "dormir avec" is less strong than with English "sleep with"-- in other words if you say e.g. "J'ai dormi avec Jean", it is more likely to imply simply "I slept in the same room/alongside Jean" than its English counterpart.

But I guess it could vary from speaker to speaker -- will be interesting to see what other people report...

Thank you! Yes, I was wondering if there was a difference between "I'm going to bed now, goodnight!" and "I'm going to go to sleep now, goodnight!" because in English they both basically mean the same thing. So if I want to say "I'm going to bed now, goodnight!" would it be "Je vais  me coucher, bonne nuit !" ? 

Merci !

(and yes, I'm still just starting to learn French, so I get things wrong quite often)

I think if you said either  it could come to more or less the same depending on the circumstance.


If you were still in  the sitting room (for example) or even out of the house saying "je vais dormir"  or "je vais me coucher"  would be very similar ( unless you planned on sleeping in front of the telly).

But if you were already in your bed ( and thus already "couchée")  saying "je vais dormir"  would mean it was time for shuteye.


Hope that is right (and made sense!)

Yes, thank you! 


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