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I think Thomas summed it up well with "Clear as fog in the Channel". It would be easier if everyone just talked about levels. My French house had 2 RdC levels (2 roads) and an attic level. We sold it to a builder who put the front door into the attic level (no stairs up to it, either!) so I suppose in a way that made the middle level a basement (?), even though the views over the garrigue were superb! I call my Spanish house a bungalow but most people call them villas just because it sounds more posh.
I fear you misunderstand me! I certainly did not seek to imply that a 1-storey house could consist of just an upper floor, which would be patently ridiculous!
I think what I said was that it may have just one upper floor (implicit: "on top of its ground floor"), but that this is the problem with the ambiguous context-dependent way we use floor / storey in EN and étage in FR. The R+1 notation used in FR professional real-estate contexts is much clearer!
You say a one-storey house can consist of just an upper floor. But by definition, an upper floor can only exist with a lower floor, i.e. a minimum of two floors. You can have a single-storey building, but in housing terms that would normally be called a bungalow.
Really, if you think about it, the FR and EN usage is pretty much exactly parallel: étage means (upper) floor — and we have exactly the same way of using them: if it is self-evdient thta a 'maison à étage' doesn't mean 'a house with a floor', then it wil default as in FR to 'a house with an upper floor' — in collocuail EN, we'd probably say (or would have in the past) 'a house with an upstairs'
Greater confusion arises when we start using the perhaps more formal (and dare I say dated?) 'storey' for 'floor' — although the same logic still applies: when used to qualify a building, the ground floor is counted, but when talking about the storeys alone, then it is assumed they are the ones above the ground floor: "a building consisting of ground-floor shops with 3 storeys of offices over"
B D Finch said below: "in French an étage (unlike a storey) doesn't mean the ground floor, only an upper floor."
There seems to be some confusion about this in French.
Wiktionary defines "rez-de-chaussée" as "Étage d’un bâtiment, au niveau du terrain."
Larousse says, for "étage": "le rez-de-chaussée est en général exclu du décompte des étages".
But if you search for "maison à deux étages", the vast majority of properties shown have a ground floor and a first floor (UK definition), so the ground floor is considered an "étage" by many people in such a case.
Of course, when they say "maison à étage", they don't mean the ground floor.
Sometimes they seem to consider the ground floor an étage, sometimes not.
Clear as fog in the Channel.
Thanks for clarifying — that's pretty much what I was suspecting; of course, most single-storey 'maisons' in FR wouldn't be 'bungalows' either — it seems to be a peculiarly British phenomenon, no doubt due to its colonial roots, which is the way 'bungalow' seems to be understood in almost all other languages except BE.
If this is related to patient's mobility, then possibly 'house with an upstairs' or 'house with an upper floor' might be more meaningful than any of the kind of terms that might be found in a conventional real-estate description.
In EN, by definition, a 'house' will have an upstairs — otherwise it is a 'bungalow'; but this distinction is not made in FR, causing endless confusion! I don't know how it is expressed in AE.
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3 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +7
Explanation: It literally means a house with an additional level, so two-story. Otherwise it would be "plain-pied."
Laurel Clausen United States Local time: 23:23 Native speaker of: English PRO pts in category: 8