passé composé or imparfait?

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Cheryl

Kwiziq community member

8 June 2018

6 replies

passé composé or imparfait?

Bonjour!

How best to translate this sentence please? : "Were you there before?" - Etais-tu là avant? (or) As-tu été là avant?

and the same sentence in the negative: "Weren't you there before?" - N'étais-tu pas là avant? (or) N'as-tu pas été là avant?

Thanks.

Cheryl

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

9 June 2018

9/06/18

Hi Cheryl,


You need to use the imparfait here so, 'étais-tu là avant', or 'n'étais tu pas là avant' but I would probably avoid using the inversion as it doesn't roll off the tongue...


Just as a tip, was/were is usually translated by the imparfait to do with the nature of the verb. You will hear 'j'ai été' but in the sense 'je suis allé' ( I have been). 


Hope this helps!

Cheryl

Kwiziq community member

9 June 2018

9/06/18

Merci Cécile!


Would it be more usual to hear <Est-ce que tu étais là avant?>, 


or simply: <Tu étais là avant?> (with a rising intonation in the voice)? - rather than the inversion?


Kind Regards to you from Australia!


Cheryl

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

9 June 2018

9/06/18

I think the inversion always sounds a bit pompous in spoken French. You won't hear it used as often as you do in English.


 

Cheryl

Kwiziq community member

9 June 2018

9/06/18

Thanks Cécile,


I didn't know that the inversion would sound pompous in French.


The word "didn't" that I just used in the sentence above, would that be translated into French using the imparfait, please? Probably the verb savoir (?) in the negative of course, in this sentence?


I find all these little things far trickier to "round up". Doing exercises at C1 is easier than A2 for that reason!


Cheryl

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

11 June 2018

11/06/18

Hi Cheryl,


Yes indeed 'I didn't know' would be 'Je ne savais pas' as 'savoir' is another of those verbs which implies duration (you know something over a period of time) so you will find it mainly in the imparfait.


To go back to the inversion, I watched a French series yesterday and listened out for questions, not one of them used it!

Cheryl

Kwiziq community member

11 June 2018

11/06/18

Thank you so much Cécile for answering those questions for me!


Bonne journée,


Cheryl

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