lui ne faisait que regarder.

English translation: he could only look on.

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
French term or phrase: lui ne faisait que regarder.
English translation:he could only look on.

23:36 Jan 4, 2019
    The asker opted for community grading. The question was closed on 2019-01-08 15:54:07 based on peer agreement (or, if there were too few peer comments, asker preference.)


French to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary - General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters
French term or phrase: lui ne faisait que regarder.
Oscar hurlait qu’elles étaient entrées par effraction dans ses rêves, lui ne faisait que regarder. Il n’y eut rien à faire.

It's in a nightmare. He's talking to the giant bees (sic!)
Frank Gerace
United States
Local time: 23:10
he could only look on.
Explanation:
Very similar to the sense of the other answers offered, but I think this is a turn of phrase which best suits the mood of the short para you have given us. A more literary expression...
Selected response from:

Anita Planchon
Australia
Local time: 15:10
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
3 +4he could only look on.
Anita Planchon
3 +3and all he did was look
Barbara Cochran, MFA
4He could do nothing but look
LINDA PETRONILLE NGONGANG TCHATCHOUA
4he had only been looking (at them).
Trevino Translations
3 +1he was only watching
Tony M


  

Answers


16 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
and all he did was look


Explanation:
Another possibility.

Barbara Cochran, MFA
United States
Local time: 23:10
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 12

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Nicole Acher: Agree - I posted mine without realizing you had entered this.
9 mins
  -> Merci, Nicole.

agree  Katarina Peters
4 hrs
  -> Thank you, Katarina.

agree  Ana Vozone
8 hrs
  -> Thank you, Ana.

agree  B D Finch: With "he" in bold/underlined, if possible.
11 hrs
  -> Thank you, B D.

disagree  Tony M: IMHO, this fails to convey the notion of 'powerlessness', but rather suggests some voluntary inactivity when 'he' might have done something; I don't believe that is the way to take it in this instance, and Asker seems to confirm.
18 hrs
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7 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
lui ne faisait que regarder.
he was only watching


Explanation:
It all depends on the surrounding context, which way to take this.

If, as seems possible, 'he' is in some way trying to deflect the blame for something from himself, then this slightly stronger version using 'only' (or 'merely', if it fits better) could be more appropriate. We'd need to see what precedes this, and possibly what follows it, in order to properly understand the situation in which it is being said.

Tony M
France
Local time: 05:10
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 320
Notes to answerer
Asker: you caught the idea!


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  writeaway: watch is a possibility but don't agree with a literal translation of the verb tense.
4 hrs
  -> I don't think we have enough context to know what is really required here. It is probably more dangerous to change the sequence of tenses without the necessary information to back it up.

agree  Nikki Scott-Despaigne: The ntaural verb choices here are "to watch" or "to look on". Howabout "He was only watching".
1 day 8 hrs
  -> Thanks, Nikki! Quite! But of course it does depend on the wider context... I think that's what I said, didn't I? Though some people are criticising our choise of the 'past continuous' tense, as used in the FR. Perso, I think it fits just fine here.
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8 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
he had only been looking (at them).


Explanation:
The verb tenses bother me here. I would translate the first part of the sentence like this:

Oscar was screaming that they had crashed (broken into) his dreams,

So the second part would be:

he had only been looking (at them).

Trevino Translations
France
Local time: 05:10
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  writeaway: don't agree the verb tense. imo as so often, the French verb tense doesn't really translate literally into English
5 hrs
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
He could do nothing but look


Explanation:
I used "could" to highlight the fact that, he did not have the possibility to do anything in his situation. the next sentence "Il n'y eut rien à faire." clearly explains it.

LINDA PETRONILLE NGONGANG TCHATCHOUA
Cameroon
Local time: 05:10
Native speaker of: French

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Victoria Britten: I like the "could", reinforcing the idea of his powerlessness, but "nothing" is a bit strong in relation to the original, imo
3 hrs

neutral  Tony M: I agree with VB's comment; and in the way you are seeking to use it here, 'look on' (i.e. as a helpless spectator) would probably be better.
4 hrs
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11 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +4
he could only look on.


Explanation:
Very similar to the sense of the other answers offered, but I think this is a turn of phrase which best suits the mood of the short para you have given us. A more literary expression...

Anita Planchon
Australia
Local time: 15:10
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Victoria Britten: Yes, and it reinforces the idea of his powerlessness - very nightmarish!
41 mins

agree  Verginia Ophof
1 hr

agree  Tony M: Yes, if the context supports it, then I think 'look on' is the verb needed here. Not too happy, though, about using 'could' — again context is needed to see if it really fits or not.
1 hr

agree  Jennifer White
2 hrs

neutral  Nikki Scott-Despaigne: I like this and I'd like it to fit, altho' I'm not sure it does. Nothing in the soruce suggests something (moral or physical) was preventing him form doing any other than watch.
1 day 4 hrs
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