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Je veux savoir comment c'est ? a la difference de tu veux savoir comment ca fait

English translation: see below

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19:13 Aug 25, 2000
French to English translations [Non-PRO]
French term or phrase: Je veux savoir comment c'est ? a la difference de tu veux savoir comment ca fait
the "comment c'est" and the "comment ca fait" are not synonymous. Please explain the difference. Are the used frequently in conversational french. I often hear instead, " c'est commment, ... or 'comment ca fait de...(as in "ca fait quelle impression de ..." or a quoi ca ressemble de...
nicolas
English translation:see below
Explanation:
It all depends how you say it.

Je veux savoir comment c'est. (deliberately without the question mark) = I want to know what it is like.

Je veux savoir comment c'est ? (with question mark this time) = turns it into a question as long as your voice goes up at the end of the sentence. However, when you translate this as a question : Do I want to know what it's like? It is as if someone has asked you if you want to know and that you express surprise in return that they have even asked you. A rhetorical question, one to which you do not really expect an answer.

Compared to "tu veux savoir comment ça fait?" - in a mintue - as there is a mistake here. If you want this sentence to have a meaning which is close to the first sentence, then it ought to read : "tu veux savoir ce que cela [me]fait?" In which case, the meaning is never the less slightly different. It now means : "Do you want to know what it does [to me]"? Without the pronoun, "Do you want to know what its effect is? / what effect it has on you (you being general colloquial "one").

If however it is a completely different sentence with a meaning a little removed from the first example, then it should probably read : " tu veux savoir comment cela [se] fait"? That gives you : "Do you want to knwo how to do it?".

Anyway, as a general rle, verb and subject are inverted in order to formulate a question in French. However, one great difference between spoken French and English is that even without any inversion, you can still quite correctly use the affirmative form but with the inflection of your voice, going up at the end of your sentence, your question is made. It does work in English a little too, although it is more often used to express surprise.

Over.

Nikki

Selected response from:

Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Local time: 17:41
Grading comment
You gave me the best answer. But my question was somewhat vague. What I really meant was this: C'est comment? (What's it like? eg., the mountains, where you live, the family you're staying with,etc.)vs. Ca fait comment de?(What's it like? eg., as in the way you feel, l'impression, l'effect sur quelqu'un (feeling and impression). There's a difference between "etre" and "faire" And that's what you were getting to. You're response made me think and then I figured it out on my own. Sorry for the confusion. I could have been clearer. Thanks for your explinations. Maybe run into you again. Bye!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
naThe "difference" is a stylistic and syntactic choice the speaker makes
Yolanda Broad
nasee below
Nikki Scott-Despaigne


  

Answers


16 mins
see below


Explanation:
It all depends how you say it.

Je veux savoir comment c'est. (deliberately without the question mark) = I want to know what it is like.

Je veux savoir comment c'est ? (with question mark this time) = turns it into a question as long as your voice goes up at the end of the sentence. However, when you translate this as a question : Do I want to know what it's like? It is as if someone has asked you if you want to know and that you express surprise in return that they have even asked you. A rhetorical question, one to which you do not really expect an answer.

Compared to "tu veux savoir comment ça fait?" - in a mintue - as there is a mistake here. If you want this sentence to have a meaning which is close to the first sentence, then it ought to read : "tu veux savoir ce que cela [me]fait?" In which case, the meaning is never the less slightly different. It now means : "Do you want to know what it does [to me]"? Without the pronoun, "Do you want to know what its effect is? / what effect it has on you (you being general colloquial "one").

If however it is a completely different sentence with a meaning a little removed from the first example, then it should probably read : " tu veux savoir comment cela [se] fait"? That gives you : "Do you want to knwo how to do it?".

Anyway, as a general rle, verb and subject are inverted in order to formulate a question in French. However, one great difference between spoken French and English is that even without any inversion, you can still quite correctly use the affirmative form but with the inflection of your voice, going up at the end of your sentence, your question is made. It does work in English a little too, although it is more often used to express surprise.

Over.

Nikki



Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Local time: 17:41
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4431
Grading comment
You gave me the best answer. But my question was somewhat vague. What I really meant was this: C'est comment? (What's it like? eg., the mountains, where you live, the family you're staying with,etc.)vs. Ca fait comment de?(What's it like? eg., as in the way you feel, l'impression, l'effect sur quelqu'un (feeling and impression). There's a difference between "etre" and "faire" And that's what you were getting to. You're response made me think and then I figured it out on my own. Sorry for the confusion. I could have been clearer. Thanks for your explinations. Maybe run into you again. Bye!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff
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27 mins
The "difference" is a stylistic and syntactic choice the speaker makes


Explanation:
There also is a fair amount of elision in spoken French. Any explanation that is going to fit in the space is going to be an over-generalization, but here goes. Stylistic choice is not rule-determined, of course, except for social rules of conversation that appreciate variety of expression (the spice of life). Syntactic choices, however, do obey certain rules. Specifically, and briefly: the verbe être is a copulative, rather than a "real" verb. That is, it joins what, in English, we call subjects and their predicates, and is used for descriptions (hence, the interrogative *comment*, which requests a description).

Whereas faire is the "dummy" action verb for French (that is, it stands in the place of an action verb, a "real" verb). Faire is also the way French most often separates the agent (who or what caused something to happen) from the entity that is actually "doing" the action. And because French favors being explicit about causatives, thus: je fais cuire les pommes de terre (where English would simply say: I am cooking the potatos), "faire" will show up a lot more often in French than in English.

Finally, to get back to interrogatives, *quoi* is the interrogative that stands for the object of a verb, that is, what is being affected by the action (in your example, the verb *ressembler à*). The answer, of course, would identify that something/someone: ça ressemble à mon grand-père de parler comme ça. (Note: the *de* introduces an infinitive action verb)

If you go back and look over your examples (they're really good ones, and you are being very observant to have picked up on them!), I think you will see how they connect with the être/faire distinctions, and with distinctions between description and identification.


    [If this sounds pedantic, that's because I've been teaching this stuff fin colleges or an awfully long time...]
Yolanda Broad
United States
Local time: 11:41
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 1551

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff
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