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Back again. (I\'ll let you people alone for a while then).

English translation: imparfait

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13:54 Sep 27, 2000
French to English translations [Non-PRO]
French term or phrase: Back again. (I\'ll let you people alone for a while then).
"Passer" in French can mean "mettre." If I say "Il s'est passe la main sur le front" (Il a passe la main sur le front), it means, "he ran his hand over his forehead, or does it mean "put his hand... If it means "to put" you would say "passer la main au front" Right?

Also, I've been having trouble determining whether to use the imperfect or passe compose with the verbs "etre" and "avoir"--sometimes "faire" in certain contexts (not all). With all other verbs, the distinction is always clear between the two past tenses. The problem is with "had" and "was." Sometimes "faire" as in "il faisait chaud" and "il a fait chaud."

If I say "I had a car accident, I know it's, "J'ai eu un accident de voiture". This is an action (quelque chose s'est passe). Also, I know if you say, "He was thirty year old" is "Il avait trente ans (this is a description). Ca va jusqu'a-la ou on veut dire, "I had a headache this morning" Is it, J'avais mal a la tete ou j'ai eu mal... I can't always distinguish whether it is an action or a description. With native speakers of French, this is all very natural. As far as I know-and I been studying French for many years-they don't **think** about which one is **right** or **wrong**. It's cleary not an issue. It's like in English, we would never say, I saw seven COW--forgetting to make it plural **COWS** So, how do I can this confusion straightened out? Like I said, it's only with the verbs "etre", "avoir" and sometimes "faire". Why?

Thanks for your suggestions (I won't bother you for a while!!)

Steve
Steve
English translation:imparfait
Explanation:
Ok. I'll answer this one for you briefly, Steve. (But I think Nikki is right: It would greatly help you if you could get your hand on a good French grammar.)

This being said, "imparfait" is used when an action (or a state) takes place (or is in place) for a while, or is something that is repeatedly taking place, in the past. In other words, it is not something that takes place at a specific point on the time line. You don't see the beginning or the end of it, it just WAS. It also means something that takes place while something else is going on. There are also some other instances where it is used, but I won't get into this here.

A few examples:
"Il faisait beau" (idea of something ongoing, or while you talk about something else that was going on)
"Il a fait beau hier" (we are only talking about yesterday's weather)

"je marchais à tous les jours" ("J'ai marché hier matin" is only at that time)

"Le soleil se levait quand je suis partie" (Mais "Le soleil s'est levé a 5 heures")

I hope you get it a little better. But yes, do get a good grammar. It is a really good investment and you'll use it continuously. I still do and I am French and was educated totally in French for 20 years!

All the best.

By the way, about another question you had earlier "les billets se vendent" and "les billets sont vendus" are both good. The "feeling" is slightly different. "Se vendent" is passive and there is no indication of who is doing it. The agent is just ignored. "sont vendus" implies that someone, even unmentioned, is doing the selling. You could add "par la vendeuse" aswhere you couldn't add that with the first sentence. Hope this helps a little
Selected response from:

Louise Atfield
Grading comment
Thanks for your explanation. I won't ask ANY MORE questions, I've only asked 6 or 7 questions (that's al1!)
I'm sorry I have offended NIKKI (He wrote me a very insulting response that you also read). I'm just curious about language and translation, and I just like to hear explanations from people (It makes it easier and more interesting than from a book). Yes I do need a good grammar book (I do have a few and I do read them, but they are not detailed enough). They don't discuss the subtleties of the language enough for somebody who speaks and writes French fluently like myself.
I'm sorry I have offended the PROZ community because I have "abused" their "services." I am a very honest, sincere person who was not trying to abuse PROZ's translation help services. I am young and love languages (French and English), and have been overly curious about the translation field. Unfortunately, somebody had to get impatient and got a major "attitude" with me, and I am no longer going to you use the PROZ services. I could see if were asking questions constantly;this is clearly not the case here. Well, thanks for response, but you seemed to be annoyed with me too. Nobody has time for anybody in this world. How do you learn about something if you can't talk to anybody that has the same interests as you? (That's tough for me because I live in a little town in the USA far from anyone who speaks French or uses foreign languages as a career.) Then why offer this service then????
I'll have to find another Website to discuss my linguistic curiosities.

Sorry to end on such a bad note
Sincerely,
Steve

P.S. (You have a very solid understanding of the French language. It's quite impressive! However, since I won't be using the services on PROZ anymore, it was a pleasure knowing you on this site) Good-bye!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
nasuggestion for StevePattie Kealy
naOpen comments on mail received from Asker
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
naimparfaitLouise Atfield
naPlease take note of what is said below
Nikki Scott-Despaigne


  

Answers


8 hrs
Please take note of what is said below


Explanation:
Without wishing to offend, I think you have not understood the purpose of this site. The answer to your questions can be found in any decent grammar book, which you do need to hand if you are studying language. I am in my late-30s, reasonably well qualified and have been earning my living as a translator for 6 and 1/2 years. I still consult my English and French grammar books from time to time. You need those just as much as an ordinary good bi-lingual dictionary - without talking about all the other appropriate source material appropriate to your chosen areas of specialization and/or interest.

As I understand it, the intention of PROZ.COM is to offer a tool where working translators (or those on the brink of so becoming) can help each other out with terms and phrases in a text which they are working on. We are here to pool our resources of knowledge and experience so that we can bail each other out.

I have often answered questions from people who were obviously not working translators, where the question involved terminological help, or the translation of a quick setence.

I am beginning to resist the questions whose answer requires a langauge lesson, albeit short, as well as those, which I have always resisted which are in fact langauge jobs (song extracts etc). My defence has always been that no-one is forcing us to answer but unless I am imagining things, there are more & more of these questions. Believe you me, if one person gets a nice answer he may then tell his friends and before we know it, the site is clogged up with questions which just shouldn't be there.

Being able to classify questions as EASY or PRO is a good idea, a term can still be classified in such a way for working translators, not just used as a way of disguising a question which is grammar-related and not concenred with a term. AOL offers help with homework to its subscribers. Other ISP providers offer liek services. This would be more useful to you, I am sure.

Good luck with your reading, we can't do that for you!

Nikki

Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Local time: 07:44
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4419
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19 hrs
imparfait


Explanation:
Ok. I'll answer this one for you briefly, Steve. (But I think Nikki is right: It would greatly help you if you could get your hand on a good French grammar.)

This being said, "imparfait" is used when an action (or a state) takes place (or is in place) for a while, or is something that is repeatedly taking place, in the past. In other words, it is not something that takes place at a specific point on the time line. You don't see the beginning or the end of it, it just WAS. It also means something that takes place while something else is going on. There are also some other instances where it is used, but I won't get into this here.

A few examples:
"Il faisait beau" (idea of something ongoing, or while you talk about something else that was going on)
"Il a fait beau hier" (we are only talking about yesterday's weather)

"je marchais à tous les jours" ("J'ai marché hier matin" is only at that time)

"Le soleil se levait quand je suis partie" (Mais "Le soleil s'est levé a 5 heures")

I hope you get it a little better. But yes, do get a good grammar. It is a really good investment and you'll use it continuously. I still do and I am French and was educated totally in French for 20 years!

All the best.

By the way, about another question you had earlier "les billets se vendent" and "les billets sont vendus" are both good. The "feeling" is slightly different. "Se vendent" is passive and there is no indication of who is doing it. The agent is just ignored. "sont vendus" implies that someone, even unmentioned, is doing the selling. You could add "par la vendeuse" aswhere you couldn't add that with the first sentence. Hope this helps a little

Louise Atfield
PRO pts in pair: 300
Grading comment
Thanks for your explanation. I won't ask ANY MORE questions, I've only asked 6 or 7 questions (that's al1!)
I'm sorry I have offended NIKKI (He wrote me a very insulting response that you also read). I'm just curious about language and translation, and I just like to hear explanations from people (It makes it easier and more interesting than from a book). Yes I do need a good grammar book (I do have a few and I do read them, but they are not detailed enough). They don't discuss the subtleties of the language enough for somebody who speaks and writes French fluently like myself.
I'm sorry I have offended the PROZ community because I have "abused" their "services." I am a very honest, sincere person who was not trying to abuse PROZ's translation help services. I am young and love languages (French and English), and have been overly curious about the translation field. Unfortunately, somebody had to get impatient and got a major "attitude" with me, and I am no longer going to you use the PROZ services. I could see if were asking questions constantly;this is clearly not the case here. Well, thanks for response, but you seemed to be annoyed with me too. Nobody has time for anybody in this world. How do you learn about something if you can't talk to anybody that has the same interests as you? (That's tough for me because I live in a little town in the USA far from anyone who speaks French or uses foreign languages as a career.) Then why offer this service then????
I'll have to find another Website to discuss my linguistic curiosities.

Sorry to end on such a bad note
Sincerely,
Steve

P.S. (You have a very solid understanding of the French language. It's quite impressive! However, since I won't be using the services on PROZ anymore, it was a pleasure knowing you on this site) Good-bye!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 day2 hrs
Open comments on mail received from Asker


Explanation:
OTHER PROZ CONTRIBUTORS MAY BE INTERESTED TO READ THIS MESSAGE I RECEIVED BY E-MAIL FROM THE ASKER, WHO, JUDGING BY THE AGGRESSIVE NATURE OF HIS COMMENTS UNFORTUNATELY MISUNDERSTOOD THE INTENTION BEHIND MY ANSWER.

Sujet : [ProZ] mail from Nicolas
Date : 28/09/00 16:01:58 Paris, Madrid
From: unknownsender@unknown.domain
Sender: proz@proz.com (ProZ)

You recently received mail at the ProZ site from Nicolas.

The content of the mail is as follows :


Vous auriez mieux fait de repondre a ma question que de m\'expliquer le but du site \"PROZ.\" Vous n\'y avez rien gagne sauf que vous m\'avez bien insulte. Vous auriez pu repondre a la question et ensuite ecrire en deux ou trois phrases \"le soi-disant\" but du site ce qui est de donner de l\'aide aux personnes ayant un besoin de mieux traduire un mot, une expression (y compris une question ou \"petite lecon\" de grammaire s\'il convient ou est necessaire pour bien traduire quelque chose), et c\'est justement ce que je vous demandais de faire, et Vous n\'avez fait que me reprimander d\'avoir pose trop de questions qui ne se pretent pas au but du site. Vous m\'avez fait change d\'avis du site et je ne vais plus m\'en servir.

(By the way: you usually gave very poor answers to my questions (I think three?) a lot for a \"professional translator\" Your \"Scottish English\" just isn\'t measuring up, is it?

Good bye


MY OPEN REPLY TO THIS MAIL FROM THE ASKER :

MY INTENTION WAS NEVER TO OFFEND, JUST TO CLARIFY. BEFORE RECEIVING YOUR E-MAIL, BUT AFTER HAVING SENT MY REPLY TO YOU, I'D WRITTEN TO THE COMMUNITY MODERATOR, ASKING WHETHER THERE WAS ANY INTENTION FOR THE SITE TO SET UP A GRAMMAR AID/LANGAUGE LESSON SECTION. THERE APPEARS TO BE A REQUIREMENT FOR IT, GIVEN THE NUMBER OF ASKERS WHO POST QUESTIONS OF THIS NATURE. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. INDEED THERE MAY WELL BE SOMETHING IN THE PIPELINE. IT WOULD APPEAR THAT I HAVE UNDERSTOOD THE PURPOSE AND ETHOS OF THIS PARTICULAR SITE IN ITS CURRENT FORMAT. I HAVE HELPED ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS, HAVING NEVER SNOBBED QUESTIONS WHICH WERE NOT RELATED TO TERMINOLOGY. I HAVE GONE THROUGH THE SAME STAGES AS YOU IN THE LEARNING PROCESS. YOU NO DOUBT APPRECIATE THAT THIS PROCESS IS LIFELONG. I HAVE ALSO TAUGHT ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE AT VARIOUS LEVELS, INCLUDING UNIVERSITY.

YOU APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY OFFENDED FOR WHICH I AM SORRY. YES, I COULD HAVE ANSWERED IN 2 OR 3 SENTENCES. DAUPHINE'S ANSWER IS OF COURSE FINE. I NEVER THE LESS MAINTAIN THAT HAVING A GRAMMAR BOOK ON HAND IS INDISPENSIBLE AND THAT ANY DECENT GRAMMAR BOOK WOULD HAVE GIVEN SUFFICIENT ANSWERS TO ALL OF YOUR QUESTIONS.

Here are 2 useful references :
1 - A Comprehensive French Grammar, Glanville Price, 4th edition, Blackwell Publishers, 1999.(ISBN : 0-631-18165-2)
2 - L'Anglais de A à Z, Swan & Houdart, Hatier, 1998.(ISBN : 2-21871 797-2)

The former is a university classic in England. It covers some 600 pages, is very detailed, stuffed full of examples and detailed explanations.
The latter contains 415 points of grammar and vocabulary. Although it gives the French angle on tricky bits of English, it provides a great insight into some of the subtleties of the English language which pose a problem for native speakers of French. Conversely, it is thus an incredibly useful tool to understanding both languages, to understanding how French functions. Explanations are short, to the point and backed up by examples and corrected exercises.

To sum up, my answers have taken much more time than it would for me to have answered your immediate questions. My intention was not to offend - que nenni! - quite the opposite. It was to assist and guide in your learning process. I sincerely believe there is nothing to replace the slow, slog of reading, digesting, practice and experience.

One last bit of superfluous information. I am of Scottish descent but was born and brought up in the north of England. I have lived and studied in Oxford, Aix-en-Provence and Chester ; taught in Cambridge ; worked in London and taught again in France. You are entitled to think what you wish of my English and of the answers I give. Answers received by any asker merti reflection and analysis before deciding which is the most appropriate to a given context or the way the askers mind functions. If the answers were always obvious, the site would have no "raison d'être".

Nikki

Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Local time: 07:44
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4419
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 day20 hrs
suggestion for Steve


Explanation:
I think you would find the following two newsgroups interesting:

sci.lang.translation
fr.lettres.langue.francaise

I have read Nikki's and Dauphine's answers and see nothing offensive or insulting about them at all. They spent a lot of time and gave you clear and detailed answers.

Pattie Kealy
Local time: 22:44
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 6

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