Re: OT: Possible French idiom?
|From:||Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, February 18, 2004, 20:38|
Quite OK. The use of the verb 'to have' for such cases
is much less common in French than in English. We
often use different verbs (accents dropped) :
- Have a cigar ! = Prenez un cigare (lit. 'Take a
- I had a cup of tea = J'ai pris une tasse de the
(not: J'ai eu une tasse de the)
- I had a wonderful evening = J'ai passe une soiree
merveilleuse (but: on n'a pas eu un bel ete = we had
not a really nice summer)
- We had sex = Nous avons fait l'amour (definitely
not: nous avons eu du sexe !)
This has nothing to do with 'en train de', which is
just a way to express the imperfective. The exact
equivalent of the English 'I am eating' would be 'Je
suis mangeant', but as it happens, we just don't use
such a form, what seems to puzzle the English-speakers
rather much. It's sometimes possible to use the
present participle (without 'en') after the verb
'(s'en) aller' (je vais chantant = I go singing), but
that looks old-fashioned and is rather used in poetry
or songs :
'Les gens s'en vont disant / Mon Dieu les pauvres
noces', literally 'People go saying / My God what a
'Etre en train de' can sometimes be translated by 'to
be busy -ing', but that looks difficult for passive
concepts: 'je suis en train de perdre la partie' = I'm
on the way to lose the game (?? I'm busy losing the
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> "En train de..." isn't really an idiom, just a
> grammatical feature of French. You could equate this
> to "I'm in the process of ...ing" in English, but
> usually it's just used in French to stress that an
> action is (or was) currently ongoing. For "I had a
> nice summer" I'd say "J'ai passé un bon été." though
> doubtless the native francophones on the list could
> put us both right here!
> Altho French has idioms like <en train de> which
> English doesn't have, I wonder if it has the English
> idiom in 'I had a nice summer!'. In a thing for
> school, I've translated it as <J'ai eu un été
> plaisant !>, but I'm not sure if it's correct.
> Should it be <L'été passé a été plaisant !>, maybe?
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