How to determine which case "on" is?

Melanie

Kwiziq community member

29 August 2016

5 replies

How to determine which case "on" is?

How does one determine when on is used in a general context or as a collective NOUS? Is this as arbitrary and debatable as it seems or it is not adequately explained? Otherwise I wouldn't be getting this question wrong. If on in a general context is not translated as "one" or "they", as I've seen elsewhere, doesn't "we" always include the speaker?

This relates to:
Agreeing past participle with 'on' (compound tenses) -

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

30 August 2016

30/08/16

Bonjour Melanie, To understand "on" you have to carefully consider the context. Can you give me an example of what you're getting wrong? It's not really a matter of translation. We can say things like "We're always in a hurry these days" to mean "we, people in general" as opposed to "we, my husband and I." So you have to consider not the translation, but the meaning behind it - is the sentence making a general statement about people / society, or is it referring to specific people?

Melanie

Kwiziq community member

31 August 2016

31/08/16

I'd love to track down the two examples I got wrong, Laura, but sadly your system won't let me access tests I've already taken without paying to upgrade, which is not financially possible for the foreseeable future.

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

1 September 2016

1/09/16

Bonjour Melanie, You can see all of the tests you've taken, including your results, by scrolling down to the bottom of your dashboard, in the section "Test history."

Melanie

Kwiziq community member

2 September 2016

2/09/16

OK. I'll look for them again. I wasn't able to access them at the end of that "all you can eat for a week" sampler.

Melanie

Kwiziq community member

2 September 2016

2/09/16

OK, I think I found all the C1 examples pertaining to this grammar point. I thought I had two examples with the same type of mistake, but it turns out the second error was a choice of the wrong verb, and only the first example pertains to my question, i.e., determining the context. *** Pendant la dernière année, on est souvent ________ trop loin dans les médias. During the last year, we often went too far in the media. ✔️ allé ✖️allés The question at issue here is who are the "we" in this example? Of course, it would help to understand what it means to 'go to far' in the media, which I was unclear on. But I interpreted this "on" to be a defined group of people of which the writer is a member. This is what I meant when I wrote that the interpretation appears arbitrary. La semaine dernière, on est ________ voir nos amis. Last week, we went to see our friends. ✔️ allés ✖️venus [This is the one where I chose the wrong verb.] *** So illustrate that I'm not a complete idiot, these are the examples I got correct the first time I encountered them: Hier matin, on est ________chez nous. Yesterday morning, we went back home. ✔️ rentrés Hier, mon frère et moi, on est ________ dans un grand bateau. Yesterday, my brother and I, we got on a big boat. ✔️montés En 1969, on est ________ à la conquête de la Lune. In 1969, we went to conquer the Moon. ✔️parti ✔️✔️allé (I appreciate full credit for aller instead of partir, which was used in the multiple choice version of this question.) En tant qu'hommes, on est toujours ________ à la découverte de nouveaux horizons. As men, we always went off to explore new horizons. HINT: Use "aller" ✔️ allé On est souvent ________ de faire des choses désagréables. One is often compelled to do disagreeable things. HINT: contraindre = to compel ✔️ contraint On est souvent ________ par les événements. One is often overtaken by events. HINT: dépasser = to overtake ✔️dépassé PS. Why do some correct responses have double checks next to them while others have only one?

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