passé composé or imparfait?

CherylC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

passé composé or imparfait?

Bonjour!

How best to translate this sentence please? : "Were you there before?" - Etais-tu là avant? (or) As-tu été là avant?

and the same sentence in the negative: "Weren't you there before?" - N'étais-tu pas là avant? (or) N'as-tu pas été là avant?

Thanks.

Cheryl

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Cheryl,

You need to use the imparfait here so, 'étais-tu là avant', or 'n'étais tu pas là avant' but I would probably avoid using the inversion as it doesn't roll off the tongue...

Just as a tip, was/were is usually translated by the imparfait to do with the nature of the verb. You will hear 'j'ai été' but in the sense 'je suis allé' ( I have been). 

Hope this helps!

CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Cheryl,

Yes indeed 'I didn't know' would be 'Je ne savais pas' as 'savoir' is another of those verbs which implies duration (you know something over a period of time) so you will find it mainly in the imparfait.

To go back to the inversion, I watched a French series yesterday and listened out for questions, not one of them used it!

CherylC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Merci Cécile!

Would it be more usual to hear <Est-ce que tu étais là avant?>, 

or simply: <Tu étais là avant?> (with a rising intonation in the voice)? - rather than the inversion?

Kind Regards to you from Australia!

Cheryl

CécileKwiziq team member

I think the inversion always sounds a bit pompous in spoken French. You won't hear it used as often as you do in English.

 

CherylC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thanks Cécile,

I didn't know that the inversion would sound pompous in French.

The word "didn't" that I just used in the sentence above, would that be translated into French using the imparfait, please? Probably the verb savoir (?) in the negative of course, in this sentence?

I find all these little things far trickier to "round up". Doing exercises at C1 is easier than A2 for that reason!

Cheryl

CherylC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you so much Cécile for answering those questions for me!

Bonne journée,

Cheryl

passé composé or imparfait?

Bonjour!

How best to translate this sentence please? : "Were you there before?" - Etais-tu là avant? (or) As-tu été là avant?

and the same sentence in the negative: "Weren't you there before?" - N'étais-tu pas là avant? (or) N'as-tu pas été là avant?

Thanks.

Cheryl

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Ask a question

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

Find your French level >>
Getting that for you now.