J'allais + infinitive = I was going to (Le Futur Proche in the past)

Look at these examples of Le Futur Proche dans le Passé, or how to say 'was/were going to' :

J'allais fermer la porte quand tu m'as appelé.
I was going to close the door when you called me.

Tu allais manquer ton avion, c'est pour ça que tu t'es dépêché.
You were going to miss your plane, that's why you rushed.

Elle allait appeler la police !
She was going to call the police!

Allions-nous y arriver ? Personne ne le savait.
Were we going to make it? No one knew.

Vous alliez vous rejoindre plus tard.
You were going to meet later.

Oh là là ! Qu'est-ce qu'ils allaient s'ennuyer !
My oh my! They were going to get so bored!

 

Note that to express 'I was going to + verb', you use l'Imparfait of the verb aller in French, followed by the infinitive.


ATTENTION:
Using Le Passé Composé would mean 'I went to do'!
e.g. Je suis allé faire mes devoirs.  (I went to do my homework.)

 

 

See also the previous lesson Aller + infinitive = to be going to (Le Futur Proche) 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Allions-nous y arriver ? Personne ne le savait.
Were we going to make it? No one knew.


Tu allais manquer ton avion, c'est pour ça que tu t'es dépêché.
You were going to miss your plane, that's why you rushed.


Elle allait appeler la police !
She was going to call the police!


Oh là là ! Qu'est-ce qu'ils allaient s'ennuyer !
My oh my! They were going to get so bored!


J'allais fermer la porte quand tu m'as appelé.
I was going to close the door when you called me.


Vous alliez vous rejoindre plus tard.
You were going to meet later.


Q&A

Shefali

Kwiziq community member

24 February 2019

6 replies

Which tense is this?

I read this phrase somwhere: <> also the same tense (i.e. futur proche dans le passé?

What confuses me here is that this translates in English literally as: "This week, the museum announced that the art was going to be restored from next February." But that's absurd because then we have a nuance of the past (the museum announced; art was going to be restored) as well as future (from next February).

Wouldn't the simple futur proche tense suffice here since we are talking about the future? 

Thanks in advance for your help!

Shefali

Kwiziq community member

24 February 2019

24/02/19

The phrase got omitted due to some reason. I'll re-paste it here: 

"Cette semaine, le museé a anoncé que l'art allait être restauré à partir de février prochain." 

Alan

Kwiziq community member

24 February 2019

24/02/19

This is an interesting question, and I hope we get an answer from one of the native speaker experts.

It's a question of reported speech, where the tense is normally changed ("backshifted") from the original speech when it gets reported. So typically the museum spokesman says "The art will be restored" and this gets reported as "He said that the art was going to be restored". 

This backshift is characteristic of reported speech in both French and English. But, at least in English, it doesn't always happen. The backshift is optional if you know that the statement is still true (i.e. still in the future in this case) when you report it. 

In this case we're told it's from next February, so it must still be in the future. Therefore in English we'd probably say "This week, the museum announced that the art will be restored from next February." 

If, instead, you said "This week, the museum announced that the art was going to be restored from next February." it might imply that it's no longer true - e.g. the museum has had to cancel it's plan for lack of funding.

I'd be interested to know whether this is also true in French.

Shefali

Kwiziq community member

24 February 2019

24/02/19

Mille mercis, Alan! :) What you're saying is making sense to me. I'm going with this explanation until a native expert contests it. 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

25 February 2019

25/02/19

Hi Shefali,

Alan is indeed correct , it is because of reported speech -

The museum says : 

"L' art va être restauré à partir de février prochain"

In reported speech or indirect speech -

"Le musée a annoncé que l'art allait être restauré à partir de février prochain"

In reported speech the main changes in tenses are: 

Présent ----> Imparfait

Passé composé -----> Plus-que-parfait

Imparfait ----> Imparfait    (no change)

Plus-que-parfait———> Plus-que-parfait (no change)

Futur ----> Conditionnel

Futur antérieur———-> Conditionnel passé (rare)

Conditionnel Présent ----> Conditionnel présent (no change)

Conditionnel passé ———-> Conditionnel passé (no change)

We are working on a lesson at this very moment ...

Alan

Kwiziq community member

25 February 2019

25/02/19

In English, we have essentially the same basic rules about changes in tense, but there a lot of exceptions. To achieve native speaker fluency in English, you have to go beyond those basic rules. 

In general, reported speech seems to be similar in French and English, but I imagine there must be some differences. Perhaps we are more flexible in deciding whether to backshift in English? I hope the coming lesson will discuss these differences.

Shefali

Kwiziq community member

13 March 2019

13/03/19

Merci, Cécile! It's a lot more clearer now. Looking forward to the lesson on Reported Speech.

Belinda

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2018

1 reply

I thought that the 'imparfait' was used for showing a past habit as well i.e I used to..... as well as; I was .... so 2 correct answers?

Belinda

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2018

3/11/18

Not to worry! I've realised my error as the sentence was: J'allais manquer.... ( I was going to miss.... ) vs Je manquais.... ( which could mean: I was missing.... or I used to miss..... and so the former sentence was correct.

Jonathan

Kwiziq community member

25 October 2018

3 replies

Does this indicate failure?

In English, when we say “I was going to...”, it implies that we intended to do something but didn’t. Is the same true in French? Or, for example, could I say « J’allais ouvrir la fenêtre quand j’ai entendu un crie horrible. Je suis sorti par la fenêtre tout suite ! »

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

26 October 2018

26/10/18

Hi Jonathan,

Indeed it is exactly the same meaning in French, You were going to do something and something prevented you from doing it...

J'allais sortir promener mes chiens quand j'ai réalisé qu'il pleuvait = I was going to go and walk my dogs when I realised it was raining

Hope this helps!

Bill

Kwiziq community member

13 December 2018

13/12/18

Bonjour.  I’m curious, based on this reply, what’s the best way to say:

“i was going to the market when..”?

would that also be “j’allais au marché quand...

or would a different construction be better such as:

j’étais en train d’aller au marché quand...

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

14 December 2018

14/12/18

Hi Bill,

"J'allais au marché quand ...." is correct  for "I was going to the market when..."

The use of the imperfect already conveys the duration required for that meaning.

 

Barbara

Kwiziq community member

21 March 2018

2 replies

Une phrase avec "Si/if" ... l'imparfait/le conditionnel

Stephane ...(allait) rater son rendez-vous s'il ne se dépêchait pas. Est-ce qu'on peut dire plus correctement -Stephane raterait son rendez-vous s'il ne se dépêchait pas? Est-ce que j'ai raison? Expliquez -le-moi, s'il vous plaît.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

21 March 2018

21/03/18

Your sentence is also correct but has a slightly different meaning. 

Stephane was going to miss his meeting if he didn't hurry. -- Stephane allait rater son rendez-vous s'il ne se dépêchait pas  

Stephane would missed his meeting if he didn't hurry. -- Stephane raterait son rendez-vous s'il ne se dépechait pas. 

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Chris

Kwiziq community member

21 March 2018

21/03/18

Sorry, I made a typo in the second example:

Stephane would miss his meeting, ....

-- Chris. 

Barbara

Kwiziq community member

21 March 2018

1 reply

La question sur l'examen était Stephane ... (allait)

Chris

Kwiziq community member

21 March 2018

21/03/18

Please repost your question here. -- Chris. 

Tamani

Kwiziq community member

19 September 2017

1 reply

Quand tu m'as appelé

Should it not be "quand tu m'es appélé?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

19 September 2017

19/09/17

Bonsoir Tamani,

No, in this case, «m'as appelé» is the correct syntax, the reason being that it is NOT a reflexive verb. Instead «m' = me» functions as a direct object pronoun, who were you going to call --> me.
If, on the other hand, you were telling someone your name, one would say Je m'appelle . . . or Il s'est appelé . . .--> he called himself. . . or more correctly «he is named».
It is very easy to confuse the use of direct object pronouns with the reflexive verbs; however, this is something that you will learn with time.

J'espère que ma réponse vous aidera.
Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet

Dzoan

Kwiziq community member

29 July 2017

1 reply

Qu'est-ce qu'ils allaient s'ennuyer

Qu'est-ce qu'ils allaient s'ennuyer is not a question? Do you have a lesson on that? Thank you.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

9 August 2017

9/08/17

Bonjour Dzoan !

We don't have a lesson on this yet, but here's an explanation :)

Qu'est-ce que or Comme can both be used to introduce exclamative sentences such as "How bored were they going to get!" or "How nice are you!":
Comme tu es gentil!
Qu'est-ce que tu es gentil!


Here's a link to a related lesson on how to express exclamations with "What a...!":
https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/grammar/how-to-express-what-a-with-quel-quelle-quels-quelles

À bientôt !

Ellen

Kwiziq community member

9 June 2017

3 replies

How would you write "We used to go to the cafeteria"?

That was the answer I chose and I am curious as to why it is wrong.

Nicholas

Kwiziq community member

9 June 2017

9/06/17

Nous allions à la cafétéria. It's the imparfait when you "used to"do something.

Ellen

Kwiziq community member

9 June 2017

9/06/17

OK thanks.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

13 June 2017

13/06/17

"We used to go to the cafeteria." is a general statement about the past and therefore translated using the imparfait: "Nous allions à la cafétéria." However, the exercise seems to be about something else (Le futur proche in the past). If you wanted to say "We were going to go to the cafeteria." you would translate this as "Nous allions aller à la cafétéria." -- Chris.

Dimple

Kwiziq community member

17 September 2016

1 reply

est-ce que je peux écrire j'allais aller?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

19 September 2016

19/09/16

Oui, si vous voulez dire "I was going to go."
Getting that for you now.