"That's French for ya..."
Merci, Rémy. It's a beautiful poem. I did not know about it. Thanks for introducing me to it.
Yes, there is this illusory quality to it which leads one to think it might be cryptic or esoteric in nature. Merci, Rémy aussi
This is timely & helpful as I'm learning about the passé composé, the French compound past tense. I recognized mis as the pastparticiple of mettre and bu asthe past participle of boirebut I'm not sure about pris.
"pris" is the past participle of "prendre" which means "to take".Therefore:J'ai pris = I have takenTu as pris = You have takenIl a pris = He has takenElle a pris = She has takenOn a pris = We have takenThe past participle stays the same.
The line reads:j'ai pris ma tête dans ma mainCan that also be interpreted as I took my head in my hand or am I confusing the compound past tense w/the passé simple.
You are correct. It would indeed translate as "I took" even though it is "I have taken" word for word.French people seldom use the "passé simple" as it is rather old fashion and harder to remember due to irregular verbs.They use le passé composé and l'imparfait.Even though le passé simple is used in literary writing, Jacques Prévert may have wanted his poem to have a contemporary feel to it as opposed to sounding old fashioned.
So, the le passé composé and l'imparfait are basically a distinction without a difference?J'ai pris = I have taken (verbatim)andJ'ai prenais = I took
J'ai pris = I have taken (verbatim)/ I tookJe prenais = I was taking / I used to takeLe passé composé infers that the action is finished and done with, whereas l'imparfait (imperfect) suggests that the action is ongoing in the past.je parlais à Jacques quand j'ai vu Simon (I was talking to Jack when I saw simon)L'imparfait is also used for action that used to take place in the past:J'allais à l'école quand j'étais enfant (I used to go to school when I was a child)[Note that "I was a child" was an ongoing thing in the past and not a fixed and finished event]Is your head spinning yet lolThat's French for ya :)
D'oh!Wait, let me try this - would it be acceptable to say, using your example:Je suis allé à l'école quand j'étais un enfant.(I went to school when I was a child.)Or would that be considered incongruent?
It's actually correct because it's now done. You went to school when you were a child. You no longer are a child or go to school.When you say:"J'allais à l'école" it entails that you used to go day after day after day (not a one shot deal).There is a real danger in using English grammar when trying to speak French. It is not a perfect match.
I read more about the "imparfait" tense and I think I understand now. I found the conjugated verb endings are largely uniform regardless of verb type: -er, -re, or -ir and I read: Il y avait toutes sortes de problèmesand (this is a biggie) recognized it as the "imparfait" version of the idiomatic expression "il y a" (there is/there are), worked out the passé composé version:Il y a eu toutes sortes de problèmesSo they both imply past action but version 1 is continuing and version 2 is finite. Correct?
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