EN: Il souhaitait sûrement ne pas être seul

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by frimous, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. frimous New Member

    French
    Hello everyone,

    I would like to translate the following sentence into English:
    Il souhaitait sûrement ne pas être seul. (= he was alone but he did not want to be alone)

    Would you say:
    1) He must have wished he were not alone
    or
    2) He must have wished he had not been alone

    Which sentence is grammatically correct?

    I would tend to think only the second sentence is correct since "must have wished" refers to a past event. Do you agree with me?

    Thank you for your help
     
  2. Toff28 Junior Member

    Paris, France
    French
    I would simply say:
    "He certainly wished he wasn't alone"
     
  3. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Or "I'm sure he didn't like being alone."
     
  4. moustic Senior Member

    near Limoges
    British English
    He must have wished ... = il a dû souhaiter ...

    If you want to keep close to the original -> He surely didn't wish (want) to be alone.
     
  5. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    I way prefer moustic's suggestion, but note that to wish should be followed by the subjunctive in English: He certainly wished he weren't alone.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  6. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Whoops - with "weren't," it becomes a present subjunctive: "He wishes he weren't alone."

    Because the wish is in the past, we need a past subjunctive, or we can drop it in informal speech/writing. So either:

    I bet he wished he hadn't been alone. or
    I bet he wished he wasn't alone.
     
  7. frimous New Member

    French
    Thank you for your answers.
    So if I want to keep my "he must have wished" (= past supposition) it must be followed by a past subjunctive.
    "he must have wished he had not been alone".
    Am I right?
     
  8. bloomiegirl

    bloomiegirl Senior Member

    New York
    US English
    But you're back to "il a dû souhaiter..." instead of "il souhaitait."

    For "Il souhaitait sûrement ne pas être seul," I'm with toff28: He surely wished he wasn't alone.
     
  9. frimous New Member

    French
    "Il a dû souhaiter" is similar to "il souhaitait sûrement" in French. Those two sentences have the same meaning. When we translate "must have + past participle" we usually use an adverb like "sûrement" in French.

    My question is : What tense would you use after:
    "he must have wished"?
    a) he were alone (present subjunctive)
    b) he had been alone (past subjunctive)

    To me, the second sentence is better than the first one since "must have wished" refers to a past event. Do you agree with me?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  10. bloomiegirl

    bloomiegirl Senior Member

    New York
    US English
    Yes of course. :)
    (though I cringe when I make such statements without at least a paragraph of context ;))
     
  11. Sedulia

    Sedulia Senior Member

    Paris, France
    **Literate** American English
    I like Moustic's suggestion. You don't need to make it longer to convey the idea of the past. I would use "hadn't been alone" only if the meaning is that he is regretting the past, not the present.

    Also, "he were" is subjunctive here so no need to correct it to "hadn't been."

    I would translate this just as Frimous did: "He must have wished he were not alone."
     
  12. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    I got confused by lucas-sp's comment but my initial suggestion was indeed correct. (I've restored my original post by the way.)

    As mentioned in this wiki:
    In short:
    • present wish about the present: He wishes (now) he weren't alone (now).
    • present wish about the past: He wishes (now) he hadn't been alone (yesterday).
    • past wish about the time of wishing: He wished (yesterday) he weren't alone (yesterday).
    • past wish about an earlier time: He wished (yesterday) he hadn't been alone (2 days ago).

    Note that you're confusing tenses.

    present subjunctive = he be
    past subjunctive = he were
    pluperfect subjunctive = he had been
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  13. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Hm... I obviously agree with you, Maître.

    But for whatever reason, "He wished he weren't alone" continues to sound bad to my ear. Perhaps this is because, in English as in French, the subjunctive tends to move forward in time, particularly with introductory verbs like "wishing" (since wishes tend to be about the future).

    So you would say "I demand that you be silent!" in a present-tense situation, but "I just wish that you were a little more polite and that you would let others speak" in the same present-tense situation.
     
  14. bloomiegirl

    bloomiegirl Senior Member

    New York
    US English
    Perhaps I was focused on the first part of the sentence ("Il souhaitait sûrement"), but I have to concede that my use of the subjunctive (or should I say lack thereof) is a bit conversational. (ahem, ahem)

    Sorry folks. :eek:
     
  15. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Still, on the whole I prefer the sentence with "wasn't." It seems economical and avoids all the issues about the subjunctive... which will in turn depend on whether you're speaking BE or AE etc. etc.
     
  16. trastu Senior Member

    Nr. Parthenay France
    British English
    I must say that I have to agree wholeheartedly with this. I have no idea why, but "He wished he weren't alone" sounds horrendous to me. I would say without any hesitation whatsoever "He wished he wasn't alone".
     

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