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EN: Vous auriez préféré que ça sente le brûlé

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by Lilietromeo, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. Lilietromeo

    Lilietromeo Junior Member

    Haute-Savoie / Rhône-Alpes
    Français - France
    Hello everyone !

    I have a bit of trouble with the translation of this sentence : " Oh, parce que bien-sûr vous auriez préféré que ça sente le brûlé ? " because of the concordance of tenses : I'm not sure of my second clause.

    I know that in 'good' French I should have used imperfect subjunctive, and my question is, what is the English equivalent of this tense ?

    Here's my attempt, but honestly I think using preterit is too simple : " Oh, because of course you would have preferred (that) it smelled of burning ? "

    Thank your for your help ! :)


     
  2. 0hisa2me

    0hisa2me Senior Member

    Paris, France
    British English
    Your attempt is very good, and there's no need to complicate it. An alternative is 'Oh, because of course you would have preferred it to smell of burning', but this is not better or worse than your own suggestion.
     
  3. Lilietromeo

    Lilietromeo Junior Member

    Haute-Savoie / Rhône-Alpes
    Français - France
    All right, thanks a lot Ohisa2me !
     
  4. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    As for the tense & mode, you will hear several combinations after "you would have preferred..."

    ... that it smell [present subjunctive]
    ... it to smell [infinitive]
    ... that it smelled [preterit]
    ... that it smelled [past subjunctive, identical to preterit for this verb]

    In terms of usage, the first three are common. If you're being tested over English grammar, your instructor probably (?) wants you to use the present subjunctive or the infinitive. The past subjunctive is indistinguishable from the preterit in this case, but if you consider a 1st person example with "to be," you can tell the difference... and you'll realize that the past subjunctive is (at least in that case) extremely rare.

    P.S. If you're talking about food, I wouldn't use "of burning" and if you are talking about flavor and not just aroma, I would use "taste" instead of "smell": ... that it smell/taste burned.
     
  5. Lilietromeo

    Lilietromeo Junior Member

    Haute-Savoie / Rhône-Alpes
    Français - France
    Thank you very much jann for these invaluable explanations !
     

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