FR: Merci de nous avoir contactés

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by LMorland, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley for the time being.
    American living in France
    Bonjour à tous,

    I just received an email that gave me pause [boldface mine]:
    I said to myself, "Why should there be concord with nous there?"

    So I did a Google search for the phrase merci de nous avoir contactés, and it pulled up 84,900 results. But then I tried it without the "s", and I got 161,000 hits. :eek:

    Also, I've been taught that "merci de" is used for a request, as in Merci de votre réponse (when you're asking a question on this Forum, for example) whereas "merci pour" is used to thank someone for something they've already done, as in the above case.

    What's going on?
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2010
  2. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Canberra, Australia
    English - Australia
    DISCLAIMER: I'm going to go out on a limb here, as I'm no grammatarian.

    My advice: don't trust Google. Often you will click through tens of thousands of hits to find that in fact the list stops after a few dozen. In this case, the list stops after around 300 for each.

    Contacter is not an indirect verb (it does not take the preposition "à"), so the accord must be made, as far as I can discern. We would write "ils nous ont contactés", so why would this phrase be any different?

    As for "merci de" and "merci pour", the former is used both before and after the event. "Merci pour nous avoir contactés" sounds, well, horrible! In fact, I tend to avoid "pour" except immediately preceding nouns (whether mistakenly or otherwise, I'm not sure).
  3. itka Senior Member

    I completely agree with cropje_jnr.

    "Merci de nous avoir contactés" : the object (nous) is placed before the verb (contacter) with "avoir" as an auxiliary.
    "avoir contacté" is called "infinitif passé" of the verb.

    "Merci de votre réponse" means the answer has already been given whereas "Merci de me répondre" (i.e. merci + infinitive) fits for asking an answer.

    I nearly never use "merci pour" that I find heavy, but it would be correct to say "Merci pour votre réponse" (i.e. followed by a noun, never by an infinitive).
  4. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley for the time being.
    American living in France
    Merci beaucoup, cropje_jnr et itka !

    I realize now that I was confusing this case (infinitif + participe passé) with the case of an infinitive following a past participle.

    E.g., the type: Je les ai laissé partir, which was modified during the 1990 spelling reforms.

    You can never get bored learning French! :)

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