FR: When I couldn't stand it any longer

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by samlynnw, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. samlynnw New Member

    English
    So I know the phrase for "I can't stand it any longer"= je n'en peux plus
    And right now, and PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong, I'm assuming "I couldn't stand it any longer" would be=je n'en pouvais plus ?
    So would, "When I couldn't stand it any longer, I bought a ticket to France" be=Quand je n'en pouvais plus, j'ai acheté un billet pour la France ?
    I'm not sure if that sounds correct, just making sure, thanks !
     
  2. VanOo

    VanOo Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Français - France
    Your sentence is correct. Please note that, grammatically, it would be better to stick with one tense. It should be either:
    Quand je n'en pouvais plus, j'achetais un billet pour la France (Imparfait)
    Quand je n'en pus plus, j'achetai un billet pour la France (Passé simple)
    Quand je n'en ai pu plus, j'ai acheté un billet pour la France (Passé composé)

    One little suggestion "when" designates a short moment. You should render that in French:
    Au moment où j'en pouvais plus, j'ai acheté ...
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  3. samlynnw New Member

    English
    That's the part I wasn't sure about, so for using "quand" or "au moment où" for this sentence and changing, for example, them both to imparfait, does it still act correctly even though the action of buying the ticket is considered in the past and non-continuous? AKA would it be better to change them both to imperfect ?
     
  4. VanOo

    VanOo Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Français - France
    Quand je n'en pouvais plus, j'achetais un billet pour la France = Every time I couldn't stand it any longer, I bought a ticket to France
    Quand je n'en pus plus, j'achetai un billet pour la France = One day I couldn't stand it any longer and I bought a ticket to France
    Quand je n'en ai pu plus, j'ai acheté un billet pour la France = One day I couldn't stand it any longer and I bought a ticket to France (and here I am)

    The Passé Simple implies a time (relatively) far ago (without any connection to the present situation) whereas the passé composé can designates a close time.

    EDIT: my last sentence is bit hard. I'd like to adjust:
    The Passé Simple refers to a definite time period, and the said action has no impact on the present.
    The Passé Composé refers to a indefinite time period and the said action may have impact on the present.

    The Passé Simple is used in literature and rarely in oral discussions.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  5. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    Hi,

    What did you mean exactly in English, Samlynnw? I find it quite ambiguous.

    If you decide to use the Imparfait tense, then use it in the whole sentence. The Imparfait tense implies a past habit, something that used to happen several times in the past.

    ....Quand je n'en pouvais plus, j'achetais un billet... → When I couldn't stand it, I used to buy a ticket...

    On the other hand, the Passé Composé tense implies a one-off/one-shot action. Something that happened once. I suggest you use another verb than "n'en plus pouvoir" in the Passé Composé. That verb is very common when conjugated in simple tense (Je n'en peux plus, Je n'en pouvais plus,...), but it sounds weird to me in a compound tense (Je n'en ai plus pu ? Je n'en ai pu plus ?)

    ....Quand la situation est devenue trop difficile à supporter, j'ai acheté un billet... → When it became unbearable (on a particular day), I decided to buy a
    ....ticket...

    As for the Passé Simple tense (Je n'en pus plus... J'achetai...), I'm pretty sure it has the same exact meaning as the Passé Composé tense (i.e., a one-off event that happened once in the past). It's merely more literary, and only used in litterature, never in speech.
     
  6. samlynnw New Member

    English
    I'm writing an essay for my French class and we need to use certain French Grammar and Vocab to create it and one of our vocab was this phrase (in the present form though, but we're aloud to change tenses on things). This is what I had surrounding this sentence if it helps: "La région de Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur est calme et tranquille. C’était une expérience que je n’oublierai jamais. Avant de voyager là, je n’avais jamais quitté les Etats-Unis, donc, quand je n'en pouvais plus, j'ai acheté un billet pour la France." This is what I originally had as the structure because I was trying to say like, "When I was not able to stand it any longer (referring to never having left the US before), I bought a ticket to France. Idk if that helps. Would it be better than, if it is not meant to be in a tense other than present really, to change it to a quote of like, "Finally I said to myself, 'I can not stand it any longer'"? However, idk if that looks okay written in an essay. Thanks! PS if anything else looks weird in the background sentences, i'd be happy for feedback.
     
  7. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Since it was not a habit but a single event, the imparfait is not suitable; you should use the passé composé instead. That being said, your suggestion to use a reported speech in the present is a good alternative.

    At any rate, you should not say, Je n'en peux plus, but, Je n'y tiens plus. (Je n'en peux plus = I'm exhausted, I'm worn-out / I'm fed up, I cannot take any more)

    Quand je n'y ai plus tenu, j'ai acheté un billet pour la France.
    Je me suis finalement dit : « Je n'y tiens plus » et j'ai acheté un billet pour la France.

    It should be in the reverse order: Quand je n'en ai plus pu
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013
  8. cougenv Senior Member

    paris
    french
    the whole problem is that in French there are 2 'passé composé'( and very few Frenchs are aware of that) !

    one is related to the present ( accomplished present) : J'ai fini mon travail et je rentre à la maison.

    the other is used for 'passé simple'(perfect past) just because passé simple is difficult to conjugate and sometimes ambiguous : je finis (= j'ai fini) mon travail avant de partir / nous finissâmes(nous avons fini) notre travail avant de partir ou bien je saluai(j'ai salué) mes collègues avant de partir / il nous salua (a salué) avant de partir

    it seems that in you sentence you have to use passé simple (litterary) or passé composé (usual) for the 2 verbs,
    but 'je n'en ai plus pu' and 'je n'en pus plus' sound (literaly, phonetically !) both ridiculous !

    other remark:
    "La région de Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur est calme et tranquille. C’est une expérience que je n’oublierai jamais." Use present, for the expierence is, even if the stay has been.
    and if you write in the next sentence the reason why you were or went in France, you have to change the tense to 'j'avais acheté' to be in the past

    another problem is what you mean saying "When I was not able to stand it any longer (referring to never having left the US before)"
    in French, 'en' from 'je n'en pouvais plus' can't refer to something (it's called "en" explétif, with no grammatical function)

    you can express the same in fFrench saying "Je n'avais jamais quitté les Etats-Unis et comme je n'en pouvais plus, j'avais acheté un billet pour la France.", where "comme" makes the causal link, but a low link (you could be upset by something else)
    so you can express it in a more univoque way : Cela me pesait de plus en plus de n'avoir jamais quitté les Etats-Unis, alors j'avais craqué (colloq. but usual) et j'avais pris un billet pour la France. or "Comme je n'en pouvais plus de n'avoir jamais quitté les Etats-Unis, j'avais acheté un billet pour la France"

    I hope it's clear, just feel free to ask more explainations !
     
  9. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    :thumbsdown: The passé simple of finir in the 1st person plural is nous finîmes (see our conjugator).

    :thumbsup: I agree.

    :thumbsdown: No, it is not "expletive" because, contrary to the expletive ne, it is actually required.
     

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