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à force de / à cause de

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by zangetsu8888, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. zangetsu8888 Senior Member

    Anglais - Londrès

    Can this expression be used exactly as a cause de? And is it not archaic or too "bourgoisie"? You could use it nowadays exactly like a cause de?

    Thanks a lot
  2. marcolo

    marcolo Senior Member

    Bordeaux, France
    France, french
    Well, this can partly mean "a cause de", but clearly it is not the main idea of this expression. For example :

    Il a réussi à force de travailler

    It means that he got success because he worked a lot. So the main idea of this expression is the repetition of an action, which leads you to something ...

    It is a normal expression, but be aware of this notion of repetition, when you use that expression.
  3. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    À force de and a cause de are not interchangeable.

    À force de couduire trop vite, il a fini par avoir un accident.
    A cause de sa manière de conduire trop vite, il a eu un acccident.
  4. Hole Senior Member

    Zagreb, Croatia
    Croatia - Croatian

    How would you translate à force dedans ce contexte?
    Chez les oiseaux la territorialité est le plus souvent passagère. Elle s’observe principalement à la période de reproduction. Mais à force de défendre une zone donnée, de se l’accaparer saison après saison, certains s’attachent à cet environnement.

    It somehow seems to me that it means "in order to", but I'm not sure if it can be translated like that.

    Thanks in advance.​
  5. marcolo

    marcolo Senior Member

    Bordeaux, France
    France, french
    in order to, no it does not mean that.

    here, you could say "because of", but you lose the notion of repetition.

    A force de défendre une zone donnée
    => Because they have defended many times a given area, ...

    Maybe there is a prettier translation
  6. Hole Senior Member

    Zagreb, Croatia
    Croatia - Croatian
    Now I get it! Thanks!
  7. faff Member

    "a force de" implies a repetition of a behaviour that can lead to a consequence.

    "a cause de" means because of, and is used only when something happened and you're stating what the reason was.

    a mother could say to her child:
    "a force de te balancer, tu vas tomber de ta chaise"
    that doesn't mean the child falls.

    but if he falls, than she can say:
    "tu t'es balancé sur ta chaise, et à cause de ça tu es tombé"

    hope that makes sense! :)
  8. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    But having defended a given spot, having held on to it season after season ...
  9. vothiha

    vothiha Member

    faff explique tre's clairement, merci bien
  10. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    Couldn't you simply say by dint of? :) It seems it's an idiom but I've never really heard it.
  11. guitarpop Member

    American English
    Through/by + v-ing
    Through working hard, he succeeded.
    He succeeded by working hard.
  12. Trixie1 Senior Member

    GB English Français
    This is an interesting solution but doesn't translate a force de in all cases.

    repeatedly doing something (
    this doesn't translate in all cases either)
  13. guitarpop Member

    American English
    Sure, one must take context into account. We can't always have an exact translation for a word/expression that works in every instance and I'm not sure you'll find one for "à force de". However, I do think that "through" brings across an approximation of the idea of repetition/perseverance. Other definitions of through include: continuing in time toward completion of (a process or period); so as to complete (a particular stage or trial) successfully; from beginning to end of (an experience or activity, typically a tedious or stressful one); up to and including (a particular point in an ordered sequence); by means of (a process or intermediate stage).
  14. djweaverbeaver Senior Member

    English Atlanta, GA USA
    I personally am not familiar with this expression. Apparently, dint is an old-fashioned word meaning "force", and it only survives in this phrase.
  15. Trixie1 Senior Member

    GB English Français
    By dint of = By force of => by dint of hard work
    à force de/ à force de travailler

    It is actually the closest translation but is unfortunately very rarely used whereas
    à force de is very common.
  16. Ecoool2 New Member

    English - Australia
    How about "he succeeded because he kept working", or "he kept working at it" or "he kept on working"?

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