ça ne tient pas debout

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by kjc_us, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. kjc_us Senior Member

    Paris
    British English
    Could I use this expression to mean "it doesn't add up" as in "it doesn't make sense"?

    Also - does "il ne tient plus debout" basically mean "he's legless"? i.e. very drunk?
     
  2. FrancophoneFrancophile New Member

    Canada
    English-Canada
    It means " he couldn't hold himself up". so, yes it could mean drunk, also exhausted etc.

    I don't think you could use it for the above expressions you used.
     
  3. XPditif Senior Member

    Planet Earth
    français (France)
    Both your examples are absolutely correct (in France).

    But "il ne tient plus debout" just means one cannot remain standing (still), in a general way.
    It could be weakness, drunkness, illness, because of concussion...

    WR also suggests the meaning of falling asleep, which is also very common.
    ;)
     
  4. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    Why is it that the reflexive pronoun is dropped in the negative: "le bébé se tient déjà debout" vs. "il ne tient plus debout"?

    Would it be unidiomatic to use the reflexive pronoun in the negative as well?
     
  5. Special Agent Dale Cooper

    Special Agent Dale Cooper Senior Member

    France
    French (France) and German
    kjc_us : You're absolutely correct, "Ça ne tient pas debout" means "Its doesn't make sense." :tick:

    That's a good question ! I'd never thought about it, but I think in the first sentence, the reflexive pronoun is used to emphasize the fact that the baby is able to hold himself up, to do it alone, he's actively doing something. In the second sentence, the person is a victim of some sort, he's unable to remain standing, he's passive - hence no reflexive pronoun.
     

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