En août j'avais l'habitude de travailler _____ la ferme de mon oncle

Georges

Member
Switzerland/French
The above phrase came up in an exercise where students had the choice of 'en', 'sur' or 'dans' to fill in the gap. My first inkling was to use 'dans' but someone produced a large dictionnary surpporting the view that 'sur' should be used. Is there perhaps a correct answer and a 'spoken' one where 'dans' would be used.
Any thought which would help me ? Comme toujours merci d'avance.
 
  • le chat noir

    Senior Member
    French
    to be honest, the most usual word would be "à" :).
    Now if the choice is limited, I still would use "dans".
    "sur" could be used, but only to indicate the farm was a huge agricultural compound (it caries the idea of a big area, like for instance "je travaille sur Paris", meaning "I work somewhere in [the vast area of] Paris").
    "en" would not be syntactically correct (same meaning as "dans" but wrong form).
     

    fetchezlavache

    Senior Member
    france
    i would use 'dans' regardless, but i can't explain why. it would be 'à' if it were :

    en août j'avais l'habitude de travailler à la ferme, avec mon oncle.
    en août j'avais l'habitude de travailler à la ferme.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    fetchezlavache said:
    i would use 'dans' regardless, but i can't explain why. it would be 'à' if it were :

    en août j'avais l'habitude de travailler à la ferme, avec mon oncle.
    en août j'avais l'habitude de travailler à la ferme.
    I'll tell you my understanding of this, and then the native French speakers can tell me if I'm right -

    I think you you are drawing the following distinction. "to work on the farm" - "travailler à la ferme" as a kind of set expression. This is the same as "aller a l'école, à l'église, au bureau". In English we usually show this by missing you the "the" eg "to go to church/school/work".

    It seems that we don't view "working on the farm" as common enough a phrase to give it its own phrase (we don't say to work on farm).

    Once you modify these set phrases in French you usually use "dans" I believe instead of "à" (and in English you add a "the"). So you say "je vais à l'église" but "elle chante dans l'église de notre seigneur ce soir" (right?) and in English "she goes to church" (she's a chuch-goer) but "she's singing in/at St Mary's tonight".
     

    OlivierG

    Senior Member
    France / Français
    fetchezlavache said:
    i would use 'dans' regardless, but i can't explain why. it would be 'à' if it were :

    en août j'avais l'habitude de travailler à la ferme, avec mon oncle.
    en août j'avais l'habitude de travailler à la ferme.
    I'd incline to write like le chat noir, i.e. "à la ferme de mon oncle".

    "Dans la ferme de mon oncle" has a meaning of being inside the building, not in the fields. I'd use it for example in "Je travaille dans le bureau de mon oncle".

    "Sur la ferme de mon oncle" can be better. "Sur" can be used to render a bigger expanse, and is often used in farming vocabulary at least in my area (Je travaille sur l'exploitation agricole). But it's a bit colloquial, so I guess the expected answer is "dans", nevertheless.
     

    chinaboy

    Member
    France-French
    timpeac said:
    I'll tell you my understanding of this, and then the native French speakers can tell me if I'm right -

    I think you you are drawing the following distinction. "to work on the farm" - "travailler à la ferme" as a kind of set expression. This is the same as "aller a l'école, à l'église, au bureau". In English we usually show this by missing you the "the" eg "to go to church/school/work".

    It seems that we don't view "working on the farm" as common enough a phrase to give it its own phrase (we don't say to work on farm).

    Once you modify these set phrases in French you usually use "dans" I believe instead of "à" (and in English you add a "the"). So you say "je vais à l'église" but "elle chante dans l'église de notre seigneur ce soir" (right?) and in English "she goes to church" (she's a chuch-goer) but "she's singing in/at St Mary's tonight".
    you're absolutely right.
     

    ncmj

    New Member
    France - Français
    Georges said:
    The above phrase came up in an exercise where students had the choice of 'en', 'sur' or 'dans' to fill in the gap. My first inkling was to use 'dans' but someone produced a large dictionnary surpporting the view that 'sur' should be used. Is there perhaps a correct answer and a 'spoken' one where 'dans' would be used.
    Any thought which would help me ? Comme toujours merci d'avance.
    One says: être dans la ferme de mon oncle (where you are)
    but: travailler sur quelquechose. (what you're working on)
    and: travailler dans une usine. (where you are working)

    So, here I think that "sur" and "dans" are correct, but "sur" gives me the impression of a more activ, dynamic participation in the farm work.. :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top