FR: J'ai perdu les clés que tu m'as/avais données

evizzle101

New Member
English
J’ai perdu les clés que tu m’as donné/m’avais donné

I still struggle often with deciding between passé composé et plus que parfait when describing something if the verb in the first clause is already in the past tense.

Could anyone explain the difference between the two examples in the topic? Are both correct?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    Both tenses are possible, as in English. :)

    J'ai perdu les clés que tu m'as données = I lost the keys you gave me.
    J'ai perdu les clés que tu m'avais données = I lost the keys you had given me.

    PS - Please mind the proper past participle agreement.
     

    evizzle101

    New Member
    English
    Thanks for the response! Although I am a native speaker of English, I am having difficulty figuring out the difference in nuance between the two even in the English versions.
     

    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    In both languages the pluperfect is typically used to express anteriority with respect to a past event. But here we don't really care that the keys were given to you before you lost them as it is straightforward. The pluperfect is therefore not really necessary although it is certainly possible. In short, I'd more naturally use the passé composé in French and the simple past in English:

    J'ai perdu les clés que tu m'as données = I lost the keys you gave me.
     

    evizzle101

    New Member
    English
    Thanks so much for your helpful responses! One last question....Is there anytime where the rules are more rigid and we HAVE to use Plus-que-parfait and not passé composé? What about something like...

    J'était content parce que j'ai trouvé mes clés vs.
    J'était content parce que j'avais trouvé mes clés
     

    evizzle101

    New Member
    English
    Sorry to bump up an old thread, but Maitre Capello (or anyone else), could you explain to me why it is required in the second example but optional in the first?
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    Hi,

    "You gave me..." and "I was happy" is the same tense in English, but not in French. "Tu m'as donné..." is the Passé Composé while "J'étais content" is the Imparfait tense. It's an important difference.

    The first sentence could be rearranged to "Tu m'as donné des clés, mais je les ai perdues" (You gave me some keys, but I lost them"), but the second sentence could not be changed to "J'ai trouvé mes clés, donc j'étais content", because that would sound like "I have found my keys, so I was happy". The two tenses don't sit well together. It should be either "I'm happy because I've found my keys" (Je suis content parce que j'ai trouvé mes clés) or "I was happy because I'd found my keys (earlier)" (J'étais content parce que j'avais trouvé mes clés).

    Keep in mind that the Imparfait tense ("J'étais...") is essentially a continuous tense in French. You don't translate "J'étais..." or "Je savais..." as "I was being..." or "I was knowing..." in English because those verbs are 'static', but you do say things like "I was feeling..." ("Je me sentais..."), "I was thinking..." ("Je pensais..."), "I was doing..." ("Je faisais...").

    I don't think you would typically say "I was feeling sad because I lost my keys" in English, would you? I think "I was feeling sad because I'd lost my keys" would be much more appropriate. It's exactly the same situation in French. "J'étais..." is continuous (like "I was feeling..."), so it needs to be followed by "I had lost", not just "I lost".
     
    Last edited:

    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    In the given context of the lost keys found again, the passé composé would be odd as you're recounting a past event. In the present, the sentence would actually precisely use the passé composé:

    Je suis content parce que j'ai retrouvé mes clés.

    Sticking to the right sequence of tenses is therefore a lot more natural when transposing the sentence into the past:

    J'étais content parce que j'avais retrouvé mes clés.
     

    k@t

    Senior Member
    Français de France
    La non concordance est possible particulièrement si le procès de la subordonnée est en lien avec la situation d’énonciation.

    Une fois quand j’étais en vacances à Pétaouchnock, blablabla, et alors j’étais super content parce que j’avais retrouvé mes clés. (Pas de lien entre retrouver ses clés et la situation d’énonciation.)
    Tout à l’heure, j’étais super content parce que j’ai retrouvé mes clés, mais maintenant je me rends compte qu’elles sont cassées et je suis en colère. (Lien entre retrouver ses clés et la situation d’énonciation.)
    Pour cette deuxième phrase, l’opposition entre les deux états, c’est juste pour mieux montrer que l’état peut ne plus être d’actualité, mais ça n’a rien d’obligatoire, comme le montrent ces deux exemples authentiques, sans opposition d’émotion, mais avec un lien entre la situation d’énonciation et le procès de la subordonnée :

    Aujourd’hui j’étais content parce que j’ai réussi à revalider une barre à 6m.
    Lavillenie : « Juste incroyable »
    J’étais super content parce que j’ai retrouvé Issa Doumbia, un comédien que je connais très bien"
    La Fouine rêve d'une carrière au cinéma : "Ça me plait énormément !"

    Et d’ailleurs, autant dans la deuxième phrase le PQP me parait également possible, autant dans la première, il me parait limite douteux (alors même que l’imparfait de la principale est tout à fait envisageable).
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top