FR: on, nous, vous / one, you - sens impersonnel

ilvadesoi

Senior Member
English - UK
This failure dominates your life. It's always in the back of your mind, slowly tearing you apart, ready to pounce when you're most vulnerable and break you.

My attempt:

Cet échec domine sa vie. C'est toujours dans le dos de son esprit, vous en se déchirant lentement, prêt à bondir quand on est les plus vulnérables et vous briser.

My problem:

To translate 'you' into French, in this context, I've been using 'on', and therefore 'sa' and 'son' to mean 'your'.. but if I wanted to say "slowly tearing you apart" or "break you" would I use the word 'vous' or is it 'on'?
 
  • Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    Hi,

    You can't use son/sa/ses with on. Use the first person plural ;)

    On a fait nos devoirs (here, on means we so it's logical).
    Le matin, on se lève et on se demande ce qui nous attend (here, it's impersonal).

    Anyway, I suggest you use vous :) Regarding the bold part, it seems like there's a problem with tearing you apart. En and se are unnecessary.

    Se is only use with pronominal verbs. With these verbs, the subject does the action to themselves, so you can't use an object, such as vous, with it.

    Il se déchire would be He is tearing himself apart.

    ..., vous déchirant lentement,... :tick:
     

    ilvadesoi

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    You can't?! My teacher's been lying to me. D: man that's annoying..

    "vous déchire lentement" ?

    Edit: sorry Mr Oakley, you most certainly haven't been lying to me, just a misunderstanding!
     
    Last edited:

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    Note that we still say On se demande (we wonder), using the third-person singular, and not On nous demande (that would mean We're being asked).

    I'd go with ..., ça vous déchire lentement,...
     

    ilvadesoi

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Cet échec domine votre vie. C'est toujours dans le dos de votre esprit, vous déchirant lentement, prêt à bondir quand on est les plus vulnérables et vous briser.

    ?

    Also, I was told to use 'son' or 'sa' with 'on', to mean 'one's', is that completely wrong?
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    No, actually, it's correct, it seems I mixed up a few things... :eek:

    You can say On fait nos devoirs if on means we, but you can of course say On fait ses devoirs (On vit sa vie, puis on meurt, etc... ) if it's impersonnal.

    But in your case, you can't say Cet échec domine sa vie. This would mean its life (the life of the failure).

    It's tricky, maybe someone will come up with a rule, sorry about that!
     

    ilvadesoi

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Yeah, I've been using 'on' as 'one', which is generally translated as 'you' in English as it makes it sound less formal:

    This failure dominates one's life --> this failure dominates your life.
    So I just keep using 'sa' and 'son' throughout, but use 'vous' in cases such as 'vous briser'? You can't say 'on briser' can you?
     

    lamy08

    Senior Member
    Cet échec envahit votre vie. Ça vous poursuit, ça vous ronge lentement, et c'est prêt à se jeter sur vous au moment où vous êtes le plus vulnérable et à vous casser.
     

    ilvadesoi

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    If I've been using 'sa', 'son' and 'ses' throughout to mean "one's" would I still use 'votre' here, or rather 'son'?

    Cet échec envahit votre vie. Ça vous poursuit, ça vous ronge lentement, et c'est prêt à se jeter sur vous au moment où vous êtes le plus vulnérable et à vous casser.

    Thank you very much by the way.
     

    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    Since in French there is no personal or possessive pronoun corresponding to the impersonal on (except se/soi in some cases), we usually use either nous/notre or vous/votre along with on:

    Cet échec envahit notre/votre vie. Ça nous/vous poursuit, ça nous/vous ronge lentement, et c'est prêt à se jeter sur soi/nous/vous au moment où on/nous/vous est/sommes/êtes le plus vulnérable(s) et à nous/vous casser.

    That being said, since vous can have the same impersonal meaning in French as in English and since using on leads to some limitations (grammatically speaking), I'd definitely go with vous/votre in all places, both to be consistent and to more accurately translate the English.

    Cet échec envahit votre vie. Ça vous poursuit, ça vous ronge lentement, et c'est prêt à se jeter sur vous au moment où vous êtes le plus vulnérable et à vous casser.
     

    ilvadesoi

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Well, the English was written by me, but I get your point - changing 'on' to 'vous' would make things easier, as well as make it look a bit better because a mix between 'on' and 'vous' probably looks inconsistant and badly written.. as long as 'vous' gets the point across that I'm referring to people in general, then that's fantastic, merci beaucoup pour votre aide. :]
     

    zappo

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    In the French translation of the following utterance, how can the "you" - "you" - "you" - "your" be expressed as impersonals?

    "Everyone knows that when someone gives you something, you should say 'thank you': that way, you fulfill your obligation."
     

    carocome

    Senior Member
    French
    Le "you" peut être remplacé ici chaque fois par "vous" :

    "Chacun sait que quand quelqu'un vous donne quelque chose, vous devez dire "merci" : ainsi vous remplissez vos obligations".
     

    iz92

    New Member
    English
    Bonjour, est-ce que c'est plus formel de traduire "you" comme "vous", au lieu de "on" ?
    Les deux sont-ils utilisés dans le langage soutenu ?

    Merci
     

    Graine de Moutarde

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hello all!

    I'm also having a bit of trouble using impersonal you's. So, "on" works for subjects and "soi" works for indirect objects, but you can't use "sa/son/ses" for the possessive pronouns? Also, how do you determine whether to use "vous" or "nous"?

    For example, I'm trying to translate "you do your best but where does that get you? In the end, nobody cares" where a person is lamenting having tried their best to fit into a click but was still ostracized by their so-called friends.

    So, if I've understood the above posts correctly, I can't say "on fait de son mieux"? I have to say "on fait de votre/notre mieux" and would I say "mais ça vous or nous amène où?" But should it be nous or vous? notre or votre?

    Any explanation would be helpful. :confused:

    Thank you!

    ~~~Graine de Moutarde
     

    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    So, "on" works for subjects and "soi" works for indirect objects, but you can't use "sa/son/ses" for the possessive pronouns?
    No, 3rd-person possessives are fine, e.g.:

    Quand on risque sa vie, on pense à ses enfants. :tick:

    See also FR: on + notre, nos / son, sa, ses.

    Also, how do you determine whether to use "vous" or "nous"?
    The choice between on, nous and vous depends on context. It is often a matter of style. The 1st person includes the speaker whereas the 2nd person doesn't. The 2nd person is therefore typically more “impersonal” than the 1st. It is equivalent to the impersonal you in English.

    I'm trying to translate "you do your best but where does that get you? […]"
    If the sentence were just You do your best, you would have the choice between the following:

    On fait de son mieux.
    Nous faisons de notre mieux.
    Vous faites de votre mieux.

    However, to translate the full sentence, on should be avoided as you would have to use nous as direct object. There is indeed no direct object equivalent to on in French; we typically use nous instead.

    On fait de son mieux, mais où cela nous mène-t-il ? (:thumbsup:) (a bit clumsy because of the on/nous mix)​
    Nous faisons de notre mieux, mais où cela nous mène-t-il ? :thumbsup:
    Vous faites de votre mieux, mais où cela vous mène-t-il ? :thumbsup:
     
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