FR: We saw him going to the meeting

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New Member
English - UK
Hi all,

I simply need to know whether 'en + gerund' always refers to the subject of the sentence.

On doing the following exercise, a student in my class said that she's heard that if 'en' was used in the sentence then it referred back to the subject of the sentence; if not, then it could be ambiguous???

For example: Nous l'avons vu il y a 15 jours EN ALLANT à la réunion.

Is it clear from this who was going to the meeting?! English: We saw him a fortnight ago (whilst) going to the meeting. It is only clear in English once we add 'whilst' (ie, this then refers to the subject of the sentence); without 'whilst' it is not clear who's going to the meeting.

Would 'Nous l'avons vu il y a 15 jours ALLANT à la réunion' be ambiguous in French too?

  • Zack.PA

    FR(FR) - PT(BR)
    en allant = refers to the subject.
    allant = (in your exemple) refers to the object (but it's ambiguous)

    So the second one is ambiguous (in french too)

    Why ?

    Because "en allant" is the answer to "How/When did {the subject} see {the object}? = En allant à la reunion il y a 15 jours
    En allant à la reunion (il y a 15 jours), nous avons vu Edouard (=il).

    And "allant" is kind of an adjectif, qualifying the object IL.
    Nous avons vu Edouard allant à la réunion il y a 15 jours.
    Nous avons vu Edouard jouant au basket il y a 1h.

    MAIS 9 fois sur 10, un natif dirait plutôt : Nous avons vu Edouard en train d'aller à la reunion il y a 15 jours. Et du coup, face à cette tournure où il manque qu'un "EN", on ne fait pas si c'est le sujet qui "allait" et a vu l'objet, ou si l'objet a été vu lorsqu'il était en train d'aller.
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