"Elle allait sortir."

Translation:She was about to go out.

January 11, 2013



Why not accept "She went out"?

January 11, 2013


Because it isn't the right verb tense and doesn't convey the same meaning.

January 11, 2013


SO let me see if I understand we use the imperfect of "aller" with the infinitive to mean "was about to ..." Is this an expression for just sortir or does this work with other infinitives? If "allait" was without "sortir", would it then mean "went"? "Il venait d'arriver." means "He had just arrived." but "il allait sortir." means "He was about to go out." WIll I ever remember all these expressions?

December 28, 2013


In English and in French, there are 2 extra tenses: near future and near past.

Both are built with verbal phrases:

  • near future: I am going/about to + verb = je vais + infinitive
  • near past: I just + past simple/present perfect = je viens (juste) de + infinitive

These also work in past with past perfect in English and imperfect in French:

  • I was going/about to + verb = j'allais + infinitive
  • I had just + past participle = je venais de + infinitive


  • "elle allait sortir" = she was about to go out (near future in past time)
  • "elle venait de sortir" = she had just gone out (near past in past time)


  • elle allait sortir = elle était sur le point de sortir (=@on the verge of going out)
  • elle venait de sortir = elle venait juste de sortir
December 14, 2015


I'm really glad you're here.

July 26, 2018


Moi aussi!

July 26, 2018


Many thanks Sitesurf

December 3, 2018


@Sitesurf In English we could also say she was going to go out to express intention: e.g., she was planning to go out. Would the French construction also be elle allait sortir or something else?

January 11, 2019


"She was going to go out" = elle allait sortir, elle était sur le point de sortir, elle s'apprêtait à sortir.

"She was planning to go out" = elle prévoyait de sortir, elle avait l'intention de sortir, elle comptait sortir

January 11, 2019


Or to put it another way Elle (she) allait (was going) sortir (to go out). She was going to go out. She was about to go out is a little more idiomatic and common.

July 7, 2014


Thanks now I get it!

January 21, 2017



January 11, 2013


my 'she used to go out' was obviously rubbish. How would you say that in French, s'il vous plait?

September 19, 2013

  • 1770

I believe that would be "Elle sortait."

February 28, 2014


If it makes you feel any better, I put the same thing.

January 9, 2015


I'm laughing at myself for putting the same thing. :0. Have a lingot for making me feel better!

April 11, 2017


Why not, "She was going out"?

September 23, 2014


"To go out" is sortir. Your translation doesn't account for the auxiliary aller, and would be expressed as something like "elle sortait". This is "She was going to go out" (but presumably either didn't, or was interrupted by something else happening).

March 5, 2015


Sure it does. "Aller" is "was going", "sortir" is "going out", put them together and remove the extraneous "going"

January 14, 2017


allait (imperfect) is "was going" (continuous past)

sortir (infinitive) is "to go out" (infinitive)

allait sortir = was going to go out

January 15, 2017


(Though I suppose you could express that as "She was going out" in English, using the progressive to mean a near-future intention: "What's she up to tonight?" "Well she was going out, but then her son came down with a fever...." But presumably Duo wants to make sure you know the differences between different tenses.)

March 5, 2015


Is this the futur proche usage of "aller" in a past sense, so "je vais faire.".. (I'm going to do..) becomes "j'allais faire."..(I was going to do)?

April 8, 2014


We could do with a native speaker to help with this one I think... There are lots of questions here but not really a definitive answer.

October 30, 2014


What about plural, Elles allaient sortir. Is this correct?

July 17, 2014


In that case there would be a liason so you would hear the S in Elles

July 25, 2014


I just tried "She was going to go out" and that was accepted. That translation makes more sense literally (allait - was going; sortir - to go out)

December 13, 2015


Why can't it be "she would go out"?

April 6, 2013


This uses the imparfait and not the conditional

August 11, 2013


..She..sort of stepped out/or was just about to cross the boundary. . but due to some reason..had to come back..pls clarify.

August 18, 2014


Can you not use imparfait to say used to?

February 8, 2015


You can, but that's not what is being used here.

January 23, 2017


I don't think this is the pluperfect/plus-que parfait (imperfect + past participle). Is this (imperfect + infinitive) just imperfect/imparfait? Thanks

July 28, 2017


It is a near future.... happening in the past:

  • elle va sortir (present) = she is going/about to go out
  • elle allait sortir (imperfect) = she was going/about to go out
July 29, 2017


Merci bcp!!

July 29, 2017


I have just been corrected from "she was going out" to " she was going to exit"........

September 16, 2018


"She was going out" back-translates to "elle sortait" but not "elle allait sortir".

To translate "elle allait sortir", you need 2 verbs: "to be going" in past simple, to express an upcoming action in the past and a verb like "to exit" to mean "sortir".

September 16, 2018


Thank you Sitesurf; what would we do without you? I think I was mostly shocked by the "to exit"!

September 16, 2018


about to go out? What's wrong with simply she was going out? Or she was going to go out?

October 23, 2018


Sigh, all I want to do is get a cafe creme in a PMU in the Massif Central.

February 2, 2019
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