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  5. "Elle allait sortir."

"Elle allait sortir."

Translation:She was about to go out.

January 11, 2013



Why not accept "She went out"?


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


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?


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


I'm really glad you're here.


Many thanks Sitesurf


@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?


"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


Thank you so much Sitesurf for your good work.


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.


Thanks now I get it!


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


I believe that would be "Elle sortait."


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


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


Why not, "She was going out"?


"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).


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


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

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

allait sortir = was going to go out


(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.)


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)?


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.


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


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


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)


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


This uses the imparfait and not the conditional


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


Can you not use imparfait to say used to?


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


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


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


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


"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".


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


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


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

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