"I cannot tell you what we did yesterday."

Translation:Je ne peux pas te raconter ce que nous avons fait hier.

January 14, 2013

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Why is "ce" necessary here?

  • 2258

Here, "ce" means "that".

It is followed by a second part of the sentence which is introduced by a relative pronoun "que" (= "which"). FYI: this second part is called "relative clause".

Literally, you could translate the French sentence into:

  • "I cannot tell you that which we did yesterday."

But it is more natural to translate it to:

  • "I cannot tell you what we did yesterday."


Can we use imperfect tense here? I recall when the sentence contains a specific time in the past, we have to use passe compose.

  • 2258

Usually, the past imperfect is used to describe something that used to happen for a long time (ex: "Nous faisions du sport à l'école" for "We practiced sports at school).

In this sentence, you can use either the past imperfect or the compound past. The past imperfect tense implies that you are talking about what people did for a long period during this day (not a precise event, in which case you would use the compound past).


why, when using 'on' instead of 'nous' you need 'l'? - DL says i need to say "je ne peux pas te raconter ce que on l'a fait hier". I left out the 'l' and got it wrong, but why would it not be needed when using 'nous'?

  • 2258

In French, it does not sound good when you pronounce two vowels one after the other (ex: "ce quE On").

In such case, and for the sentence to sound better, you can either say:

  • "ce que l'on" (formal)
  • "ce qu'on" (informal)


'je ne te peux pas dire ce que nous faissons hier.' i thought this could be correct as well.


nous faisions = imparfait = we were doing
nous avons fait = passé composé = we did

The same idea is expressed, but different tenses. I imagine they want the user to keep the same tense?

  • 2258

The following tenses are accepted:

  • imparfait (past imperfect): "Je ne peux pas te raconter ce que nous faisions hier."

  • passé composé (compound past): "Je ne peux pas te raconter ce que nous avons fait hier."


I wasn't really happy with any of the choices i was offered

1 Je ne peux pas te dire ce que nous faisions hier. 2Je ne peux pas te constater ce que nous faisions hier. 3Je ne peux pas te souligner ce que nous avons fait hier.

  • 2258

Among those three choices, only the first one is correct.


Thanks for the reply, I was (and am still) thinking the same as hohenems above, ie DID doesnt really equate to the imparfait


Why wouldn't "faire" work instead of "fait"?


avons fait passé composé faire is the infinitive - it has to be conjugated to accord with nous.


What noun is "ce" paired with in this sentence?

  • 2258

It is paired with "que".


In this sentence, "ce" is the antecedent of the relative pronoun "que".

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