Translation:While you read your book, I write a letter.
I agree with helenvee, it would help. However, I have noticed that whenever the site highlights a word, they give at least three meanings. In context, QUE has no meaning, so technically, the highlight would be pointless except to point out that in the sentence, the word QUE is actually optional.
Actually, I've noticed that the QUE is used in a sense similar to the english word "that", even when it follows a preposition. Like "est-ce que..." has the same meaning as "is it that...". I think it's used in a similar sense here, except that its meaning is lost in translation when converted to english for some words like "pendant".
Yes, it would be nice to have someone who knows to pronounce the final consonants whenever they're followed by a word starting with a vowel, as in, "...j'écris une...". As I understand it, the 's' there should be pronounced, at the start of "une" (the following word). Is this correct?
No, this is a "forbidden" liaison. Have a look at this link: http://www.lepointdufle.net/ressources_fle/liaisons_obligatoires_liaisons_interdites.htm#.U4ZGWSjb4Zb
Well Kristian, I went there and the French gave me no "Ecris" and it was beyond me anyway so I hit "Translate" and in English it made no sense at all. I did go to gootrans and "she" did make the liaison. However at about.com a "simple" guide was given which supports your post: No liaison before "U" when it sounds like "oo" videlicet: UNE. As I move through this course I learn that sometimes the French themselves don't abide by the guides and for the life of me it does seem like anarchy has broken loose here.
Haha, yeah this definitely does look a bit confusing - especially when you consider another link on about.com, which says that this liaison would be pronounced in "more formal French" (so, this basically means it's not a mistake at all - at least I have interpreted it this way), whereas my first link posted above clearly states that this is a forbidden liaison...
Have a look at this second about.com article (especially at the last example in it) : http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-liaisons-o.htm
Hopefully these comments will attract here some more knowledgeable people around, who can maybe say something about it - these two links clearly contradict each other, so (at least) one of them must be wrong...
I vill say ziss only vunce: The French may claim BOTH are correct and default to "context"; their favoured weapon. (I'm doing a course called "How to make french friends" and I'm not certain that I fully understand it yet.) Thanks for your links mate, they do make one believe that Grammar is Logic which has lost the will to live. :)
I often make similar mistakes which have nothing to do with knowing or not knowing the gender. My fingers get cold and don't always type well. Sometimes I type the wrong letter, too. :c It's very sad. But I understand. So I agree- the longer the sentence, the more likely I am to make a mistake.
"Pendant" by itself is a preposition that means "during" or "for the entire duration of". "Pendant que" is supposed to be a conjunction that means "while". At least, that's the formal difference. I personally have no idea what the difference in those two usages is supposed to be.
I'm having a really hard time distinguishing between "dès que" and "pendant que." Ive been going over this lesson for hours. It seems to me like there isnt much of a difference between "while" and "as soon as," especially when "as soon as can also mean "when" but not "while." In English, in many cases they're interchangeable. "When I'm at the store, I buy eggs" vs "while I'm at the store, I buy eggs" mean exactly the same thing. Can someone help me clarify? Are they just two different words with the same meaning?
I think that "dès que" refers to a specific instant in time, rather than an extended period of time, though that's only a general guideline, and I could be wrong.
That is, you'd use "dès que" in "when you write your letter, i'll read it", meaning (probably) once it's done being written, referring to the instant when you finish writing, or perhaps collapsing the period of time during which you're writing into a single instant. However, if I wanted to watch over your shoulder as you write, I might say, "while you're writing your letter, i'll read it", using "pendant que" to indicate duration rather than momentary action. In French, these two sentences would read as follows:
Dès que tu écris ton lettre, je voudrais le lire. (As soon as you write your letter, i would like to read it.)
Pendant que tu écris ton lettre, je voudrais le lire. (While you're writing your letter, I would like to read it.)
Possibly these sentences would be better being wholly in the present tense, possibly referring to ongoing habitual actions, such as, "whenever you write a letter, I read it", and "while you write a letter, I read (or, am reading) it".
Does that help at all?
Very nice explanation, thanks. However, I think that there could be one mistake made here. I would say that "Dès que" (as soon as) is referring to the beginning of the first action, rather then to the end of the same.
Using your example, I believe that "Dès que tu écris ton lettre, je voudrais le lire" would actually mean "As soons as you begin to write your letter,..." (rather then "as soon as you have finished writing your letter, ...")
There is just one french word with an accent over u: "où" which means "where" (not to be confused with the word "ou" which means "or")
Otherwise accents are used over a, e, i and o, and changes meaning and or pronounciation. ("À" means "to" while a means "has (third person singular of avoir that is of the verbe have)" but are pronounced the same way).
E can have the forms e, ê, è and é, and a can have the forms a, à and â, while o can have the forms o and ô and i can have the forms i and î. The ^ often represents a missing preceding s.
Also, the "hat" (circumflex in English, or circonflex in French) is typically used over a vowel that used to be (and in English, still is) followed by an "s" sound, as in, "hôtel" (the hotel/hostel), from hostel, or "l'hôpital" (the hospital), from hospital.
Aside: Compare "L'Hopital's rule, in English, which takes the French one step further and removes even the "hat" from the 'o', in naming a rule in Calculus (which is itself an abbreviation for "the calculus of derivatives (differential calculus), or the calculus of integrals (integral calculus), or possibly even the calculus of (differentials/derivatives and integrals of vectors) vectors (vector calculus), since "calculus" itself means "method of calculation" in English, or, in Latin, "small rock" or "pebble").
Only in very formal situations (that's what "very high registers" means): http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-liaisons-o.htm
According to the following link, this is a forbidden liaison: http://www.lepointdufle.net/ressources_fle/liaisons_obligatoires_liaisons_interdites.htm#.U4ZGWSjb4Zb
Well, (at least) one of these two links must be wrong :)
They mean different things. "Pendant que" means "while" with the implication of the second statement occurring for the entire duration of the first statement. I'm not that certain about "alors que", but from what I've seen, when it's used to mean "while" it normally indicates that the second statement occurred at some some specific moment of time while the first statement was going on. But more often, I've seen "alors que" being used in a sense of "whereas" or "even though", and that seems to be the normal use for it.
Perhaps "pendant que" would be better translated as "as long as", as in,
"as long as you write letters, I (will continue to) read them", or, "as long as you have been writing letters, I have been reading them", for a(n ongoing) past-tense version. This uses the duration of your letter-writing as the time during which I read your letters.
Using the duration of (the composition of) a single letter, we could say, "as long as you are writing this letter, I will (continue to) be reading it (over your shoulder, or in its repeatedly-updated drafts)".
Sorry, my French isn't good enough to be certain of exact translations, but here are my guesses:
*Pendant que tu écris (or, "écrivais", for future tense) des lettres, je les lis (or, "lisais", for (simple) future tense).
Pendant que tu écris (or, "écrivais", for (simple) future tense) cette lettre, je la lis (or, "lisais", for (simple) future tense).
Does this make sense? Does it help? Am I correct in my translations?
"as long as" is better translated to "tant que". In my understanding (although I'm not a native English speaker), "as long as" implies some causal relationship between these two actions, which doesn't seem to be a part of the meaning of "pendant que". I believe that "pendant que" implies only temporal match between these two actions, only their simultaneity...
In reality, is this the same as saying, "okay, while you read your book I'll write a letter", as english speakers would say it? Because I can't think of a situation in which I would say this english translation without being extremely sarcastic and (unhelpfully) pointing out the obvious!
Perhaps you chose the wrong alternative translation for this specific case. The suggestions are not all correct for all cases but possible in specific cases. But as Jackjon sais, we cannot help you to understand why your choice is not correct unless you let us know what you wrote.
Hi J.Burns. If you'd post your exact solution to the task there are very knowledgeable folk here who will either confirm that you were correct and advise that you put it to "Post a Problem" or if indeed you had made a mistake, inform you of it and help with a correction, and that is what these "Discussion" threads are for.