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"Il a pu lire ce livre."

Translation:He was able to read this book.

1
4 years ago

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/henkaipantomime

He has been able to read the book? No?

5
Reply13 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
n6zs
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Although I have seen situations where "Il a pu..." was translated as "he has been able...", my sense is that it is a colloquial use. Il a été pu lire ce livre = He has been able to read this book. The problem stems from the fact that Passé composé does not map directly to a single English verb tense. Passé composé can be translated as either English simple past, i.e. il a parlé = He spoke, or as English present perfect, i.e., il a parlé = He has spoken. Passé composé does not map to English present perfect continuous "He has been speaking". That would be "Il a été parler". Even so, the landscape of grammar in both French and English has many different advocates and usage varies considerably.

6
Reply12 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/henkaipantomime

thank you. how would you say "he had been able"?

2
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
n6zs
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That is the pluperfect tense. Il avait pu lire ce livre. Note that the verb "pouvoir" contains the work "be" as in "to be able", so that it is appropriate to use the Passé composé "Il a pu" = he has been able and the pluperfect "il avait pu" = he had been able. This does not work with many French verbs, however, which may call for the use of être to make it work, e.g., Il avait été parler = He had been speaking. Compare to: Il a parlé = He spoke, He has spoken, He did speak. But not "He has been speaking". Aside: The mapping of French verb tenses to English verb tenses is not one-for-one and becomes especially problematic to speakers on both sides when continuous tenses are used because French does not use a specific continuous tense.

3
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenLouis2

agree - that's what i thought too.

0
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BorealOwl
BorealOwl
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Isn't "He could read that book" conceptual, and looking into the future? Why not "He could have read that book" (which would have indeed happened in the past, if it did happen at all)?

3
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
n6zs
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The problem is that "could" is used two different ways in English: 1) past tense of "is able to", and 2) present conditional meaning that the possibility of the action actually taking place is uncertain or not guaranteed to occur. So with the French "a pu", we can know that it is referring to his ability to do something in the past and not the conditional mood. It's true that "He could read that book" is ambiguous in English just like there are sometimes ambiguous sentences in French but it is nevertheless completely accurate.

8
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cadilhac

I'd translate your second sentence as Il aurait pu lire ce livre, i.e., he had the chance to read it — and, incidentally, depending on the intonation, he had the chance, did not, and he should be blamed for that. As for He could read that book, I'd translate that as Il pouvait lire ce livre. HTH!

4
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BorealOwl
BorealOwl
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Thanks for your help :) Duolingo had told me that "He could read that book" was the right translation. Now, above, I can see where it says that "He has been able to read that book" is the translation, and THAT makes more sense to me. Before, I could only think of a scenario such as a Mom in a book store thinking of her child: "He couldn't read this book. He COULD read this book. I'll buy him this one."

2
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JeffHK
JeffHKPlus
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I should tried to sleuth out why "She could sleep" was given as "Elle pouvait dormir" and "Elle pourrait dormir" (I think it was the infinitive, I may be mistaken). But given this example wouldn't "Elle a pu dormir" work just as well. I think I need to find a grammar book! Au secours!

1
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mere_des_chats

Using your Mom in a book store example, I think she would more likely say "He can't read this book (it is too complicated for him) but he can read this one (it is simple enough)" if she was referring to his ability. The statement "He couldn't read this but he could read this one" seems to me something she would say referring to something in the past. When he was much younger, he couldn't read a book with small lettering and long words but he could read a book with big letters and short words.

0
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/otto.corte

"He has been able to read..." doesn't work. =\

0
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mere_des_chats

That is odd. Are you sure the rest of the sentence was correct? I ask because that doesn't sound wrong as a translation and Borealowl did write that a year ago, that displayed as a correct answer.

0
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Axelels
Axelels
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can't 'he was allowed to read this book' be accepted?

-1
Reply1 year ago