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  5. "Ma tante s'était tue."

"Ma tante s'était tue."

Translation:My aunt had kept quiet.

February 8, 2013



Yes I put "killed herself" because I hovered over the verb and it said it meant "to kill"! Reported it.


It would be "tuÉe" for "to kill". I think it might have something to do with the programming of Duolingo that doesn't take accents in account (how many hearts would be lost otherwise!). Therefore it might think "tué" and "tue" are the same word.


The issue is that Duo does not always take the nature of the word into account:

"tue" is verb "tuer" in 1st and 3rd person singular, indicative present: je/il/elle/on tue (= kill/kills)

"tue" is verb "se taire" in past participle, feminine singular: il s'est tu, elle s'est tue, ils se sont tus, elles se sont tues (=become silent/kept quiet)


I always search for your explanation in the comments, very clear..thank you!


Why can't I say "My aunt kept quiet" instead of "my aunt had kept quiet"


Because it's not "s'est tue", but "s'était tue," not simple past but past perfect.


I think "my aunt kept quiet" is used as both the simple past and the past perfect in english. It's hard to imagine a situation where "my aunt had kept quiet" couldn't be replaced with "my aunt kept quiet" without changing the meaning/sense of the sentence.


But "kept quiet" implies ongoing silence, while "had kept quiet" sounds like she's not quiet any more.


Or specifies a focal period of time during which she kept quiet. e.g. "She felt bad that she had kept quiet during the media storm."


It helps me to think of marking verb tenses on a time line. I place NOW in the middle, any past action (or state of being) to the left, and any future action to the right. Each verb form can be located in relation to NOW.

Geometrically speaking, a verb can be a precise point, a finite segment of time, or a ray that begins at a point and carries on indefinitely.

"My aunt kept quiet" implies a point in the past.

"My aunt had kept quiet" describes an action going on for an unspecified time in the past.

An additional phrase might make the time period more specific: "My aunt had kept quiet during the movie" implies a specific time range in the past while "My aunt had kept quiet until the party" implies an unknown beginning but a specific ending point.

The tense shows the extent of the action or state of being, for example whether the past action is totally in the past, is ongoing or will continue to be going.

"My aunt had kept quiet" ≠ "My aunt kept quiet" ≠ "My aunt has kept quiet" ≠ "My aunt keeps quiet" ≠ "My aunt will keep quiet" ≠ "My aunt will have kept quiet".

Expressing verbs precisely and on the fly in a second language is daunting to me! I need so much practice. (Thank you to Bescherelle's L'art du conjuger!)
BTW: Adorable baby!


my aunt had shut up?


that's right.


OK. Now I have a question - did she keep quiet, or did she shut up? They're different. She had kept quiet => no talking; continuous silence She had shut up => she WAS talking/she HAD BEEN talking, then she fell silent

Can we use 'se taire' for both? Or only for one?

(NOW ... did she kill herself rather than shut up....? Only joking! :) ) PS I know why your little angel has his head in his hands.


"Se taire" is more often about shutting up.

Teachers often use:

  • Pourriez-vous vous taire, s'il vous plaît ? (standard, polite...)
  • Taisez-vous ! (irritated teacher)

Keep quiet = garder le silence.

  • he kept quiet for the whole meeting = il a gardé le silence / il s'est tu (still meaning that he usually does not keep quiet) pendant toute la réunion


Telling someone to "shut up" would be considered rather impolite in most situations (UK). It's might be used in anger.

"Be quiet" is more acceptable.


what is the infinitive to 'keep quiet'?


se taire (reflexive)


Could you say "My aunt had been silent." Or is that a different verb tense?


Yes, it would be right.


my aunt was quiet,, why is this wrong?


First, because you need to go further into the past. It's not "s'est tue", but "s'était tue," so the English would not be simple past but past perfect, i.e., not "was" but "had been".

Secondly, I think that "se taire" is a little more deliberate than just "to be quiet". I could be wrong, but I get the impression it's not just being quiet, which someone might do just because he was asleep or engrossed in a book. It's actively refraining from making a noise - "keeping quiet" or "shutting up".


Is this idomatic? "tuer" doesn't use "etre" as the modal verb, but "avoir"


There is a confusion here (already reported):

"se taire" is a pronominal verb meaning "keep quiet" (shut up, if you prefer). the past participle of that verb is "tu", "tue", "tus" or "tues", depending on subject (gender/number), since, with verb "être", the past participle has to agree with the subject.

  • il s'est tu
  • elle s'est tue
  • nous nous sommes tus
  • elles se sont tues

Verb "tuer" means "kill" and is conjugated with auxiliairy "avoir" at composed forms:

  • il a tué (passé composé) - he has killed
  • elle avait tué (plus que parfait) - she had killed
  • nous aurons tué (futur antérieur) - we will have killed
  • elles eurent tué (passé antérieur) - they had killed

If you are interested, I can give you the rules of the agreement of past participle with auxiliaire "avoir". Just ask if you need that.


Thank you Sitesurf for leaving this great information here.It has really cleared things up for me


Yeah, and "My aunt had shut up" should be a correct answer here, but it is not.


Kept quiet and shut up are not at all the same thing. One says she never spoke and the other implies that she had been speaking.


Yes but "se taire" can mean either.


thanks for the wealth of knowledge. I believe i have made mistake many times of not making past participle agree with the subject, so this was very useful. And yes, if you could write down rule for "avoir" too, i'd really appreciate that.


I realized that I forgot to tell you about the pronominal form of "tuer" (kill) :

  • Ma tante s'était tuée" (my aunt had killed herself)
  • Mon oncle s'est tué (my uncle killed himself)

Those 2 examples illustrates the need to carefully use accents, in writing and orally as well, to clearly differentiate "tue" (TU) and ""tué/tuée" (TU-EH).

Now, about the rule of the agreement of past participle with auxiliary "avoir". Just to make you comfortable, a vast number of French people don't know them or don't apply them...

Rule: the past participle is invariable EXCEPT when the direct object is placed before the verb. To identify the direct object, ask the question: VERB - whom/what ?. Example: I love my son - I love whom? - my son - my son is the direct object of verb love.

  • j'ai écrit (past participle) une lettre (direct object) - invariable
  • la lettre (direct object - feminine singular ) que j'ai écritE (past participle) - agreement to feminine singular direct object.
  • est-ce Marie (direct object) que j'ai vuE ?
  • les œufs ? je les (pronoun replacing direct object) ai mangéS.

[deactivated user]

    Thank you for these explanations, They are certainly making duolingo more useful.


    This phrase makes no sense based on the "hover" clues


    Yes, that's right. The "hover clues" are frequently misleading; it's best to ignore them and use a proper dictionary. I suggest WordReference http://www.wordreference.com/


    Did anyone else write "auntie"? That's what we say in Australia.


    Even so, it is considered child-speak everywhere else. There are separate words in French for "auntie": tantine, tata, tatie. So if you want to say that, use the corresponding word in French.

    [deactivated user]

      It's informal and affectionate, but not "child-speak". I've always thought of it as equivalent to "tata".


      "Tata" is terribly "child-speak" (or immature) to me.

      [deactivated user]

        Thanks for clearing that up. I wasn't aware of the difference in the usage.


        Wow!!! This sentence can be generated only by a computer.


        Not one sentence in the course was generated by a computer. There are real people behind the curtains! ;-)


        Just a joke... I really liked my mistake " s'etait tue = killed herself " I wonder if the author expected such a mistake :)


        I don't think so, we are not so cruel!

        By the way, "killed herself" would be "s'était tuée", where you would hear the é sound at the end.


        past particle of tuer should be tué right? so without the accented e (é), the particle must stem from taire. I thought this is how I can differentiate between the two verbs in their past particle forms.


        That's right and the other agreements will show the same:

        • il s'était tu (taire) - il s'était tué (killed)
        • ils s'étaient tus (taire) - ils s'étaient tués (killed)
        • elles s'étaient tues (taire) - elles s'étaient tuées (killed).

        This is why paying attention to accents can be crucial!


        Thanks for your explanation. This is clearly a difference of life and death!


        You are certainly right. I will pay attention in the future.


        In consecutive questions, with different subjects, two different translations are required. When it's the girl, she "had gone silent," and "had been silent" was not accepted. When it's my aunt, exactly the opposite: "had gone silent" is not accepted and "had been silent" is. What gives?


        Actually, there were a half dozen sentences that I fixed so that the same types of translations are accepted and I added hints.

        You also have to know that "se taire" can mean 2 things depending on context:

        • to keep quiet/be quiet/remain silent/be silent
        • to become/fall/go silent (= to stop talking)


        Would "My aunt had gone quiet" work just as well?


        Why not "my aunt went silent"?


        Because the French tense is pluperfect, so you need a past perfect: my aunt had gone silent.


        "My aunt had gone silent" accepted... even though i am not pretty sure about the meaning


        "Se taire" has 2 alternative meanings:

        • to remain silent
        • to stop talking

        [deactivated user]

          Does the choice of tense in French determine which of these meanings is intended, i.e. whether it's imperfective or perfective, or is it only down to the context?


          The tense contributes to the meaning.

          • Elle se taisait = She was silent: in imperfect, it is on-going
          • Elle s'est tue = She stopped speaking: in PC, it is a one-time event.

          With bits of context:

          • Elle s'est tue toute la journée = She remained silent all day long
          • Elle se taisait pendant deux minutes, puis elle reprenait son discours = She would stop talking for two minutes, then she would resume her speech.
          • Elle se taisait quand je suis arrivé(e) = She was silent when I arrived. (on-going / interrupted by a one-time event in PC).

          [deactivated user]

            Thanks, that's much clearer now.


            I think my answer was right! Does Anyone agree?


            Please take a look at this page: do you see your or other users' answers anywhere?


            why not my aunt was quiet?


            Every other pgrase has etait tue as keot silent and here it dif not count that. It's an error.


            Please take your gloves off.


            I got this right but hesitated for a while because , until I checked the word list, i thought s'etait tue meant she had killed herself


            The verbe is "se tuer", and it is regular. As a consequence, "she killed herself" is "elle s'est tuée"

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