That would be poor english - a bit clunky. I tried the literal translation as well and was wrong.
Because it does not translate the French.
"venir de + infinitive" does not mean that there is any movement, this is the construction of near past (I (have) just received)
Similarly, "aller + infinitive" does not mean you are going anywhere, it is the construction of near future (I am going to receive)
I thought near past and near future used the present tense stll. Dont understand the tenses at all. Thanks for your explaination..still confused.
The potential translation tip is wrong then. One of the options is "was coming".
In isolation, "je venais" means "I was coming" or "I used to come". Again "venir de + infinitive" is the expression of a near past:
- Je viens de recevoir ta lettre = I (have) just received your letter
- Je venais de recevoir ta lettre (quand le téléphone a sonné) = I had just received your letter (when the phone rang).
My interpretation (which may be wrong): "Je viens de recevoir votre lettre." - I (have) just received your letter. "Je venais de recevoir votre lettre." - I had just received your letter.
Why is it in imparfait and not passé composé? I would understand if there was a second part of the sentence like "Je venais de recevoir votre lettre quand tu m'as appelé."
The construction "venir de" can only be used in the present or the imparfait.
Yeah, this actually seems more like "I was just receiving your letter" now that you mention it.
But in French it is Je viens de.. usually. I have just recieved. What changed with venais?
"venais" is the preterit (imparfait) : je venais, tu venais, il/elle/on venait, nous venions, vous veniez, ils/elles venaient.
I know wht it is, I just dont understand wht changes with it? Both je venais de recevoir votre lettre and je viens de recevoir votre lettre means the same: i have just recieved your letter?
I understand that "Je viens de.... (insert infinitive verb)" means that you had just finished doing something. So, as the others have mentioned, why is the imparfait necessary if the expression already means that an action has just recently been accomplished?
If it changes the meaning to "I HAD just received your letter" then that should have been made more clear in the translation of the sentence, yes?
The imparfait is necessary because the action is in the past.
je viens de prendre mon petit déjeuner = it happened a few minutes ago
hier, je venais de prendre mon petit déjeuner quand j'ai entendu... = it happened yesterday, a few minutes before I heard....
Everybody seems to be missing each other's point here.
What (I think) we agree on:
je viens de... = I have just...
je venais de... = I had just...
On no occasion that I am aware of, will you translate "je venais de..." with "I have just...". Always "I had just..."
Where I think we're getting confused: DL translates "je venais de..." with "I just..." No auxiliary.
So the question is: does "I just..." imply "I have just...", "I had just...", or either?
I feel it's only "I have just..." (i.e., only "je viens de..."), which would make DL's translation wrong. What do others say?
then would you ever use "je viens de..." since the construction would seem to indicate that everything you used it for would necessarily always be in the past?
is imparfait and passe compose always required with "viens de..." ?
That is why "venir de + inf" is called "immediate past", like "aller + inf" is the "immediate future".
They both use a present tense to express an action just finished or on the verge of happening:
je viens de rater mon train (I have just missed my train)
je vais rater mon train (I am going to miss my train)
Thanks, as usual. Does the inclusion of "juste" add anything to the meaning?
So it still seems like this should be translated "I HAD just received." "I just received" and "I have just received" mean the same thing (as one another, that is) in English, and in French either (of these last two) would be "Je viens de..." Yes? No?
Near past is relative:
In present, "I (have) just received a letter" (je viens de recevoir ta lettre) can be a matter of a few hours with now as a point of reference (at the time I speak).
- meaning: I received your letter a few hours ago = j'ai reçu ta lettre il y a quelques heures.
In past, "I had just received a letter" can also be a matter of a few hours, but with a point of reference in the past (at the time when my story took place).
- meaning: (yesterday/10 years ago) just after the delivery of your letter, something happened = (hier/il y a 10 ans) juste après la livraison de ta lettre, quelque chose est arrivé.
If I were speaking to you about something that happened in the past (before now, but shortly after I received your letter), I would most certainly say, "When that thing happened, I had just received your letter..."