French question.

Hi, so I watched the video: which is about Jacqueline Kennedy speaking French. Anyway, at around 0:20, she says "J'en étais une" which according to the video, translates to "I was one myself". I do not really understand this. Why is the "en" used?
(I know that en can be used for some, like how J'en veux means I want some, and according to google translate, J'en étais une means I was one ).

June 17, 2017


The best translation will not always be the most faithful one, you know. They have added 'myself' in their subtitles. She does not say that, but the journalist adds: 'Oui, vous-même étiez...' (Yes, yourself were...). He actually tries to complete her sentence, because a native French speaker would have probably said: 'J'en étais une, moi-même' (I was one, myself). Instead, she adds something that I do not understand. She is referring to her year in France (1949-50 in Grenoble and Paris).

In this case, 'en' means 'of them'. So she literally says: 'I was one of them.' In French, we cannot make short answers like 'I am' or 'I was one'. We have to say 'I am/was one of them.'

  • Are you a fireman?
  • Yes, I am.

In French:

  • Es-tu un pompier ?
  • Oui, j'en suis un.

(Although we would most likely only say 'Oui'.)

This is why, to avoid saying 'J'étais une étudiante étrangère', which would repeat a term she has already employed ('les étudiants étrangers'), she says 'J'en étais une' (I was one of them).

June 17, 2017

Thank you so much! That really had me confused there.

June 17, 2017

They translated what she should have said, not what she said. :)

June 17, 2017

I just re-watched it now, and thanks to you, I see, the journalist did add Oui, vous-même étiez (une). I've never noticed that before. I kind of wish they had given the translations for what she actually said. Thank you so much. I understand the video better, all thanks to you.

June 17, 2017

You are welcome.

What she adds sounds like 'cinq fois' with the 'q' mute (some people never pronounce it, but normally it is only mute in some cases, like before 'cents'). The problem with 'cinq fois' is that she only studied abroad once, as far as I know, in two different places.

June 17, 2017

Je ne sais pa.

June 17, 2017

Hi! Thank you for trying your best. I think I'm just going to memorize "J'en étais une" for "I was one myself".

June 17, 2017
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