"Les cinq vieux hommes s'étaient assis là."

Translation:The five old men had sat there.

March 7, 2013

33 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lkt005

So how would you say the five old men were sitting there?

March 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"les cinq vieux hommes étaient assis là"

March 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1751

Did you mean, "Les cinq vieux hommes s'asseyaient là" for "The five old men were sitting there"?

March 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

s'asseyaient = were sitting down (movement)

étaient assis là = were seated there (state)

March 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1751

Thank you. I see now. In one sentence, "étaient assis" is the pluperfect with "assis" being the past participle of asseoir, rendered "had sat". The other sentence has "assis" as an adjective and using the imperfect form of être, rendered "were sitting". They are identical in French (étaient assis) but they are not identical in English depending on what the (French) speaker meant to say. So you see how this can be puzzling. I have posted the observation that one cannot properly translate something unless one knows what the person speaking actually meant. This is a classic example of that. Admittedly, it is a tempest in a teapot, this "had sat" vs. "were seated" business. But the only way we can learn is to understand the correct use of the different tenses. Thanks again for coming through, Sitesurf! You're the best!

March 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1751

"Les cinq vieux hommes étaient assis là" uses the pluperfect for "The five old men had sat there" (Duo's pluperfect sentence translated above, which I believe to be correct)....which you translated in your reply to lkt005 as "The five old men were sitting there" (Imperfect tense). How is the same sentence in French (Pluperfect) translated using two different tenses in English? I'm sorry to belabor the question, but you mention "s'asseyaient = were sitting down" (Imperfect) as relating to movement (you may be referring to the present participle -- waiting, running, sitting --used in the formation of the Imperfect tense). Given that "étaient assis" is the pluperfect tense, this tense is formed in English with the past tense of "to have" (i.e., "had"...not "were") plus the past participle of the verb (sat, not sitting). So how does that end up being "were" seated? The imperfect indicative of être is not literally translated to "were" to form the pluperfect tense in English. French uses two auxilary verbs, avoir and être, but English uses only one auxiliary verb to form this tense, the Past Tense of "to have" = "had".

March 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"être assis" being a state and not an action, it works like être + adjective (= be seated)

"étaient assis" is not pluperfect but imparfait = were seated. Pluperfect is "avaient été assis" = had been seated.

  • Present: sont assis
  • Passé: furent assis
  • Imparfait: étaient assis
  • Futur simple: seront assis
  • Passé composé: ont été assis
  • Passé antérieur: eurent été assis
  • Futur antérieur: auront été assis
March 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/adaitsman

Is there any difference between "had sat there" (correct, according to duo) and "had sat down there" (wrong, according to duo)? I'm not seeing it in English...

December 10, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1751
March 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SkrentyzMienty

Isn't "The five old men had sat DOWN there" also a valid translation?

January 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Yes, it is.

January 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pigslew

Thank you again. I shall report it quoting you!

March 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SuzanneNussbaum

Using the DOWN of "had sat down" is now accepted (8/14). The next frontier is to get DL to see that something like "had taken their seats" is a good and adequate translation, too!

August 13, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cielbleu1

Not sure why "the five old men had been seated there" is wrong. (not that they were placed there by someone)

September 11, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Because in your proposal "be seated" is a state, not an action. "S'asseoir" is "to sit down", which means a movement, so it needs: "had sat down" to convey this movement.

November 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/oskalingo

If you say to your guests “Please be seated” they will then perform the action of sitting down. “Please sit” sounds a little abrupt. So I'm not sure the distinction between state and action is as clear as you are describing, at least on the English side of the equation.

August 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

I agree about "be seated" used as a polite invite. But "soyez assis" would not do the job in French.

This sentence does not belong to social conventions but to a description of a past action. If it were a state, the French verb would look like "avaient été assis là" instead of "s'étaient assis là".

August 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vriendelijkspook

In English "to sit oneself" and "to sit" are synonymous (eg: "sit yourself down!", "he sat himself by the fire..."). I suppose the latter is just a contraction of the former that omits the reflexive (which in English is superfluous to grammatical requirements, not to mention far less discreet and efficient than in French!). In any case, despite sounding archaic and a tad colloquial/narrative in tone, I think it would also be correct to interpret this as "the five old men had sat themselves there".

April 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SuzanneNussbaum

I would agree!

August 13, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LordPaul256

'The five old men had sat themselves there.'

I understand the reflexive is not generally used in the English translation of the phrase, but given it's existence in the French, I am not sure if it would be inappropriate to use it. At any rate, this is currently marked wrong.

November 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gdobei

So the use of the reflexive form of a verb can potentially change its aspect? Any other example of this?

May 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

the reflexive form uses reflexive pronouns: me, te, se, nous, vous, se. in compound tenses, they use auxiliary verb être (vs avoir):

  • je me lave, tu te regardes, il se brosse, elle se maquille, on s'en va, nous nous asseyons, vous vous levez, ils/elles se garent.

  • je me suis lavé(e), tu t'es regardé(e), il s'est brossé, elle s'est maquillée, nous nous sommes assis(es), vous vous êtes levé(e)(s), ils/elles se sont garés(es).

May 12, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/adrienne58

We need a full section on reflexive verbs!

January 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnnaTall

we need a full section on various aspects of sitting down, be seated etc :); or make it two full sections :)

December 10, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThanKwee

I'm also confused.

So, "Les cinq vieux hommes étaient assis là" = "The five old men were sitting there"?

But, "Les cinq vieux hommes s'étaient assis là" = "The five old men had sat there"? hmmm...

"étaient assis" is the passive voice. So I guess that "were sitting" indicates passive voice whereas "had sat" is not passive voice.??

September 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"s'asseoir" is the action of sitting down -> s'étaient assis là = had sad there

"être assis" is the state of being seated -> étaient assis là = were sitting there

September 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThanKwee

Ah ha! Rather subtle. Thank you.

September 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SuzanneNussbaum

Just to add to what Sitesurf explained: to sit down = to take (a/one's) seat; definitely active voice. The five old men in our sentence HAD sat down / taken their seats / seated themselves, when... some other past action subsequently occurred.

August 13, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/renomrocha

Shouldn't we say "vieil hommes" instead of "vieux hommes"?

April 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

un vieil homme

un homme vieux

de vieux hommes

des hommes vieux

April 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chicodavidrn

I have yet another one that was rejected but seems like it might be right, is a normal English usage and was suggested to me by the reflexive pronoun: "the five old men had seated themselves there." - thoughts?

March 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dankules

"sat themselves down..." ? Because of the " 's '' ?

April 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ArpsTnd

I accidentally omitted the "t" in "there", why is it accepted?

February 2, 2019
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