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  5. "Maybe it was really my imagi…

"Maybe it was really my imagination."

Translation:Peut-être était-ce vraiment mon imagination.

March 11, 2013



Would "c'était vraiment ..." Be correct, too?


Yes, in less formal way, but we would add "que": "peut-être QUE c'était vraiment mon imagination".

By the way I am not sure that the combination of "maybe/peut-être" and "really/vraiment" is relevant, in either language. But it is another story, not related to your question.


It's one of those word combinations that doesn't make a lot of sense if you think about it, but people would say this sort of thing nevertheless, at least in English.


Don't know about the implications in French, but there's nothing wrong with the Maybe/really usage in English. "She's been telling me all along that I couldn't have seen a leprechaun, perhaps she's right. Maybe it really was my imagination."


I agree - very common in English - but in English, as you have written, "really" should be placed before "was" in this sentence. Placement of adverbs in English is tricky and here "really" is functioning as an intensifier I think - complex stuff - really!!


You can say "Maybe it was really my imagination" as well, in a really informal context.


: ) Definitely can, but for me it places the emphasis elsewhere and changes the meaning of what has been said. And now that I re-read the french, I am not convinced that I understand exactly where the french emphasis is in the above sentence !! Just when I thought I had nailed this one.....

She was really beautiful. (She was very beautiful)

She really was beautiful. (Just emphasing that unquestionably, she was beautiful)

Really, she was beautiful (Truly, honestly...)


In French, the adverb seems to come after the verb that it modifies. In this case, the verb is inverted with its subject, but that seems to be treated as a unit, so vraiment is modifying était-ce. In your English sentences, you have really modifying the adjective, and then the verb; in the third sentence, I'm not sure how to describe it grammatically, but you should have a comma after really, "Really, she was beautiful;" it's set apart from the sentence proper, which is a thing you can do with adverbs in both languages. In "Maybe it was really my imagination," you have a sentence which isn't exactly "correct" (because the adverb comes after its verb instead of before), but is still acceptable in informal contexts. In speech, I would place the emphasis on "really" (whereas in "really was" I would emphasize "was"), and it implies a stronger sense of doubt. At least, that's my quick analysis; I'm no English professor.


What about "Peut-être qu'il était..."?
I've entered it without the 'que' and it was marked as a mistake because I should have used 'ce'.


I was given the correction 'Peut-etre c'etait mon imagination' without 'que'.


I used "c'etait vraiment. . . " and they counted it correct. (And I did not include "que".) What I want to know is why would they use "etait-ce?"


Because "peut-être" implies doubt, it often prompts a semi-interrogative construction with inversion verb-subject pronoun.

It is more formal than the statement construction but both are used.


Sitesurf, Thank you again! A lingot for you! (How do you spend yours?)


Thank you for that Willijanb.

Very good question! I use my lingots as rewards for any good contribution I see on any thread, but I still have 1,525 left...


Wow! I'd give a lingot too, but I'm poverty-stricken (lingot-wise) compared with you! :)


Just a strange colloquialism! I suppose we just have to learn them - not understand them.


Oui, mon ami. I used it, and I acquired a correct answer.


Is this imperfect (and not passé composé) because it is a state of mind in the past?


Être in the past tense is nearly always in the imparfait because being is not usually quickly-complete, one-time action.


Sorry, but that is not right. For quickly-complete, one-time actions, we use the passé composé (compound past), because imparfait generally implies a lasting action in the past, or repeat action or habit.


That is what I was attempting to express. Apparently I did not do so very clearly. Apologies.


Sitesurf, thank you for always being there to set us straight!


I thought you had to use "peut-être était-ce" or "peut-être que c'était" (one or the other), but the possible results include "peut-être c'était." Is that last one technically correct?


Yes, it is technically correct. However, if we want to state it (rather than using a semi-interrogative form), we would rather say: "c 'était peut-être..."

  • 1852

Is my French dictionary wrong ? It gives "imagination" as a " noun, feminine ."


You use "mon" because it begins with a vowel, even though it's feminine.

  • 1852

Thanks again. I don't know when I'm going to get that in my head !


Does this rule apply for all nouns starting with a vowel?


yes, + those starting with a non aspirate H

-mon habitude (fem)


merci beaucoup, this can be very useful.

  • 2454

Virtually all French words ending in ion are feminine. Some exceptions: lion, scion.


I know this is imperfect tense but I just want clarification on c'est vs. il est. I thought "C'est" was used before articles, pronouns and adjectives and il est was used before adverbs. Thus: C'est une pomme. C'est bon! mais il est trop tard. Would someone please clarify the use of c'est vs. il est. Merci beaucoup...


Hi - check this link and see if it helps. I found her explanations really clear and I think I have the difference nailed - at least for now :)



Absolument le meilleur!!!! Merci beaucoup. Je comprends!!! :-)


De rien - she has a real gift for explaining the language. It's worth trawling through her old blog posts. She has lots of info about the french of "now", not of yesteryear :) Good to know them both of course!!


this phrase is a question??


The minimum requirement for a question is a question mark at the end (?).

So this sentence is a statement and not a question.

But, when a sentence starts with "peut-être", thereby implying a doubt, an inversion Verb-Subject is made in French.


Maybe Peut-ētre était-ce seulement mon imagination, would have made more sense. ???


As I said earlier on this thread, "peut-être" and "vraiment" do not go together well: one is hypothetical and the other one is certain, so if we could rewrite the original sentence, we could indeed adopt your approach.


My dictionaries make imagination feminine?


Your dictionaries are correct. You use "mon" in this case because "imagination" begins with a vowel. An adjective modifying "mon imagination" would still have to be the feminine form, however.

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