Technically, vous veniez me voir could be translated as either "You were coming to see me" or "You used to come to see me" (if you had some context that showed it was a habitual action). If you want "You came to see me", use the Passé composé: Vous êtes venus me voir. (Depending on the actual number and gender of "vous", you will need to change the past participle: venu, venus, venue, venues).
The simple past in English is better rendered as FR Passé composé. It refers to a snapshot of a completed action. The imperfect tense used in several ways, one of the main ones is to show an action in progress in the past, hence, "you were coming...." See this link for some great information on the difference between these two French past tenses: https://languagecenter.cla.umn.edu/lc/FrenchSite1022/FirstVERBS.html
The idea is that "you were coming" describes an action that was in progress. It does not speak to whether the action ever stopped. That is irrelevant to the imperfect tense. The Passé composé is used to refer to a specific action that was completed in the past. Here is a great explanation of the difference between these two tenses. https://languagecenter.cla.umn.edu/lc/FrenchSite1022/FirstVERBS.html
The point of confusion for me is that in English 'you used to come to see me ' and 'you were coming to see me' mean completely different things. 'You used to comr to see me but you don't any more, what happened?' ;You were coming to see me but you didn't turn up, what happened?'.
Actually no. "You used to come see me" is correct. It actualy sounds more correct than the alternative to my native ears because the alternative puts undue emphasis on seeing me.
"You used to come see me" = "You used to come and see me": Coming and seeing me are combined into one action as you can tell from the inclusion of "and" in the more verbose version. So the "used to" negates both. You both stopped coming, and seeing me.
"You used to come to see me" = "You used to come for the purpose of seeing me": When you insert the "to", the "used to" negates only the purpose of the action. I would say this if you were still coming, but no longer to see me.
2 issues here:
- you had come is pluperfect = tu étais venu(e) - so, this is not an option.
- there is a bug in the program (that developers should be fixing soon) that contracts words that should not be contracted, like 'd instead of either "had" or "would". Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.
Best translations are therefore: you were coming / you used to come / you would come
Note that "you came" would back translate to "tu es venu(e)", ie compound past, with a different meaning and not the focus of this lesson.
If there was any kind of context (often, frequently, always, every week, etc), then it would work. There is nothing here to warrant interpreting it as a habitual action since we have no context. Otherwise, stay with the past continuous. [Edit: There is another perspective that the imperfect used in a simple statement would suggest a habitual action, but it could also be interpreted as a scene-setting description. Either "you would (or "used to") come (to/and) see me" and "you were coming to see me" are both correct. How it would be interpreted would depend on the context of the conversation.]
I've read this whole thread and I just want to scream. The difference in meaning between 'you were coming' and 'you used to come' is so clear in English.The latter implies that you turned up on more than one occasion. The former that you may not have turned up at all. Admittedly the former could be used as ' you were coming to see me twice a week when x happened', but if that is what the tense is for, how do you say, ' you were coming to see me this morning but you didn't show up?' It is the opposite of 'you used to come..etc'.
"You came to see me" in English can be a habitual past tense action when used in a reminiscing way and isn't necessarily the simple past. For instance: "Remember back when we were young? You came to see me. We did things." "I was in the hospital for 6 months. You came to see me. It was nice."
DaveMacFar is right. The imperfect is often (I would say almost always when referring to habitual actions) translated as the simple past, and this should be accepted. For example:
You came to see me all the time when I was little. We played outside every day. We sometimes went to the pool in the summer.
If I'm not mistaken, these would all be imperfect in French.
That is right, as long as you have a time reference to get the idea of a habit.
If you got "you came to see me", the translation would not be in imparfait, but in passé composé (tu es venu me voir), because you cannot guess the English sentence is about a habit or repeated action.
Without a time reference, the simple past in English could be either the imperfect or passé composé, because just as you cannot guess that the action was habitual, you also cannot guess that it was a one-time event without context.
You came to see me all the time. = imparfait
You came to see me once. = passé composé
You came to see me. = imparfait OR passé composé (depending on further context, which we don't get)
The issue here isn't the French translation, though; it's that the English translation "You came to see me" is still not accepted for the imperfect sentence "Vous veniez me voir."
"You" should always be accepted. "You all" is (1) an informal American expression that wouldn't be used in many registers of English, and (2) plural, whereas "Vous" can be either singular or plural. If you're putting "you" and getting corrected to "you all" when there are no other mistakes, report it.
That is part of the problem with those blasted contractions. One person says it means "you had", another says it means "you would". Let's back up a bit to see that there is no context in the given sentence to warrant the interpretation of a habitual action (i.e., using "would" to show a habitual action in the past). "You had come to see me" requires the French pluperfect tense (Vous étiez venu me voir), referring to a previous action in the past that happened before a second action in the past (more recent) which would be expressed in either the imperfect or the Passé composé.
Unless there is some context which supports the interpretation of a habitual past action (e.g., a time frame, when I was a kid, often, frequently, always, every week, etc), the past continuous will generally be a safe and correct translation for the imperfect tense when the verb is an action verb. If it is a stative verb, use the preterit (simple past).
This is a confusing contraction offered by Duo (already reported).
"you'd come" cannot be "you had come" (past perfect), but "you would come" that is not either a conditional but an expression of a habit in the past, like "you used to come".
Since the French imperfect "vous veniez" can express a habit or repeated action in the past, "you would come" is grammatically correct, but not very usual.
In the case of action verbs in imperfect, you will be safe if you translate them to a continuous past: "you were coming", for ex.
In a written exercise, mouse-over the French verb and click on the green "Conjugate" button, or open www.conjugation-fr.com or a French dictionary in another browser tab. Or open a conjugation or French dictionary app on your tablet or smartphone. You can switch back and forth as needed.
"you had come" is a pluperfect = tu étais venu(e)
"tu venais", in imperfect, can express a habit, like "usually, you came", that you can also express with "you used to come" or "usually, you would come".
So for your answer to correctly express a past habit, "you'd come" as a contraction of "you had come" is incorrect.