"Pourtant, nous ne nous sommes absentés que deux minutes."

Translation:Yet, we were away for only two minutes.

April 2, 2018



Most English speakers would say Yet, we were only away for two minutes. It doesn't sound right to end with "only."

April 2, 2018

  • 1665

Right. "Only" doesn't belong at the end. We would say "we were only away for two minutes". Fixed.

June 8, 2018


It's still grammatically correct to place "only" at the end, even if it sounds awkward. I'm glad the version with "only" in the middle is the default translation, but the other one with "only" at the end should be accepted too.

  • We only were away for two minutes
  • We were only away for two minutes ^
  • We were away only for two minutes
  • We were away for only two minutes ^
  • We were away for two minutes only

^ best versions

June 15, 2018


Is awkward syntax really "grammatically correct", even if the meaning of the sentence is more or less clear? IMO (In My Opinion), strange or unnatural ordering of words is bad grammar, because good syntax is part of good grammar.

The one sentence in this group which accurately states the thought is "We were away for only two minutes". The modifier is right in front of the thing modified. Can't be more clear than that.

Putting only at the end of the sentence violates the rule that adjectives come before the noun. Having it after the noun makes it sound like foreign grammar, e.g., French or German.

The further from "two minutes" that "only" gets, the more uncertainly is generated because this raises the question of whether "only" is an adjective modifying "two minutes" or an adverb modifying "were".

"We only were away..." is the worst: Does that mean "We only (and nobody else)" or We "only were" - and what does "only were" mean, exactly?

It's not that the general idea of the sentence is destroyed by playing around with the position of "only", but rather than the greatest clarity comes with the best grammar which comes with the best syntax.

November 21, 2018


Kayleigh is correct. "We were only away for two minutes" should replace the current translation or at least be added to the options

April 2, 2018


I don't see the French word for "only" in the sentence, so why is it wrong to omit "only"?

April 11, 2018


Perhaps you are looking for 'seulement' but 'ne ... que' qualifies a verb as 'only'.

April 11, 2018


When should to use(pourtant)?

April 30, 2018


What does "nous ne nous" mean in this sentence?

September 1, 2018


That's only part of the grammatical structure. The basic format to express "only" (besides using "seulement") is [subject] ne [verb] que, e.g., nous ne sommes que = "We are only" (literally, "We are not but....").

(This exercise is made doubly complicated because Duo is using a reflexive compound verb, which explains why nous appears twice and why there are two verbs (auxiliary + past participle = sommes absentés)

You can see this structure in the exercise: nous ne nous sommes absentés que, which should be translated as "we were only away" or "we were away only".

The translation doesn't accurately reflect the French in a literal sense - it should be (if more literal) "We were only away for two minutes", since the ne...que surrounds the verb, and should require that "only" be viewed as an adverb modifying "were away", but Duo has changed it to an adjective modifying "two minutes".

If Duo's answer were translated back into French, then it might better be something like nous nous sommes absentés [pendant] seulement deux minutes" or more plainly nous étions absents seulement deux minutes.*

Anyway, it's the ne...que which creates the only. If this is the first introduction of this structure, Duo certainly picked a complicated way to do so.

November 21, 2018


Why does the past participle "absentés" go inside the "ne...que" negation? Does "ne...que" not really count as negation because of its meaning even though it follows the negation grammar?

October 5, 2018


Apparently, que is placed in front of the element that is being restricted, here the number of minutes. It's not a typical ne...pas structure. It's pretty cool that this exposes a layer of subtlety, the examples in the source highlight this quite well: Il ne mange que des pâtes le samedi. versus Il ne mange des pâtes que le samedi. Source: https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/how-to-use-restrictive-ne-que-with-simple-tenses-to-express-only-negative-expressions

February 4, 2019


I was wondering about that, too. I'm going to repost the question for n6zs to read - he seems to know more about French grammar than anyone on this thread.

November 21, 2018


Why not, Yet we were absent for only ten minutes.. It was marked wrong.

January 3, 2019


It says two minutes, not ten.

March 14, 2019


I dont understand how nous ne nous sommes translates to "we were " wouldn't this be "we were not"?

February 1, 2019


Notice the negative is 'ne --- que', that is to say 'only' not 'not'.

February 1, 2019
Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.