1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "Le pauvre homme ne savait pa…

"Le pauvre homme ne savait pas ce qui se passait."

Translation:The poor man did not know what was happening.

April 2, 2018



"The poor man did not know what was going on" was rejected. Reason?


It hadn't been added yet, but it is there now. I've been informed that changes made can take up to a week to be recognized by the system. If there is a problem after APRIL 10th 2018, please report it! Thanks. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/26750687

If you encounter future sentences with missing translations, please report them rather than leaving a comment in the sentence discussions. They are more likely to be seen in the reports than here.


The problem is, I post when I am unsure whether my answers are indeed wrong. I did not know for a fact, in this instance and many others, that DL had overlooked an acceptable translation. It certainly seemed likely, but I wasn't sure.

My post sought corroboration from others that I might indeed have answered the question correctly. If I report translations that I feel DL might have overlooked but don't simultaneously post to the forum, I will probably never learn whether an allegation of DL oversight is actually legitimate.


Fair enough. When in doubt, this is the place to go.


Why is "ce" needed in this sentence?


Les pronoms relatifs ce qui, ce que, ce dont sans antécédents.

They refer to ideas that "have not been expressed (before) or that are expressed later in the sentence (after)."

ce qui / ce que (what / that / which ) ce dont (same but) = object of a verb requiring the preposition de ...

Je ne sais pas ce dont il a besoin (avoir besoin de) I do not know what he needs.

* This form can also introduce a subordinate clause in indirect speech... (interrogative sentence from quote) Il se demande: "Qu'est-ce qui fait ce tapage?" --- Il se demande ce qui fait ce tapage. Elle demande: "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" --- Elle demande ce que c'est.


"ce" is "what".

  • Le pauvre homme ne savait pas ce qui se passait - The poor man didn't know what it was that was happening = The poor man didn't know what was happening


please can you explain why "se" is in the sentence but not in the translation, is it "..... what was happening to himself"


"Se passer" to mean "is happening/is taking place" is a fixed reflexive expression. Here, it doesn't mean what happened to the man himself.

Here are some more examples: Qu'est-ce qui s'est passé ? → What happened?
Comment se sont passées tes vacances ? → How did your vacation go?

  • 1843

Why is it ce qui and not ce que?


Use ce qui when a verb follows it. Il sait ce qui se passait.

Use ce que when a noun (subject) follows. Il sait ce que je disais.


"The poor man didn't know what was happening" is wrong?


It's correct and accepted. Be sure there are no typos in your answer. If it is rejected again and you are certain there are no mistakes, could you please get a screenshot? Rarely we encounter grading bugs.


I think my phone auto-corrected "poor" to "pour" then. I just tried it again and it's accepted.


Been there. One of my favorite t-shirts says: Auto-correct can go to he'll.


Finished my sentence with "happening to him." ... is this wrong??


This sentence doesn't state that what is happening is necessarily directly happening to "le pauvre homme."
That would be : Le pauvre homme ne savait pas ce qui lui arrivent.


In this sentence, does 'pauvre homme' carry the context of an unfortunate man, a man lacking money, or can it mean either depending on context?


Pauvre is an adjective whose meaning changes depending on whether it comes before the noun or after the noun.
Before the noun, the meaning is figurative. un pauvre homme = an unfortunate man
After the noun, the meaning is literal. Un homme pauvre = a poor man (not rich)

There are a number of adjectives like this: cher, ancien, propre, etc., and they all follow the same rule of thumb (before is figurative, after is literal). Here is a useful link.


Could this be translated as what had happened instead of what was happening?


Could one say qui ça arrivait?


If you remove the ça, yes. Qui acts as a pronoun here, the ça is not needed.

You can write: le pauvre homme ne savait pas ce qui arrivait.


why "pauvre" was written before "homme" ?


Pauvre can have two meanings depending on the placement of the adjective. Before the noun, "pauvre homme" means unfortunate; after the noun, "homme pauvre" means not rich.

  • 1313

"The poor man knew not what was happening"


It's a literary turn of phrase, but also correct. Added, thank you.


In which cases should imparfait be translated into English as: a) the simple past; b) past progressive; c) with the help of "would" or "used to", even though the past progressive itself indicates that the action was going on at a certain time in the past or that actions taking place at the same time or that the action in the pastt is interrupted by another action?


I thought qui was who?


So, in French as well as in English "poor/pauvre" can mean "unfortunate" or "pitiable" as well as "without money"?


The poor man's friends used to do something in his absence, so 'the poor man wouldn't know what was happening'. Why is it incorrect translation then? Any sensible explanation?


Why not "L'homme pauvre"?

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.