"Elle finissait de manger."

Translation:She was finishing eating.

April 3, 2018

48 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/bagen

Sorry folks, that is just bad english! she was finishing her food or she had finished eating!

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
  • 1694

You haven't found an error but a different point of view regarding what happened which is provided by the use of the imperfect tense. It focuses on the idea that the action (finishing her meal) was in progress at the time. I.e., not that she had finished (meaning that the action was already completed) but that she was in that moment still finishing it. This is one of the key features of the imperfect tense. If speaking about a completed action, there is no reason at all to use the imperfect tense. If you wanted to say that you would use 1) elle a fini de manger (she finished eating), or 2) elle avait fini de manger (she had finished eating). For an excellent description of this use of the imperfect tense, check this information from the University of Minnesota: https://languagecenter.cla.umn.edu/lc/FrenchSite1022/FirstVERBS.html

June 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

It is not wrong, but we do avoid two verbs ending in -ing one after the other like that. I might prefer “She was finishing to eat.” in this case. I think that I would usually say "She was almost done eating." Another different sentence would welcome a modal verb with the bare infinitive of “finish” and then “eating”, example “She must finish eating.”, but this is a different meaning.

In French, there is an infinitive used after the imperfect, so it flows much better. I checked your link and although it is an excellent resource with a lot of explanation about when to use each tense in French, it did not address this situation in English about two verbs ending in -ing. I will be using that resource, so thank you!

July 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/NoirinNica

It is wrong and 'she was finishing to eat' is even more wrong if that's possible!. As Bagen says ' she was finishing her food' is the correct way to express this.

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

Please show me your source of English grammar that shows this is impossible. Your sentence using a noun is a different sentence in Spanish. It is absolutely more common, but it is a different sentence. How about “I am about to finish eating.” ? No, that is a future tense, “She was about to finish eating.” would be closer.

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/paint-it-black

n6zs, I think the confusion here is that many people consider eating a meal to be a process delineated by two events, the start of the meal and the finish of the meal. Events are not continuous. Now you are proposing here that finishing a meal is also a process, i.e. that it is a synonym for 'finishing up' one's meal. I avoid this usage in English as I find it ambiguous. (If finishing a meal were a process rather than an event, then that process would have the same start event as eating the meal.) I surmise from the post here that I'm not the only English speaker who prefers to think of 'finishing a meal' as the event that ends the process of eating the meal.

So the key to translating this sentence for me would be to understand if in French this sentence is referring to the event, the process, or if it could be either. If it were a process, then I would like to write "She was finishing up her meal." Or even better, "She was just finishing up her meal." If it is the event, then "She finished her meal."

In general having two different translations for the same grammar form in French (one for events/states another for processes) leaves me wondering if in French speakers are thinking about all these things as processes. Take "hear" we are lead to translate this as an event because it is stative, but "listen" is a continuous action. Are we being forced to suppress the French speaker's understanding of process so as to make the English sentence work, or do the French actually have two different understandings for the same grammar form, depending on this stative/action even/process model?

.. If only we could see the sentence in context. "She was just finishing up her meal, when she discovered she was out of mustard." Poor lady. She probably didn't eat the last bit of her meat.

.. Anyone with many brothers would understand that a meal is like a foot race, and it has a start and and a finish. And in polite families, everyone at the table must reach that finish before anyone may get up and leave.

March 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NoirinNica

No it is an error. 'She was finishing eating' is not correct. As Bagen said the correct way to express this is to say ' she was finishing her food'.

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

Yes, that is more commonly said, but no it is not the same sentence.

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Ratchet111653

What about "She used to finish eating"? I was taught that "used to" is often a good translation for the imperfect, and it would make it seem like the action is complete as opposed to your only incomplete actions description.

September 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

That would be good for other verbs, but are you trying to tell me that she never finishes eating anymore? She used to finish eating, but now....

September 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Ratchet111653

I like your explanation. I can absolutely convolute a scenario where someone can't or won't ever finish a meal anymore and force my definition to work... But at some point I should probably realize I'm trying too hard.

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Peter435682

"Elles finissaient de manger" should have been accepted. Is it not entirely homophonous with "elle finissait de manger?"

March 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

It should be accepted, but only for the exercise in which you listen to French and must write down what you hear. All the homophones are not accepted yet. Did you report it? It will take a while to get them accepted as the sound is done out of house and those exercises were originally designed to accept only one answer each.

March 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Tony979198

what's wrong with simply saying "she finished eating"? Isn't that the meaning of the French phrase?

August 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

No, it is talking about a time during which she was finishing to eat. It is not about the ended action. This is the French imperfect tense or imparfait. “She finished eating.” would be “Elle a fini de manger.” which is the passé composé.

August 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
  • 1694

Except that there is no "finishing to eat". We would say "finished eating". However, the use of the French imperfect tense here indicates an action that was in progress in the past so we would say "she was finishing eating" in the sense that one is observing an action while it was actually taking place. The difference with "she finished eating" is an expression of referring back to a completed action, i.e., elle a fini de manger.

January 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

Do you recognize it better with a different verb? “ I was beginning to eat when the phone rang. “. Please show me something that proves this is wrong, because I would never say “I was beginning eating.

January 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Katherine188358

"She would finish eating" still not marked as correct as of 21 November 2018

November 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
  • 1694

There is no relevant context for an interpretation of a habitual action here. See the link provided above for an explanation that will help you see why "she was finishing ..." is appropriate.

January 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DonaldAlas

There is no context to tell you whether it is habitual or continuous, so both need to be accepted. It's clearly just another omission, since Duolingo accepts would in every other sentence where there is a possibility of a past habitual reading.

You say above "The notion of "she used to finish eating" is an absurd statement in English", which is a bizarre claim to make since it's a perfectly normal thing to say in English.

March 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

“Used to do something” is quite common in English, but “she used to finish eating” implies that she no longer finishes eating and if she eats then at some point she will be done eating, so, no, that is not common at all. Even “she would finish eating” implies that she habitually finished eating, but now...

So, yes, this sentence is different from some other sentences where those forms were accepted as correct.

March 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DonaldAlas

It doesn't imply that she no longer finishes eating, and even if it did, given a certain context, then why does that matter?

Example 1: "What would she do before she left?" - "She would finish eating." - No implication that she no longer finishes eating before she leaves.

Example 2: "Does she finish eating before she leaves?" - "She used to finish eating." - Implication that she no longer finishes eating before she leaves, still grammatically well-formed.

The idea that finish somehow cannot take habitual aspect in English is quite bizarre and I have no idea where you're getting it from.

March 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

Yes, those contexts would allow it, but those are uncommon, aren’t they? The point is instead of trying to make every possibility work, we should try to pick the best possibility for the sentence. You could try reporting it with your context in your report, to see if they will take it.

March 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Roody-Roo

This sentence clearly refers to a point in time when somebody was in the process of eating and was almost done with it.

Undoubtedly this is the backdrop for another action. "She was finishing eating when the phone rang." Or whatever.

This is a classic use of imparfait. Does it sound good in English? Not at all. But then, English has no imperfect tense, which makes translation a little ugly sometimes.

Actually, the translation I like best is, "She was almost done eating." But Duo doesn't like it.

March 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DonaldAlas

That's one possibility. The other possibility is that it refers to a repeated past scenario where she finished eating. Like any other French verb in the imperfect, it can have either of two very different aspectual meanings. Just like it could be "She was finishing eating [when the phone rang]", it could just as well be "She finished / used to finish / would finish eating [at 7 pm every evening]".

March 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Chris266434

Excellent link proposed by n6zs. Merci beaucoup. I was so puzzled with usage and difference between passé compose and imparfait tenses but after spending a few minutes reading that link, I was very happy to learn what I learned. The way it conceptualizes the nuances between the 2 tenses was very helpful.

November 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JorgLovoll

I wrote: Elles finissaient de manger. Will there be any phonetic distinctions here?

December 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

No, you are right. They sound the same. Homonyms are still a problem for the Listen to French and write it down exercise, so please report it as also correct for that exercise only, but don’t hold your breath. The sound is done out of house. It may be a long while.

December 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/aquillaz1

why do we need the "de"??

April 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CJ.Dennis

Before a noun or an infinitive, some verbs need "à" after them, some need "de", and some don't need anything at all.

"finir" needs "de" before an infinitive.

May 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Froggymack

I agree. Past continuous in English is oftenused when relating a past event which is then interrupted She was finishing eating when … I was driving at 100 mph when a dog ran across the road

August 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/jamascc

"Il finissait de manger" was translated as "He finished eating". Here, "Elle finissait de manger" is translated as "She was finishing eating". Both of these translations are in this same lesson (past imp). The inconsistancy is very confusing.

May 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandraselina

surely 'she had finished eating' or 'she is finishing eating' or 'she was still eating'

April 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CJ.Dennis
  • She had finished eating (complete in the past)
  • She is finishing eating (on-going in the present)
  • She was still eating (on-going in the past)
  • She was finishing eating (on-going in the past)

Only the last are in the right tense.

  • She was still eating (continuing)
  • She was finishing eating (stopping)

Only the last one has the right meaning, so unfortunately, none of your suggestions are correct.

May 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Ratchet111653

How would you fit "She used to finish eating" into this? Would you translate it to something other than what this asks for?

September 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

If you had a longer sentence, maybe it could work “She used to finish eating before I would get home, but now I get home earlier so we eat together.” It can’t work for this short sentence, because I hope she still eats and if she eats, she is sometimes going to be done eating. So she has to keep on doing it every day as long as she lives.

September 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
  • 1694

The notion of "she used to finish eating" is an absurd statement in English. The French imperfect has several different uses. Take a look here: https://languagecenter.cla.umn.edu/lc/FrenchSite1022/FirstVERBS.html

January 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Jim606185

In the nineties, she used to finish eating about seven. Nowadays she finishes about seven.

Not an absurd statement in English.

"She was finishing eating. " Now that's absurd.

February 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Roody-Roo

I totally agree with CJ Dennis.

Personally I would say "She was almost done eating." What do you think of that?

March 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NoirinNica

'She was finishing eating' is not good English in my opinion and a better way to translate and to get the right meaning is ' She was finishing her food' or her meal..

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

That would be « Elle finissait de manger son repas. ». It adds information that is not in the original sentence. I hope she is eating her meal, but we don’t know that. She could be eating candy or an ice cream cone. She could be eating all my cookies, and then she stopped and laughed. We just don’t know. All we do know is that she was eating and she was about to finish eating. She was at least in the process of finishing. She was almost done eating. Will she never be done? I have been waiting a while.

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/NoirinNica

Sometimes you cannot translate directly. For example the literal translation of the French expression 'ma pauvre' is 'my poor' but of course it is translated as 'you poor thing' or 'poor you'. Similarly in the example here English speakers would not say 'She was finishing eating' but would use a different construction which may refer to a meal, a candy bar etc. even if that wasn't in the original sentence. The purpose of these exercises is not to 'translate' the French sentence but to say how this sentence would be rendered in English and vice versa.

September 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Jim606185

"The purpose of these exercises is not to 'translate' the French sentence but to say how this sentence would be rendered in English and vice versa."

Thank you for explaining that.
The problem arises when the result is not English, but Franglais. When you spend more time trying to understand the English rather than the French, it becomes a barrier to learning.

February 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Roody-Roo

Sorry, but that is bound to happen, especially when we are learning a tense that doesn't even exist in one of the languages! There is no way it won't be confusing, but I'm sorry that this distresses you.

March 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

Yes, English is my primary language and French is my parents’ language. The purpose of these exercises is not to paraphrase when there is already a way to say it in English. We could try to get them to take “She was almost done eating.”, but your version adds too much that is unknown.

Ah, I didn’t see that you changed that. “She was finishing her food.” has a better chance than “She was finishing her meal.” You could try reporting that to see if they will allow it. By the way, I have heard people say “She was finishing to eat, when....” and “She was finishing eating.” is not technically wrong, just not commonly said.

September 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/cricri811231

what are the differences between ;

she was finishing eating and she was finishing to eat ?

what are the rules and their uses ?

October 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ALLintolearning3

There can be a preference to use one or the other depending on the previous verbs. http://www.business-class.fr/uploadfichiers/I%20like%20eating_I%20like%20to%20eat_Hot%20tip1_dec_011.pdf

“She was finishing... “ already shows that it was ongoing in the past so it is not necessary to add another verb ending in -ing and it seems redundant. We can just add “food” in English and everyone would understand that “finishing food” meant that “eating” was involved. The gerund such as “eating” is often used for the activity in general. “Eating” is my hobby.” Okay, not really my hobby, “Reading is my favorite thing to do.” “What do you like to do?” “I like to read.” We can often use either one. “What do you like doing?” “I like reading.” also works. I personally prefer the first version since the infinitive is timeless, but although -ing verbs are used in progressive or continuous tenses, the gerund which can be used as a noun is also timeless. Still the second gives the feeling of something that you spend time doing, while the infinitive can be something that you do and check off your “to do” list. “I want to eat a hamburger.” must use “to eat”. You cannot use “eating” there, an infinitive is required after “want”. You would have to come up with some strange construct to use it like “I want to find myself eating a hamburger in the best restaurant in town.” or “I want to be eating a hamburger whenever I can.” Why bother? That verb “want” is made to have an infinitive follow it. “Are you coming out to play?” “No, I have to finish eating.” What I have noticed is that we don’t like to use two -ing verbs in a row or even two infinitives in a row.

October 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SusanBlough

There was an exercise, just a few previous, on the same level - Il finissait de manger, which translated to "he finished eating" I need some consistency here!!!!

April 11, 2019
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