"J'ai été pris sous une averse."

Translation:I was caught in a downpour.

April 20, 2018

This discussion is locked.


Is 'I have been caught in a downpour.' wrong?


It's fine and it is accepted as well.


I personally would say "I was", which the grammar books would explain by saying it's the reason or origin of something (you're wet).


Q. Why aren't you here yet? A. I have been caught in a downpour and am sheltering till it passes.

I hope that doesn't happen today...just off on a walk now and weather looks lovely.


My (admittedly incomplete) understanding is that concepts one would write in English Present Perfect (Progressive and/or Simple) ... can end up in the French passé composé OR présent.

It all depends upon the context.

Passé composé can translate to Present Perfect Progressive

Here, passé composé translates to Present Perfect Progressive because of the expression of time length.... assuming that the day in question is today. I started to think about it this morning, and I'm still obsessing about it right now. The action is both progressive/ongoing and current.

Présent can translate to Present Perfect Progressive

  • «Il est beau depuis qu'il a coupé ses cheveux» = "He has been handsome ever since he cut his hair"
  • «Mon chien m'attend depuis que j'ai quitté la pièce» = "My dog has been waiting for me since I left the room"
  • «La fille attend son père depuis qu'elle a reçu sa lettre» = "The daughter has waited for her father since she received his letter"

For the above three, the French présent translates to English Present Perfect Progressive. georgeoftruth has a nice explaination here.

Back to your question....

Personally, given how little temporal context exists for «J'ai été pris sous une averse», I would translate it to the English Past, "I was caught in a downpour". There is nothing in the French sentence which suggests that the action has continued to the present moment.

In your exercises (which are interesting), you are adding temporal context not in the original sentence. The additions change which tense might be used when translating.

The crux of the matter is that (as Qwazicolt stated) French doesn't have an analog for Present Perfect. One must look at other elements in the sentence.

And I repeat that I'm still learning this segment of grammar. I expect a more seasoned person will correct a few things (well, hopefully just a few) and add more detail.

(Isn't language fun??)

EDIT: I suspect one of your examples is in English passive voice, which further complicates things.

  • I have been spoken to by the boss (passive) : The boss spoke to me (active)


This does look very helpful, but I need time, pen and paper to digest it. Thanks you for your time in posting.

How is 'have been spoken to' different in tense to 'have been caught in'?

If I were caught in a speed trap instead of in a downpour I could say 'I have been caught in a speed trap' ('I was caght in a speed trap' or 'the speed trap caught me'.

The fish has been caught in the net. The net caught the fish.

Now I'm just playing with sentences. I need to read your post in detail, and if that doesn't make it clear to me I think a bilingual English/French grammarian is needed to help me.

Or I just need to drop the whole matter. But, as you say, language is fun, and I just want to know the answer.


If a sentence is in passive voice, the French Passive Passé Composé is used (link).

  • Ce document a été lu par mon père. — That document has been read by my father.
  • Ce chat a été adopté par des gens gentils. — That cat was adopted by some nice people.

Since that adds another layer of complexity... I'd suggest sticking with active voice sentences. E.g., solve one layer of the problem at a time.


I have now read your posts with pen and paper, and looked at links given. I now partly understand, but I do find all the grammatical terms quite confusing.

I do wish I could learn French without having to learn all these terms for both English and French grammar. As a baby I learned English without learning grammar, and it is hard to start learning it now.

But I persevere, slowly.

Thanks for your input.


Here's a cheat-sheet for English tenses. (I use it all the time)

You can download it from here: https://i.imgur.com/DrPUwlf.jpg


Flag it if you think it's likely. We shouldn't be looking for every possible translation, of course, only enough to cover normal situations.


I would have flagged it but I wasn't completely sure I was right. The more I think about it the more certain I am. It is a matter of tense, rather than how common this particular DL phrase would be.

I have been delayed every morning this week by road works.

I have been spoken to by the boss.

I have been looking for new shoes.

I can think of many similar constructions in English, and if the French translation is 'J'ai été', then I now think my translation is closer to the correct one than the one DL gives.

If I get the sentence again I will report it. I have no way of reporting it that I know of now until it comes up again.


If Anne has been looking for new shoes, my understanding is that she has not found them yet.


Thanks. I 'have been' given a pay rise, so the fact that I 'was' spoken to by the boss was not so bad!

'Have been' and 'was' are different. I found this


I would like to know if they are different in French. I am going to ask this question in a new thread as no mod has jumped in here.


"Pris" shouldn't change to "prise" for female voice?


Hi D3XT3RY0NuT. Duo has confirmed that whether the synthesized voice is male or female is quite random, and therefore the apparent gender of the voice will be irrelevant to the exercise. So, as French defaults to the male gender…… But, hey ! Genuine respect for a great bit of over-thinking. Bonne weekend !


Is "rainstorm" not the same as "downpour"? It has been all my lifetime!


Consider the root word "verser" (to pour) when you see "averse". That will help you remember it as "downpour". It's not a little shower.


Salut n6zs. Thanks for that – it’s a really useful little ‘aide-memoire’ !

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