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  5. "Elle croyait sa mère."

"Elle croyait sa mère."

Translation:She believed her mother.

April 29, 2014



'Was believing her mother'


Why is 'They watched television' wrong, but 'She believed her mother' right in this exercise?

  • 2076

It's only that regarder is an action verb and so would naturally be used in the continuous sense with the imperfect past. Croire, on the other hand, is a stative verb, and not normally used in continuous tenses. This generally applies to verbs such as: être, avoir, aimer, croire, comprendre, penser, comprendre, etc.

  • 2076

"Believe" is one of the stative verbs and is not typically used in continuous tenses, so "Elle croyait..." = She believed (not "she was believing"). http://esl.about.com/od/grammarstructures/a/g_stative.htm


Yeah, "she believed her mother" sounds a lot more like past perfect to me than past imperfect.


depends on the intention. Because this form is used in this context I interpret it as an ongoing/incomplete action. she believed her mother and still does. if she would not believe her any longer, a different past tense would be required, but this is just my take on it :)

  • 2076

Past perfect would be "she had believed her mother". Present perfect would be "she has believed her mother" (or) "she believed her mother". This sentence is one which works in both French past imperfect and passé composé. The two tenses are not always interchangeable.


DL says the correct English interpretations are: "she used to believe her mother" and "she believed her mother."

In English these two sentences have very different implications. The first implies she no longer believes her mother as something has occurred to change that. The second simply states a fact that she believed her mother in some context in the past but does not give the implication that she no longer trusts her mother.

How are these two different expressions conveyed in French?


Slane, I believe the difference here could be conveyed considering imperfait vs passé composé tenses.

She used to believe her mother = Elle croyait sa mère. She believed her mother= Elle a cru sa mère.

I wouldn't dare to develop the whole explanation here, but I suggest you take a look at this link http://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/passe-compose-versus-imparfait , mainly at section 4. Hope it helps!


I wrote 'she believed in her mother.' and it is wrong. What's the difference between believe and believe in?


To believe her mother simply means to believe what she is saying, whereas to believe IN her mother would mean that she believes her mother can do it. For example: The mother says she has no money and the daughter says "okay, mother, I believe you". But if the mother said she couldn't make money like she used to, the daughter could say; "Of course you can mother, I believe in you, you can do it"!


Now my question and reason for visiting this page in the first place is, why is it "used to believe..." and not simply "believed her" as in, still does believe her? How did it become "used to" as in, no longer believes her??

  • 2076

In the course of struggling to see how the French imperfect tense should translate into English, there was a period where "used to" was being tacked on to many sentences rather indiscriminantly in the Imperfect section. As you point out, it is not only unnecessary, it introduces ambiguity into the English sentence that was not present in the French sentence. "She believed her mother" is the best translation of this. Check out the new Tips & Notes for this section.


Is this to say that the passé composé verb tense is always used to translate stative (state) verbs when used in an imperfait context? I am confused as when and when not to use ''used to'' when translating a sentence containing a stative verb. I have read and re-read tips and notes, and comments and remain terribly confused.

  • 2076

No, not at all. Just that most stative verbs in English are not used in a continuous tense. If the verb represents an action (not a state), then you would be justified in using the continuous tense. "Believe" is a stative verb, not an action verb. See here: https://www.thoughtco.com/differences-between-action-and-stative-verbs-1211141


Thank you, I understood it! The Imperfect Tense in the Latin languages is used when you're talking about something in the Past that doesn't still happen nowadays. (my mother tongue comes from Latin)

Simple Past: ------------------|(here)------------------||| (present day) Imperfect: ----------------|_____|------|||


such a good explanation


Correct me if I'm wrong, but passé composé is for actions that started and ended in the past. Imparfait doesn't specify whether the action is still happening or not.

There is a website which gives this comparison. If you asked passé composé if an action ended, it would say "yes". However, if you asked imparfait if an action ended, it would not answer "yes" or "no"; it would answer "no comment".


The action could have started and stopped in imparfait or in passé composé. But in imparfait, the action at least lasted long enough that other actions could have started and stopped in the middle of the action.

For example, Il pleuvait pendant 10 secondes, mais je suis rentré la maison. The rain started and stopped very quickly, but another action (*rentré) occurred in that short time period.


To Roody. You are correct, but you neglected to mention that imparfait does not specify an ending. So "Il pleuvait, alors je suis rentré la maison" is also correct. It could have stopped raining, but it may also still be raining. In passe compose, it would have stopped.


If I wanted to say "She believed in her mother," how would I say that?


i learned that passe compose is used for the continious events in the past. So the translation "she was believing her mother" is completely fits in this situtaion, I believe! So we really need an explanation here or correction in the translation maybe?

  • 2076

Actually, no. Passé composé is used for actions completed in the past, an action repeated a number of times in the past, and a series of actions completed in the past. http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/passecompose.htm

The Imperfect Past (Imparfait) is used to refer to 1) states in the past, 2) actions that were taking place in the past, and 3) habitual actions in the past. http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/imperfect.htm

The exception, if you would call it that, is that "croire" is one of the number of stative verbs and is not normally used in continuous tenses. So you don't say "She was believing....", but "She believed...." http://esl.about.com/od/grammarstructures/a/g_stative.htm


We would never use that construction in English. It sounds like the sort of thing someone speaking English as a second language would say.


I agree with those who say that "used to" implies that she no longer believes, and is quite different from "she believed". I think the imparfait tense is used because it is a feeling from the past. Because you had the feeling in the past does not mean that you no longer have it - the use of imparfait does not imply anything about today for a feeling. I think that is why Duo accepts both translations ... the true meaning depends on context.


It's her mother not his, isn't it?

  • 2076

That is the way it would be understood, of course. Grammatically, "sa" could be either "his" or "her", but in normal use it will be understood as referring back to the subject of the sentence. Examples:

  • Il est tombé de son cheval = he fell off his horse
  • Il est tombé de son cheval à elle = he fell off her horse
  • Elle est tombée de son cheval = she fell off her horse
  • Elle est tombée de son cheval à lui = she fell off his horse


Why is it "Il est tombé de son cheval" instead of "Il tombé de son cheval"?

  • 2076

It is Passé composé (Compound Past tense). It uses an auxiliary verb, like saying "he has fallen ...." The "has" is an auxiliary verb used with the past participle to form a compound past tense. Most French verbs use "avoir" as the auxiliary, but certain ones use "être". Passé composé may be translated into the EN Simple Present or EN Present Perfect tense. https://www.thoughtco.com/passe-compose-french-compound-past-tense-1368891

[deactivated user]

    Strange! In the answer in red, it says "She trusted her mother" and the answer above is "She believed her mother". Should "trusted" be the same as "believed IN"?

    • 2076

    The French use "croire à" to mean "to believe in".

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