"He was to speak."

Translation:Il allait parler.

April 1, 2013



"he was to speak" could mean "he was going to speak", which would make the suggested translation correct. It could also mean "he was due to speak", which would be more idiomatic in English, and "il devient parler" would be correct.

April 1, 2013


"he was going to speak" = il allait parler

"il devient parler" is not correct. You probably mean : "il devait parler", which is a correct translation of "he was due to speak".

April 3, 2013


why not il etait pour parler?

January 29, 2014


You cannot translate it word to word.

The closer formula I can propose: il était sur le point de parler.

January 30, 2014


Which is more like: "He was about to speak"

July 14, 2014


"He was to speak" has definite implications that this was an intended action that did not occur: "He was to speak, but the previous speaker took all the time. He was to speak, but never arrived." "He was going to speak" isn't wrong, but this translation leaves an erroneous impression, imo.

January 11, 2014


in that case an closest equivalent would be something like that "il essayait de parler" or "il voudrait de parler" i suppose.

July 21, 2014


Il devait parler / Il allait parler / Il était sur le point de parler

July 22, 2014


Like the idioms, why does this not suggest the correct words ? When moused over, this offers the literal meaning of each word. Sometimes, with expressions and certain phrases, Duolingo offers the proper answers (and sometimes not). This threw me off because of the offered suggestions were not accurate with the meaning of the sentence

February 14, 2014


I think you have to recognize that the offered definitions are for the individual words and have no reference to the context in which one happens to come across them. As well, many words have multiple possible meanings, of which only a very few are offered.

I tend to think of the definitions as reminders, when I recognize a word but can't quite recall its meaning. If it's a brand new word, I need a more thorough introduction.

February 14, 2014


That depends, in some parts of the course the words you need to use are placed on top of the other words. They sometimes do this, but not always.

July 19, 2014


Agree. I'd understand if it had been taught before but Duo doesn't check for that :( Reported.

June 25, 2014


There is a subtle difference betwen "he was going to speak" and "he was to speak." The former is a simple statement of his intentions. It is possible that no one except him knew that he almost said something. The latter says that he was scheduled to speak, so presumably many people were surprised when he did not. Are both of these ideas translated by Il allait parler?

I assume that the French sentence has the same implication as the English; he did not actually speak. Grice's Maxims say that when a more complex form is used over a simpler one, the listener infers that the simpler one was false. In English, that comes from saying "he was to speak" or "he was going to speak" instead of simply "he spoke." In French, I'm guessing that saying Il allait parler instead of Il a parlé or Il parla leaves the same impression.

August 4, 2014


This is the first time I've heard of these Maxims - that's REALLY interesting. Many thanks for that - have a Lingot! :)

January 17, 2015


DL gave 2 answers; il devait parler and il allait parler, which one is correct

November 14, 2014


Both, with a nuance:

  • il devait parler = he had to speak or he was supposed to speak
  • il allait parler = he was going to speak
November 14, 2014


Coucou, SS. I'm unhappy with 'he was to speak <-> il allait parler'.

I am pretty sure 'he WAS to speak' = 'il devait parler'. Someone else had arranged it, but it did not happen.

I agree with GregH - he was going to /il avait l'intention de parler/il allait parler - perhaps this was only inside his head.

I was at a meeting. I had something to say. I was going to speak ... but I was too scared of the boss. [Il disait toujours "impose-toi!"]

I went to a conference. I was to speak, but my speech was cancelled.

Something to do with locus of motivation? Whatever. It just sounds wrong.


January 17, 2015


Does the verb aller doesn't need the particle á: Il allait à parler ? I guess French translation doesn't need the word to...

January 21, 2015
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