I don't think so. Maybe you're right, but I think "it was fine" would be translated as "il allait bien" or "il était bien", never with the verb faire. Not sure, but I think "il faisait" will almost always mean either "He was making/doing" or something about the weather. see this: http://www.linguee.com/french-english/search?query=il+fait+beau
Obviously this would be in the context of a discussion about the weather. On the other hand, in regard to your argument, I could say exactly the same thing. When taken out of context 'il allait bien' could be in response to the question "How is your brother?" "He is doing well".
Hi Chris! ;) I'm a French native. This one is a tricky one for sure! "Il fait beau" can only be use on the weather. Nothing else can "do beautiful", you can only "be, look, seem, etc., beautiful". But for the weather there is an exception.
It's almost like we implied that "mother nature made it beautiful today", we actually don't know who is the "il" in that sentence: god? mother nature? the sun? the force of the nature?
It's like when we say "il pleut" (it rains). Who rains? :p The verbe "Pleuvoir" (raining) is one of the only verbe in French that you can only use with "il". There is no "je pleux (I rain), tu pleux (you rain), etc.". It just doesn't exist (maybe in some romantic poem... but it would be for the purpose of art :p)
So it's kind of the same thing here with "il fait beau". You can only use that sentence for the weather. In no other context could you use that sentence.
So "it was fine" as you said, is more like: "Hey! How was the weather at the beach yesterday?"... "Meh... It was fine"
"It was fine" is translate as "C'était bien".... The situation was good, not necessarily the weather. Its the weather as a situation that was good.
Il fait beau, is only, strictly for the weather as: "It's sunny outside" or "What a nice day", etc.
I hope it helps and that my English is not too bad :p
Those of us who are translating this as 'It was fine' perfectly understand that the French sentence is specifically referring to the weather. When we use the word 'fine' in the context of talking about the weather it specifically means sunny, enjoyable (beautiful) weather. This includes in official weather reports (where it would look a bit odd to talk about 'beautiful' weather).
So 'It was fine' should be accepted because it shows the respondent has understood the French sentence correctly and properly translated it into natural English. Just as there is no explicit mention of the weather in the French sentence nor should there have to be one in the English translation (where we also often omit it).
Of course, 'The weather was fine' should also be accepted. But no native English speaker is going to translate this French sentence as 'It was fine' without them understanding that is talking about the weather.
When talking about the weather (pronoun + faire + adjective) you can use any tense, but only « il » for the pronoun. If you are using it in the sense of making something or doing something (pronoun / noun phrase + faire + noun phrase) like "we make cakes" then you can use any pronoun and tense.
We do occasionally use "would" in English for actions that happened repeatedly in the past. For example, we might say, "When I was a child, my uncle would read to me before bed." In the same way we'll occasionally use "will" to talk about repeated events in the present <-- look, I just did!
That said, it's a relatively rare, idiomatic, and redundant construction. I can see how "would be" might work as a translation for "faisait", but I still think "was" is better.
Actually you're wrong here in the sense that the use of will/would which you've described works only for non-state verbs (you can't use it with "to be, to have, ...", only with verbs which describe some action or habit). So, "it'd be beautiful" can't take the meaning of the habit in the past (at least not in the standard English), its only meaning is that of a conditional.
I'm not sure I understand properly, or maybe it's not that clear cut. Perhaps it is a regional thing or perhaps the language is changing and it's OK to use "would" with be and have (at least where I live) For example - "Oh yes, I remember him - he would always have a cup of tea with lemon, tip his hat and then leave." And we could say "We used to go on a picnic every Sunday. Invariably it would be a beautiful day/ or the weather would be perfect…" etc.
In "to have a cup of tea" the verb "to have" does not have a meaning of possession, of owning something; rather, it serves here just as a grammatical part of the phrase. It means basically "to drink", so it's an action obviously. I agree with you that in this case it's a perfectly fine usage, it's not the state verb any more. Regarding the second example you gave, I don't have anything valuable to add here to the discussion :)
(My views expressed here are not my personal opinions on the subject, they are just a short summary of several online English grammar lessons on the topic. I'm looking forward to any eventual corrections and critiques here, I'd like to know too what's correct and what isn't).
Ta - I was hoping you were a grammar "guru" (and I dont mean that rudely, I really do like to know) and could explain why those examples might work! I see what ypu mean about the have - I should have seen it before!! I don't whether the second example is something you would say/hear in your part of the world or not. I have seen the same recommendations about state verbs not being used with "would" but I think that in practice, it ain't necessarily so :) Having said that, it is probably best when learning to follow the "rules" (and then break them when you realise they can be broken)
Il est beau = he is handsome (so I suppose you could say beautiful since I don't think you can actually say IL est belle.)
So imperfect = Il était beau
passé composé = Il a été beau
Slightly different connotations with these two tenses. The imperfect is used for habitual actions in the past so nous allions = we used to go, so I think Il était beau is closer to what you are looking for. And il a été beau is more like "he was beautiful."
Thanks - but are you sure it has to be the imperfect? There are numerous examples of "elle a été belle" when describing someone who has passed away (which is the sense of "she was beautiful" in English). If French is your native language, perhaps you are right….I will link this thread to some other French natives and see if we can find out for sure.
For a description in the past, the imparfait is really the most appropriate, and it is the one we'd use for smeone who passed away.
But, passé composé isn't wrong, its meaning is very different though. It would apply to some state that would apply only at a precise point in time : elle a été belle une seule journée dans sa vie. Or if referring to a very long time ago (e.g. another era) for someone still alive today : l'elfe Arwen a été belle il y a 10 000 ans, mais aujourd'hui, plus du tout.
You can see how unusual it could be when referring to people's attributes. ;-)
puppy7989, I searched some more about this topic, and here below are two resources that I found to make clearer the distinctions in use of imparfait and passé composé, for all types of verbs and situations. What seems evident is that passé composé mostly applies to brief or punctual events, which makes it very strange for people's or object's attributes, since these usually last in time. And as such, they are more natural with imparfait, unless we mean some very precise effect as the examples I gave in my previous answer.
Thanks Bastou - I was just a bit confused - There's lots of hits for "elle a été belle". Sometimes it is referring to something other than a person (eg summer) but many other examples seem to refer to a woman. perhaps it is an older usage (or otherwise incorrect) I thought it must have to do with the way a woman's beauty is no longer so you use "a été" to emphasise that it is no longer (but not neca=essarily 100,000 years) :) Thanks again !!
Then how would you say ...... the weather used to be beautiful/nice. (Without an elaborate reconstruction of the sentence)
I know translation services routinely translate the French imperfect into the simple past for English speakers, but that doesn't make it totally wrong to not do so. Sometimes, although rarely, even English speakers will use the imperfect.
You can't just brush aside the French imperfect and say it doesn't exist just because it isn't very common in English.
But if il faisait beau doesn't mean it (the weather) used to be nice then how would you say the weather used to be nice without reconstructing the sentence as you did in your example.
You are saying that Duo is wrong because in your view faisait does not mean used to be. You say it means was. Not just that English speakers who are uncomfortable with the imperfect substitute the past tense, so simple French to English dictionaries do that as well. You are saying that Duo is wrong because there is no comparable imperfect tense word in English so the past tense has to be used, or that if there is a comparable imperfect tense word in English, faisait doesn't deliver it.
I am saying that the weather used to be nice is perfectly good English sentence. I am also saying that faisait provides that meaning. You say that faisait doesn't do that. That some other word has to be applied to say used to be or that you cannot sensibly say the weather used to be nice in English.
I can assure you that there are tens of thousands of English speakers in North America who are looking out their window right now and saying things like the weather used to be nice here. French speakers would say Il faisait beau ici
I think we are more surprised at the "It'd be beautiful" without any condition to make it conditional. Wouldn't that use the French conditional present? "Il ferait beau." I think in English idiom "It was beautiful." often replaces "It used to be beautiful." even when that last is the better choice, so both of those last should be accepted.
Yes, when you are translating the French imperfect into English the best thing to do is to use the English simple past, because usually that will suffice and that is the tense that English speakers routinely use.
My point is that if you want to learn to understand French it is a good idea not to simply ignore the tense the French uses and replace it with your preferred tense and treat it as if there is no difference.
There is nothing wrong with substituting the English past for the French imperfect because most of the time that makes for better comprehension. I do it myself much of the time when doing Duo exercises.
But it is a different thing to say that it is incorrect to translate the French imperfect into the English imperfect, simply because the result is sometimes awkward when used in casual conversation even when in the example given it is not awkward at all. This started with someone saying that the French imperfect is the English past and that it is wrong to suggest otherwise. It is not.
Don't ask your friends how they would translate the French imperfect into English for a more a natural phrasing. Ask them if the French imperfect is exactly the same thing as the English past.
The weather was beautiful, the wind was gentle, the stars were shining, the moon was a golden color and it was nice and warm, just right for night skiing.
Il faisait beau doesn't say anything about the wind, the stars, the color of the moon, the temperature or night skiing.
Nor does it say anything about the sun. All it says is that, the in the opinion of the speaker, the weather was beautiful.
Il faisait soleil/Il faisait DU soleil/Il y avait du soleil = It was sunny.
There seems to be a bit of variation with these three phrases amongst Francophones on different language forums, with many saying that Il y avait is more common, and that du soleil is never used (even though that is in almost every textbook for French learners and is correct according to larousse)
So if you want to specify sunny rather than a generally beautiful day, you can use one of those.
I hadn't thought of it, but as Northern guy says, it's "in the opinion of the speaker". Your beautiful day might not be the same as mine. If I love windy, overcast, rainy days, I may well describe such a day as beautiful, and I might find a sunny day unbearably glary and boiling hot so would never describe it as beautiful : )
Only two answers are acceptable here , but they are both wrong. This sentence means: 'The weather was nice'. If you say: ' Hier il faisait beau' it means 'Yesterday the weather was nice' , not 'yesterday the weather used to be nice', or 'yesterday the weather would be nice'.
This whole sequence with imparfait is impossible to do. To know the right translation, you have to see the sentence in a context, which is missing here.
The French prefer to use the imperfect and avoid the past. With English speakers, it is the other way around. They prefer to use the past when it is the imperfect that is intended, leaving it up to the reader/listener to figure out what really happened.
English speakers say the weather was beautiful until the cold front moved in.
French speakers say the weather used to be beautiful until the cold front moved in.
The English says simply that at one point the weather was beautiful and then a cold front moved in. The French says that the weather was beautiful for a noteworthy period and now no longer is because a cold front moved in. The English speaker intends the same thing as the French speaker but doesn't actually say it. He leaves it up to listener/reader to draw an obvious conclusion. Duo wants to know if you recognize the difference.
Il faisait beau = the weather used to be beautiful.
Mapping tenses across different languages is difficult and frustrating. But that is just how it is. That is why they are called foreign languages.
The imperfect cannot be mapped into English to always mean "used to".
Sometimes it does mean that. What's most important to understand the idea of description in the imperfect:
"The French imperfect (imparfait) is a descriptive past tense which indicates an ongoing state of being or a repeated or incomplete action."
But "used to" implies that something is no longer true. The imperfect doesn't.
No. First, there is no direct object (no "it") in the French sentence. Second, idiomatic expressions using the construction (impersonal) il fait [adjective] in French are always about ambiance/atmosphere/meteo : il fait chaud = "it's hot"; il fait soleil = "it's sunny"; il fait mauvais = "the weather is bad"...
Translating "He made it beautiful" would give Il l'a fait beau.
It isn't necessary to include weather in the translation, unless you are trying to convince a computer that you understand that generally the comment by itself refers to weather.
Since Duo has no other way of marking answers and computers are notoriously bad for making human kind of judgements about what people really mean when they write something, you just have to expect that sort of thing.
English has the word "it" which is a relic of the three-gendered system that English has come from and that most other Germanic languages still possess (masculine, feminine and neuter). English pronouns still use the Germanic system and some nouns are marginally gendered, e.g. "lion" & "lioness". However, English no longer has any gendered adjectives. The only time gender matters in English is when replacing a noun with a pronoun.
French, like most Romance languages, has two genders. This means it's not possible to map "he"/"she"/"it" perfectly to « il »/« elle ». So, in French, both « il » and « elle » can mean "it", with the choice of word determined by the gender of the word it's replacing.
When it comes to the weather, both English and French use a dummy pronoun meaning "it". "It's hot today" - « Il fait chaud aujourd'hui ». So, when « il »/« elle » refers to a person, it means "he"/"she". When « il »/« elle » refers to an object it means "it". The dummy pronoun is always masculine and singular in French, so the weather can't be « elle ».
In American English, we do use "out" at the end but often omit it, too. " But I guess it is the "out" that makes it clear we are talking about weather. Kudos and my sympathy to those who decide which answers to accept. It "ain't" easy ( to make an error we can ALL agree on)! English is evolving at a high rate, too. When I was in high school almost 40 years ago, you would be criticized for ending a sentence with a preposition or using "they" as singular, or even using " you" in place of the neutral "one."
English speakers sometimes include out to ensure the listener understands that the weather being referred to is that weather right outside where they are speaking at that moment. Out changes the comment from a general comment on the weather to a signal to the listener to direct their attention to the nice weather happening at that moment.