1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "They couldn't travel when th…

"They couldn't travel when they were young."

Translation:Ils ne pouvaient pas voyager quand ils étaient jeunes.

May 21, 2020



Why not "quand ils etaient jeunes, ils ne pouvaient pas voyager"?


I turned the sentence around as you have...and I ask the same question.


Et maintenant, ils ne pouvent pas voyager parce que le covid


Ha! I thought of the possibility of saying 'Ils n'ont pu pas voyager quand ils étaient jeunes' instead. (passé composé .....+l'imparfait).


"Ils n'ont pas pu" would refer to a particular event in time. It would suggest that they suddenly became unable to travel, or they were unable to travel on a specific occasion. The imparfait is a better translation for "couldn't."

Note that, even if it were correct to use the passé composé here, your word order is not quite right -- it would be "ils n'ont pas pu."


It seems odd to refer to 'use to' in both clauses. The phrase does not say why they could n't travel only when they could not travel, i.e. when they were young. I believe that the translation provided should have been along the lines of, stating that when they were young 'ils etaient', followed by clear statement ' ils ne peuvent pas voyager'. It is all down to assumptions.


"Ils ne pouvaient pas voyager lorsqu'ils étaient jeunes." Also wrong... why?


Any particular reason?


Why is "de" not used as the negation, as was taught earlier?


In negations, indefinite and partitive articles change to de. There are neither of these in the affirmative statement :

Ils pouvaient voyager quand ils étaient jeunes,
so where would the de go in:
Ils ne pouvaient pas voyager quand ils étaient jeunes. ?


Really really really hard i jave been here since why too hard


09-11-2021 Duo also accepts:

"Elles ne pouvaient pas voyager quand elles etaient jeunes."

Was this information helpful?

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.