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"We weren't in the habit of winning!"

Translation:Nous n'avions pas l'habitude de gagner !

June 14, 2020



On n'avait pas l'habitude de gagner. Accepted :)


Could anyone explain why it's l'habitude and not d'habitude after the negative?


The rule where you replace the object's article with "de" when the sentence is negative only applies to indefinite articles ("un", "une", "des") and partitive articles ("du", "de la", "de l'", "des"). It doesn't apply to definite articles, like "l'" in this sentence. As another example, it would be:

  • "I have apples" = "J'ai des pommes"

  • "I don't have apples" = "Je n'ai pas de pommes", with "de" replacing the partitive article "des"

  • "I have an apple" = "J'ai une pomme"

  • "I don't have an apple" = "Je n'ai pas de pomme", with "de" replacing the indefinite article "une"

  • "I have the apple" = "J'ai la pomme"

  • "I don't have the apple" = "Je n'ai pas la pomme", with the definite article unchanged


Thanks so much. I answered "Nous n'avions pas l'habitude..." without thinking about it, but then couldn't understand why it was right!


why is it not nous n'etions pas


when do you use the present participle (gagnant ?) instead of the gerund (gagner)?


A few points to touch on here. First, when you say gerund, you're referring to a gerund as defined in the English language, which is functionally different from what a gerund is in the French language. In French, the gerund form would actually be "en gagnant". I'll call the French gerund "le gérondif" to avoid confusion with the English gerund. Le gérondif is not used as a noun, but only to express an action that's happening relative to another verb. It often translates to "while [verb]ing" or "by [verb]ing" in English. For example, "Je lis en mangeant" = "I read while eating"; "Je suis devenu fatigué en courant" = "I became tired by running".

So then, how does French express verb actions as nouns, if not with le gérondif? The verb construction in French that performs the equivalent function of the English gerund (i.e. acting as a noun) is the infinitive. That's why in this exercise, the correct answer uses the infinitive "gagner".

Then finally, what's the difference between le gérondif and the present participle by itself without the "en"? The answer is that le gérondif modifies a verb, while the present participle without "en" modifies the nearest noun. As an example, consider:

  • "J'ai vu Marc en sortant du bureau" = "I saw Marc while leaving the office." The gerund "en sortant" is modifying the verb "avoir vu", meaning that the seeing is happening at the same time and by the same subject as the leaving, so I am the one who was leaving.

  • "J'ai vu Marc sortant du bureau" = "I saw Marc leaving the office." The present participle "sortant" is modifying the nearest noun, Marc, so Marc is the one who was leaving.

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