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  5. "Vous ne faisiez rien."

"Vous ne faisiez rien."

Translation:You were not doing anything.

May 29, 2013



Correct translations:

<pre>You did nothing. You were doing nothing. </pre>

Erm... these 2 sentences do not mean the same thing...

  • 2042

Actually, it's imperfect (past) tense and the best answer would be [Edit: "You were not doing anything." Duo is still working on major fixes to this unit and will shortly put up some helpful Tips & Notes that should make it all very clear. ]


'You were not doing anything' is not correct?

  • 2042

IMO, it is the best answer. It means the same thing based on "Vous ne faisiez rien" and is both correct and articulate in English.


Yes, Duo accepts 'You were not doing anything'. [Dec. 2014].


"You used to do nothing" was marked wrong for me.

  • 2042

Let's put it this way, there has been a lot of water under the bridge from over a year ago. The clearest way to deal with this is that "used to" is only used when the context allows you to conclude that the sentence refers to a repeated or habitual action in the past. It's not an expression of a state but an action (or lack of one) which says that "You were not doing anything" really is the best answer for this. Some work is being done to post some instructive Tips Notes on the Imperfect Unit. So please check back to see when that gets put up. It should make it all very clear.


I'm confused by this as well. My understanding is that one of those should be imparfait and the other passé composé.

So "You did nothing" = "Vous n'avez fait rien" and "You were doing nothing" = "Vous ne faisiez rien". Different in English and different in French too...

  • 2042

I thought we had gotten through the woods on imperfect vs. Passé composé and this section was pretty well cleaned up. I guess not everybody is on board. Here is the best and most thorough explanation I have found so far on the difference between these two tenses. Have a look: https://languagecenter.cla.umn.edu/lc/FrenchSite1022/FirstVERBS.html


Yes, actually, it does. (this was for original post.)


Another exercise give this as an answer to, "You made a cake." Vous faisiez un gâteau. With that "said" it seems Vous ne faisiez rien could be translated to, "You didn't make anything." but the system "said", "Non!"


How would you say "you were making nothing" in French


"Ne rien faire" is kind of a fixed expression that means being idle. It would not be understood with the negative as "not making anything" unless the context makes it quite clear.


Why "You were making nothing" is wrong? How to say that question in French then?


Should be accepted, to me.

When would you use such a sentence (in English I mean) ?

That could help us find an explanation; because as far as I'm concerned, and as a native, I understand the French "Vous ne faisiez rien" with a "to do" meaning rather than a "to make" one.

According to a given context, I'd maybe say something like "Vous ne prépariez / fabriquiez / produisiez rien" if the English was "make"...

Otherwise, and out of context, you're right though : "you were making nothing" is theoretically correct.


Why is 'You did nothing' marked incorrect and 'You'd do nothing' marked correct?

  • you did nothing = tu n'as rien fait ("tu ne fis rien", but that's very literary, not oral, colloquial French). This means at a certain, accurate point of time (or at various specific points of time) in the past, you did nothing.

  • you'd do nothing = you would do nothing = tu ne faisais rien. This means for a whole period of time in the past, you were doing nothing (sort of "non stop"). It refers to a habit, a condition, in the past, whereas the first example refers to a (non) action, an isolated fact.


Why is "You would do nothing" incorrect? :l


Wrong tense - the question is past tense.


"Would" can be past tense, especially for habitual actions. "When you were a teenager, you would do nothing all day." Seems like as good a way of translating the imparfait as any.

  • 2042

There is nothing in the sentence to warrant an interpretation of a habitual action. With that consideration, keep to the past continuous for the most reasonable translation. If you had some modifiers (often, frequently, always, etc), then you could say "used to" or "would'.


I agree with mariana. "You did nothing" would be "vous n'avez pas fait rien"


I think you mean, Vous n'avez rien fait


Yes, I realised after I wrote it that I'd got a double negative!


Why is "You didn't make anything" incorrect?


Cause it's past simple.

"You were not making anything" / "You were making nothing" (or "you would make nothing") should be accepted though.


Well they now accept it as a translation. Grammar isn't my strong point so I'm not sure how correct or incorrect it is, honestly.


Of course, usage and context are more relevant than strict grammar rules, which is what I just tried to explain.

I guess it is now accepted because it makes sense, the use of past simple in English / imparfait in French is not so exceptional :

  • The guy was on the floor, screaming, and you didn't do anything !

  • Le mec était à terre, en train de pleurer, et vous ne faisiez rien !

That first translation would highlight the simultaneity, the fact that while the guy was screaming on the floor,you "were not doing" anything ; yet in English I believe (as a non native who's quite familiar with English though) that the use of "were not doing" wouldn't be natural in this case.

But in French you could say the former sentence, or this one, more similar to the English:

  • Le mec était à terre, en train de pleurer, et vous n'avez rien fait !

That second translation focuses more on the results, the final fact that you did not do anything.


Why is "you used to do nothing" not accepted?

  • 2042

There is no context to warrant the statement as a habitual action. Lacking that, stay with the past continuous: you were not doing anything.


What's wrong with "you wouldn't do anything"?


Why isn't ''pas'' necessary in that case? (sorry for bad english)


In general the form is ne...pas but pas can be replaced by a few alternative options. Rien/nothing, jamais/never, personne/nobody and a few more.

So "ne parle pas" is just "not talking" but "ne parle jamais" is "never talking" and "ne parle rien" is "saying nothing"


Mind that :

  • "ne parle rien" makes no sense. "Saying nothing" is "ne rien dire"

  • FYI, all the forms you suggested are imperative; so "ne parle pas" is "Don't talk", "Ne parle jamais" is "Do not ever talk" or "Never talk", and "Ne dis rien" is "Say nothing / Don't say anything"

  • if you want to say those -ing forms in French (to mean the fact of not doing something), then you must say it so : "Ne pas parler" (Not talking / To not talk), "Ne jamais parler" (Never talking / To never talk) and "Ne rien dire" (Saying nothing / To say nothing)

  • finally, to be accurate (and it's important to understand other cases and uses), the replacement words for "pas" that you mentionned, actually need the "ne..." to mean their English equivalents. So "nothing" is in fact "ne... rien / rien...ne", "never" is "ne... jamais" and "nobody" is "ne...personne / personne... ne". The negative part is included in the word in the English version; e.g. "nobody" = "no + body" = "no person" = "ne...personne" in French


The best translation (( you didn't make anything .))


Why is "you haven't done anything?" incorrect here?


You did not use to do anything,- not wonderful but imperfect tense and conveying meaning. Have I strayed out of tense, please.


That just makes no sense in English and I can't even begin to translate it to French. Even "you used to do nothing" is incorrect here:
To quote MOD n6zs:

"used to" is only used when the context allows you to conclude that the sentence refers to a repeated or habitual action in the past. It's not an expression of a state but an action (or lack of one) which says that You were not doing anything really is the best answer for this.


I put 'you was doing nothing' and was marked wrong.


The correct English is "You were doing nothing".

You never takes "was" always "were"


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