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  5. "Tu ne connaissais pas ça."

"Tu ne connaissais pas ça."

Translation:You did not know that.

June 16, 2013



The very last question that I did on this lesson was:

Tu ne me trouvais pas. The correct answer was: You wouldn't find me.• You could not find me.

You did not find me was explicitly rejected there by Duo. Commentators on that thread patiently explained that would/could was the appropriate translation for the imperfect negative. Did not wouldn't work because it was simple past.

On this example did not not only works but is the required answer. Would/could not is suddenly not only not the best way to express the imperfect negative in English, it is actually not even allowed.


Thanks Northernguy, I fixed both.


Thank you very much. My concern wasn't the lost heart. I was finding it very difficult to figure out this lesson because I kept getting so many errors.

Thanks to the Duolingo Notes app I was able to see the problem wasn't just mine. Teaching moving translations of different tenses across languages is not easy. It is hard for students to grasp the subtleties of their everyday usage. My personal issues were with the Duo method of dealing with the negative imperfect. Sometimes just use the past, sometimes not.

Amazeballs speed of response by the way. Again, thank you.


So, I'm still confused. Is "You would not have known that." a correct translation? I don't mind losing a heart, but as you say, moving translations confuse me to no end.

  • 2099

Hi, Bonnie. The reason is that in your sentence, "would know" is conditional. In applying "would" or "used to" to in the sense of the imperfect tense is to indicate a habit. The negative structure rather confounds it even more. Add to that connaître is a stative verb and it rather destroys the idea of using "would" here. The simple preterite is best in this case. [Edit: okay, English "to know" is stative but "connaître" is not. Tnx SS].


Just a detail: "connaître" is not a stative verb; "to know" is a stative verb.


Thanks. I will now look up all those technical terms and learn something about English grammar as well. :)


I was marked incorrect for "you would not have know this."



Your choice of construction requires ..you would not have knowN. .......Using have impacts it's auxiliary. have seen, have been, have forgotten, not see, be, forget.

You would know, you could know, you did know, you will know....you have knowN;


"Duolingo Notes app" I know I could and should just Google this, but would you care to elaborate? Is this just a mobile thing, or can you get that on all platforms?


Duolingo Notes app

Works on Chrome browser. Sits on menu bar. Single click of Duo example and answer is loaded into a single line display of a searchable database. Single click opens database with the last dozen or so entries displayed

Loads example, Duo answer, your answer and box for comments on to a single line. Available at Chrome app store. It's free.

It makes it possible to confirm that Duo treated an identical or similar example in a different way. It's better than using a dictionary or google if the material has already been presented.

I use it extensively the first time through a lesson and then repeat without it after single click deleting all the data.


Sounds cool; thanks! Off to check it out!


So Duolingo Notes is available from the Chrome Web Store, which is new to me? Just took a look, but apps from that Store are apparently not available for Android (despite Android and Chrome both being from Google), or IOS for that matter. Seems to be aimed at PCs only. (I use Chrome on my phone and Firefox on my PC.)


I put 'you had not known that' (is that acceptable btw?) but it still marks the correct answer as 'you did not know that'...


you had not known is pluperfect, a compound tense (in two words: auxiliary + past participle).

the French pluperfect would be: tu n'avais pas connu ça


okay cool. hopefully the 'correct answer' part can be fixed :) thanks again.


The translation for 'she (used to have) HAD six dogs' was 'elle avait six chiens'. I guess this is just a side effect complication of both avoir and the English to have. HAD can be possession in imperfect or be pluperfect, if you follow my drift, and goes into other tenses, also. A three lettered word has become striking.


Can I ask what you fixed? "Did" is still the translation given, but northernguy is saying people explained to him "did" was wrong for a similar sentence. Does this mean those people explained it wrong?


I don't remember what I exactly fixed 2 years ago.

What is important is that "to know" is stative in English and as such, its past simple can translate the French imperfect and compound past, for lack of another natural option, especially in negative.

On top of it, "to know" has 2 distinct translations in French - "savoir" and "connaître" -, and as usual "you" can translate to "tu" or "vous". This is why "you did not know that" can have a long list of possible translations.

  • You did not know that = tu ne savais pas, tu n'as pas su, vous ne saviez pas, vous n'avez pas su, tu ne connaissais pas, tu n'as pas connu, vous ne connaissiez pas, vous n'avez pas connu... cela/ça.

With action verbs, you do have more flexibility to translate a French imperfect to a more precise meaning.


@sitesurf, You said,"What is important is that "to know" is stative in English and as such, its past simple can translate the French imperfect and compound past, for lack of another natural option, especially in negative."

What did you mean by "compound past". You mean "passe compose."?


Yes, passé composé = compound past.


@sitesurf, why not ."I did not recognize that."

Also, you said,"Just a detail: "connaître" is not a stative verb; "to know" is a stative verb." But "connaitre" means "to know." so why isnt "connaitre" a stative verb. Its shocking to me that "connaitre" is not a stative verb. Why not? What do you mean when you say "to know " is stative but connaitre is not.


to know = connaître / savoir

to recognize = reconnaître.

Stative verbs are valid in English grammar but not in French grammar where such classification does not exist. French grammar has "state verbs": être, paraître, sembler, demeurer, rester, avoir l'air, passer pour, devenir.


when I was growing up, these were simply called "non-action" verbs in English grammar. Evidently they're now known as "stative." I liked the earlier term....little easier to grasp.


@sitesurf, On one hand you say stative verbs dont exist in french grammar. But on the other hand you say "French grammar has "state verbs": être, paraître, sembler, demeurer, rester, avoir l'air, passer pour, devenir.". I didnt understand. Can you please explain. I am confused.


The French state verbs (verbes d'état) describe a state and can be followed by an adjective, of which grammatical function is called "attribute".

If you compare this list to the English list of stative verbs, you will see that the classification is completely different.


In any event, in French "savoir, aimer, vouloir, voir, entendre, comprendre..." (all stative in English) are used and conjugated exactly as any other verb.


I agree. I got confused on that, too. I don't see a distinction between what we call stative verbs and they call state verbs. Aren't they the same?


@sitesurf, Follow-up question. Regarding,"The French state verbs (verbes d'état) describe a state and can be followed by an adjective, of which grammatical function is called "attribute".", what would that adjective modify. I thought verbs are supposed to be followed by adverbs. That adverb modify the preceding verb.

I wonder if you made a typo. Did you mean adverb, but end up writing "adjective" by mistake?


State verbs describe or define the subject, which can be done with an adjective.

  • Le chien est gentil = the dog is nice.

"gentil" describes the subject "chien". The grammatical function of "gentil" is "attribut du sujet".

This works with all state verbs:

  • Le chien paraît/semble/demeure/reste/a l'air/passe pour/ devient gentil = the dog appears to be/seems/looks/remains/becomes nice


Ah so you work for Duolingo. That explains it.


No, I don't work for Duo, I work for you!


And please stay...Sitesurf


Why was "you did not used to know that." rejected?


If you want to use the negative with a past habit with 'used to', the sentence should be translated like this:

'You didn't use to know that'



I also translated this way and was marked incorrect, but I don't understand why.


Me too, would also like an explanation.


I had thought "Connaitre" was for knowing people, & "Savoir" for things, facts, information etc. Is it OK to "Connaitre quelquechose"?


yes it is:

  • "je connais bien Paris, j'y ai vécu 10 ans",

  • "il connaît les chevaux et c'est un bon cavalier".

  • "tu ne connais rien à la mécanique, tu ne sais même pas changer une roue"


Thanks - I can see how the two verbs overlap in meaning. Excellent help, as always!


In my French class, we learned that connaître is used or followed by a noun (can be modified noun), whereas savoir is used with verbs (some exceptions: la poeme, le langue).


This is true but not complete:

"connaître" is used with people and places:

  • je connais Paris, je connais cet homme,

and with general matters:

  • je connais la géologie.

"savoir" means:

  • "know how to" when followed by an infinitive: je sais faire des crêpes or
  • "be aware of" followed by a subordinate clause: je sais que tu vas bien
  • "know by heart" in front of a noun: je sais ma leçon.

le* poème, la* langue


Hi Sitesurf,

In the case of this sentence :

"You did not know that"

would it be possible to use either Savoir or Connaître?

Merci beaucoup :]

Thanks for your answer Sitesurf :]


Yes, because in this sentence "ça" can be a single thing/fact or a situation/concept.


'ais' in connaissais is pronounced [ɛ], while the 'ez' in connaissez is pronounced [e]. Is that right, please?


I am sorry we don't have a phonetic resource here.

connAIssAIS, poulET, il EST, père... all are pronounced [ɛ] (re. they) - open-mouthed

-ez, eh !, et... are pronounced [é] (re. Beyoncé]


hurm... I'm not sure but I've been taught that il EST, poulET as [é]. Now I'm pretty confused lol


so, you were taught wrongly... unless your teacher came from one of our provinces who have "an accent"


Perhaps some regional variations because my french teacher was a native french speaker. But I need to say that I'm not really good with sounds and as far as I can remember I had a hard time with when to use [é] or [ɛ].

I checked with forvo and I found that both are used.

http://www.forvo.com/word/est/#fr (the wiktionary says [ɛ] though the third person sounds [é] to me)


Another case that intrigues me is the pronunciation for the ending of imparfait and passé composé, say, parlAIS and parlé. I heard that in Quebec for example parlAIS is with [ɛ] and parlé is with [é] though certain people just pronounce both as [é].

Another would be j'aimerAIS and j'aimerAI, again I without 'shame' use [é] for both though I know that some do use [ɛ] for j'aimerAIS.


When we learn English in France, it has to sound Oxford/Cambridge, UK, not Dallas, Texas. Similarly, when you learn French it has to be "as pure as possible", which is allegedly located in Tours, France.

"j'aimerais" is definitely è, while "j'aimerai" is é - it helps a lot to understand what people are telling you (conditional vs future).

but I know that some people, namely in the south-west of France, tend to use é nearly everywhere. They also tend to pronounce "jaune" like "cost" while the "official" pronounciation sounds like "coast".

By the way, Google/Translate is very convenient and generally very good at pronouncing French.


I just happen to plunder on the net for information. Got some information that might be of interest.

[e] ou [ɛ] ? http://forums-enseignants-du-primaire.com/topic/273771-e-ou/

prononciation du "e" sans accent : [e] ou [ɛ] ? http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1515614


Certainly but there're definitely more efforts being done to encourage a standardised English; pronunciation in particular. But I hardly see the same effort with French educational materials.

Furthermore, language is a social tool and most of variations come from the social milieu in which it grows.

I think what I'm trying to say is that language variations are acceptable but efforts must be done when it transcends the social/economical/national barrier. It's like when we speak to our close friends or family, we tend to use the language differently(dialect for example) as oppose to when we communicate to a larger audience in more formal settings.

So while it's preferable that French people maintain their regional exceptions, it is also important to have something like RP English that connotes some neutrality with regard to your social class or origin.


I agree on the stress on pronunciation but it seems to me that there is very little reliable resources in French that can claim the same status as RP English.

Accent is another thing that I find resources are available for English learners (British accent, American accent, Reducing accent) but one could barely find anything like that for French.

So this suggests to me that French is more decentralised as a language.


I don't know which is more decentralized. If you consider the size of the ex-British empire, chances are that English accents may be extremely variable around the world.


Just so you know, there are does not contract to "there're". The is no such word in English.


how do you know when it is acceptable to use past tense as past imperfect tense? Is it when the past imperfect tense translation is rarely used in English?


The French imparfait conveys the concepts of:

  • a lasting action, best translated by the English continuous past: il y a une heure, je marchais = one hour ago, I was walking.
  • a habit or a repetitive action: quand j'étais enfant, j'allais à l'école à pied = when I was a child, I used to walk to school // I would walk to school.

Of course, some verbs don't use continuous forms, and you often use simple past depending on context, but if you remember the key words above, you will better translate from English to French.


A number of these imparfaits have bren translated 'used to (verb). Now on this one it is 'use to connassais.' What's with that!


Your question is difficult to follow, but I'm going to guess that you are contrasting "used to (verb)" with "didn't use to (verb)", and the difference is in the negative phrasing, which includes the auxiliary "didn't". It's the same principle as "rode" vs. "didn't ride", or "spoke" vs. "didn't speak".


Why is "you were not knowing that" wrong? How do I know when to use the English past and when not? This is very frustrating.


The progressive tenses in English imply some kind of ongoing process. In the case of "know", you either know something or you don't, so the progressive tense does not apply.


Why does this sentence use connaitre instead of savoir?


Both "savoir" and "connaître" can be used, for lack of context.


isn't "ca" here "that"? and wouldn't that mean that it refers to something like a fact and hence shouldn't "savoir" be used?


As I said, since we don't know what "ça" is, both "savoir" and "connaître" can be used.


Could you explain by replacing "ça" with something, how you would still use "connaitre"?

  • tu ne connaissais pas cette méthode = you were not familiar with this method, you had never heard of it
  • tu ne savais pas que Paris est en France = you were not aware of the fact that Paris is in France, you had not learned it.


Thank you. That is an explanation I can wrap my head around.


See http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/savoirconnaitre.htm

to get an idea of what sort context would determine whether to use connaître or savoir.


I wrote you do not know. Was the incorrect because of the tense?


What is the difference between "I didn't knew that" and "I didn't know that"? As a translation. Why is "I didn't knew that" wrong? (I am Dutch and Google doesn't give much help)


When a verb is in negative, "do" is used as a helper and "do" is conjugated. The active verb appears as a bare infinitive; the same rule applies to questions:

  • in present: I know - I do not know - do I know?
  • in past: I knew - I did not know - did I know?


What is wrong with, "You used not to know that"??


Sounds a little off to me, but it may be a regional thing. I would probably say either, "You used to not know that", or "You didn't use to know that".


this can't be translated "you were not knowing that"?? (it was marked wrong)


"to know" is a stative verb and therefore it does not use the continuous form.



The translation given as the correct answer "You'd not know that" is not RP English. It is a Northern usage and would not be routinely used by native English speakers. The conditional would be "you wouldn't have known that."


It is not conditional.

"You would not know that... in those days" expresses a past habit and it correctly translates one of the meaning of the French imperfect.


In English, shouldn't it actually be "you would not have known that" -- or is that another tense?


What you suggest looks like a conditional past (tu n'aurais pas su/connu cela), which may not express a past (non-) habit at all.


yup -- slightly different implication. thanks.


I translated this as "You did not understand that" instead of "You did not know that." Is there a reason why the former is wrong?



Most people in a modern society know the time more or less. Very few understand the process by which the official time, that they feel they know, has come to be established.

connaître = to know

comprendre = understand.

Undoubtedly French speakers interchange know and understand much like English speakers. But Duo wants to make sure you recognize the difference, even if you choose to ignore it in practice later.


I don't think we interchange "know" and "understand" and we have 2 verbs to translate "to know" (savoir / connaître), that we don't interchange either.


Good to know. Another difficulty for English speakers.

Many languages have different types of knowing incorporated into the basics of their language. Most advanced societies distinguish between knowing and understanding. But English uses to know in a very general sense and, in speech, tends to ignore the boundary between knowing and understanding.

Most English speakers have to stop and think about savoir/connaître when they use them because there is no direct, single word translation that distinguishes between them that comes to mind.


can this be put in simple past tense? it has in other, very similar examples, no?


Connaître can mean "to know" or "to know of," n'est-ce pas? I wrote "you did not know of that," and got it wrong. I have always thought that savoir was the word to use to for having knowledge or understanding; e.g. for "i know why the caged bird sings" or "i know how to tie my shoes," i would choose savoir. But to say i have familiarity with someone or to say i have heard about something, i would use connaître.

Am i not really thinking about the distinction correctly?



I don't see how you'd get this without extra stuff outside Duo


Can "Tu n'étais pas connaître ça" be used in this context (ie equivalent to "You weren't to know that")? And if yes, does it vary in sense/feeling to "Tu ne connaissais pas ça"?


connaissais= connais+ sais


Why didn't it accept "you didn't know that"


It just accepted "You didn't know that" - Dec 2017


Would "you didn't know of that" be correct


positive you used to know that negative "you did not used to know that" not "you did not use to know that" really!


"You do not know the power of the dark side"-Darth Vader


"Acquainted with" should work just as well as "familiar with."


it's a bit annoying that making a spelling mistake gets you marked wrong for using the wrong word


Would it be less annoying if the system sent you the message "spelling mistake"?


Could this be translated as "You were not conscious of that" ? - or is it a case of faux amis ?


Why was "you used not to know that" wrong?


From what I got from my English speaking colleagues, "to know" is a stative verb and as such cannot easily accommodate a continuous tense or another tense than past tense when the sentence is negative.


  • "you used to know that" is acceptable in positive
  • "you did not know that" is fine in negative
  • you were not knowing/you used to not know are awkward.

Back to French: "you did not know that" can translate to:

  • tu ne connaissais pas cela/ça = lasting event/state
  • tu n'as pas connu cela/ça = either "so far, you haven't experienced that" or "at that time, you were unaware of it" (complete).


Most English speakers find the imperfect tense uncomfortable to begin with. Attaching the negative to the imperfect tense in English will always break the flow as it is quite awkward and highly suspect.

Your example: you were not knowing/you used to not know

However French speakers seem very comfortable with negative imperfect.

Hard to see how automated, simple question and response examples can easily get that point across without encouraging English speakers to follow their natural tendency to just substitute the English past tense for the French imperfect tense whenever and wherever it is used. Which would be comparable to French speakers translating English past tense into the French imperfect whenever the English past tense was used.


It's quite strange-sounding to English speakers. It sounds very very archaic. But grammatically it's correct.


I'd probably say, "You didn't use to know that" instead.


You didn't use to know that works... used to works with almost everything in this lesson


I lost a heart on that one today, so no, it doesn't work! And I don't understand why it's wrong, if indeed it is wrong.


Since you didn't indicate what the example was or what your response was it is pretty hard to get much from your comment.

It is worth noting in the comment from 666scav1 that you are responding to, he used two different forms of the use/used to construction.

He didn't use to know has did as a helper verb supporting the main verb. In that case the main verb is rendered in its base form use, since the tense is indicated by the helper verb.

He used to know does not have an auxiliary verb helping the main verb use, so the main verb is rendered with a d at its end which has become necessary to display the correct tense. (used)

Perhaps this is where you went wrong since it is a very common error especially when speaking. Common errors in speech practice often find their way into writing practices. Just a guess on my part.


I don't see more than one translation in 666scav1's comment though: "you didn't use to know that". He/she doesn't use quotation marks, which might cause misunderstanding. The sentence we're supposed to translate is negated: "tu ne connaissais pas ca".


Oh, and you suggest the same translation, northernguy, so I suppose it's a slip on Duo's part that it's marked wrong!


If you read his comment you will see that 666scav1 said use to as part of a specific example was correct. He then went on to say that used to works pretty well everywhere in this lesson. Both statements are more or less true. But that doesn't mean that use to/ used to are interchangeable.

Tu ne connaissais pas ... = You used to not know. The tense is established by the conjugation of connaître in French. The tense is established by the added d attached to use in English.

Tu ne connaissais pas..... = You did not use to know. In the English, the tense is established by the addition of the helper verb did therefore the main verb use retains its base form.

666scav1 wrote that used to works with almost everything in this lesson. He wrote that right after offering an example where used to does not work. I don't know if if his intention was to show where used to did not work and forgot to indicate it, or if he made a very common error in English which is the misuse of use to/used to.

You still haven't posted what you think was the correct answer that Duo marked wrong. As a result, I can't say what was happening there. Looking at the comment from 666scav1 it would be easy to get the idea that he was saying used to works pretty well everywhere in this lesson. Since you agreed with him, I suggested that you look closely at what he wrote because that might be where you went wrong. Used to does work in a lot of the examples in this lesson but definitely not in the translation that 666scav1 used as an example.

You don't have to use a helper verb with use in the English translation but if you do that, you invoke a rule about use to/used to that escapes the attention of a lot of English speakers. Use the helper verb or not, but do adjust the main verb accordingly.


I can't reply directly to your comment, northernguy, for some reason the reply-button is missing, but I'm sorry if you took offense.

For the third time then - the translation discussed is "you didn't use to know that", which you find in both 666scav1's and in my comment. Scav says it is accepted, but it wasn't when I suggested it. And I don't understand why, because it looks right to me.


"you did not use* to know that" .... incorrect. please fix.


Sorry, but as far as I know, this is correct.


No. We say "you used* to..."


As mentioned in previous comments, there a couple of constructions being tossed around in this thread as if they were the same thing.

I did use to know...did is a helper verb that impacts the statement

I used to know.....no helper verb = no impact.

Drop the helper verb if you wish but when you do it changes the grammar (and the tense.)


I used to know that.

No, you did not use to know that. You think you used to know that but your understanding of it was wrong.

The previous is grammatically correct and understandable. It is an unusual construction in English, at least in part, because it uses tenses in ways that English speakers tend to avoid and tacks a negative on to them as well. A double whammy for English speakers


Thanks for your support and for the 'whammy', a new entry in my word list. ;-)

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