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Working all day..


Chrissie

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How do you say "to spend all day working in the garden?"

Would it be "passer toute la journée en travaillant dans le jardin", or "passer toute la journée travailler dans le jardin."?

And if it's plural and the former, would I write "il nous faut passer toute la journée en travaillant dans le jardin" or "travaillants".....[8-)]

Chrissie (81)

(I don't by the way, it's just a grammatical exercise!!)

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I'm sure it's the infinitive (the second one) because my physio is always telling me off for using "travaillant" as one would in English[:D] - this is one of my (many!) blind spots.  It would be great if one of the linguists on here could explain this properly to us,Chrissie.  I've scoured my grammar books but can't find a good explanation - the second example still looks odd to me but I can't think why.
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[quote user="Chrissie"]How do you say "to spend all day working in the garden?"[/quote]

"passer travailler toute la journée en travaillant dans le jardin" (your suggestion is grammatically correct, but heavy in construction and unlikely to be used in conversation)

or "passer toute la journée à travailler dans le jardin."

[quote user="Chrissie"]And if it's plural and the former, would I write "il nous faut passer toute la journée en travaillant dans le jardin" or "travaillants".....[/quote]

As it is a present participle, there is no plural from for travaillant. Ever. (see here.)

Nous avons travaillé toute la journée...

Nous avons passé toute la journée à travailler... 
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[quote user="cooperlola"]...my physio is always telling me off for using "travaillant" as one would in English...[/quote]

Not sure whether this will be a complete explanation but it may help.

There are two common uses of "working" in English where it would never be translated as "travaillant" in French, and I'd guess that your physio is talking about one or both of these.

(1) where "working" is just part of the verb: 

What are you doing?  I'm working in London.

This is just another way of saying -

What do you do?  I work in London.

The meaning may be slightly different, but not much.  In French that difference doesn't exist: both of these would be -

Que faites-vous?  Je travaille à Londres.

If you said je suis travaillant à Londres your physio would tell you off.

(2) where "working" is really a noun, meaning the activity of working, which can be the subject or object of the verb.

Working in the garden is not my job.

I don't like working in the garden.

Here again, "travaillant" would be wrong.  You have to use the infinitive form:

Travailler dans le jardin n'est pas mon métier.

Je n'aime pas travailler dans le jardin.

I hope this helps.

PS: I do realize that both of my examples are distinct from the "present participle" use which Clair describes.  I hope I haven't just added to the confusion.

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Thanks Alan - not confusing at all, although that's not my problem. 

What I do have trouble with is Chrissie's example.  I spent the day working in the garden/I aleviated the boredom by reading.  It just instinctively (and incorrectly) comes out as "J'ai passe la journee en travaillant dans le jardin/j'ai evite l'ennui en lisant."  Well, it used to - I bring myself up short now, but I still struggle with the correct form - a travailler a lire etc still feel odd!

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[quote user="Chancer"]

So can the present participle of travailler "travaillant" ever be used in written or spoken French?

If so can you give me an example please.

[/quote]

Yes. Example: "Je chante en travaillant".

or

"En travaillant toute la journée, je suis fatigué(e) le soir."

As you can see, it is used with "en".

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[quote user="5-element"][quote user="Chancer"]

So can the present participle of travailler "travaillant" ever be used in written or spoken French?

If so can you give me an example please.

[/quote]

Yes. Example: "Je chante en travaillant".

or

"En travaillant toute la journée, je suis fatigué(e) le soir."

As you can see, it is used with "en".

[/quote]

Gérondif!

Was that the question?

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Well, no, it wasn't the question, and that's the problem.

"Whistling whilst working" - two things going on at the same time - is, as you say, the gerondif (a gerund in English.)

But -" I spent the day working" isn't.  That's where I go wrong (don't know about Chrissie).  It comes out as "je passait la journée en travaillant" where it should be à travailler, as Clair said.  Maybe one can see how it's possible to confuse the two?

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[quote user="Chancer"]So can the present participle of travailler

"travaillant" ever be used in written or spoken French?[/quote]Yes.

"Working in the garden, I was thinking about Tuesday's meeting."

"Knowing that she was already on the way, I wanted to finish quickly."

You would use the present participle form here for "working" and "knowing", although I think it would usually be preceded by "en" or even "tout en":

En travaillant dans le jardin, je pensais ...

Tout en sachant qu'elle était déja en route, je voulais ...

I'm not quite sure how to distinguish these from Chrissie's example. 

Maybe Clair can help.

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Perhaps it's all to do with the french being terribly accurate about the timing of all tenses.

It seems from the above posts that "en travaillant" can only be used if it is a simultaneous action, so if you can say "whilst working in the garden I whistled", it would be OK, but similarly "I spent all day whilst working" would be nonsense.........

Hope this is right!!

Chrissie (81)

 

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The examples you cite, Alan, are gerondif (two things happening at the same time).

Passing the time by doing something,  avoiding doing something by doing something else etc etc, take the infinitive in French.[:-))]  But I just can't help using the first by default.  You can take the woman out of England , but you can't take the English out of the woman!

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[quote user="Chrissie"]

Perhaps it's all to do with the french being terribly accurate about the timing of all tenses.

It seems from the above posts that "en travaillant" can only be used if it is a simultaneous action, so if you can say "whilst working in the garden I whistled", it would be OK, but similarly "I spent all day whilst working" would be nonsense.........

Hope this is right!!

Chrissie (81)

 

[/quote]We posted at the same time - how apposite is that?[:D]
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[quote user="cooperlola"]The examples you cite, Alan, are gerondif (two things happening at the same time). 

Passing the time by doing something,  avoiding doing something by doing something else etc etc, take the infinitive in French.[/quote]

I can't explain it, but I fear that it's more complicated than that.

For instance, I think you would say "En prenant le TGV j'espère arriver avant midi." (by taking the TGV ...)

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French uses an infinitive

1) After

prepositions 'Sans Hésiter' 'avant d'entrer'  

2) After a

verb with or without a preposition depending on the verb

Aimer

boire   Like drinking

Commencér à boire  

Start Drinking

Eviter de boire  Avoid Drinking

Passer

la journée à boire  spend the day drinking

This is the confusion that comes from Clair's correction.

'passer' takes 'à' so 'à travailler dans le jardin'

In other cases when the

prepoition is 'en' best translate in English as 'in'  

so en tombant 'in falling' or

"while"  "by""on"   but not just the verb in 'ing'

Looking at the original example, you can't really say in English 'we spent the day while working' or 'by working' etc

It is a simultaneous action, done by the same subject as the main verb

BUT

(Complication: compare" j'ai vu mon frère en sortant de l"école"  and "j'ai vu mon frère sortant de l'école!!!)

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Lets see if I have been paying attention and any of this has sunk in (it never did at school!).

"J'ai vu mon frère sortant de l'école", is OK? - I saw my brother leaving the school.

And so is "J'ai vu mon frère en sortant de l'école", I saw my brother whilst I was leaving the school.

Would it be preferable to reverse the order "En sortant de l'école j'ai vu mon frère"

Or is that my English logic intervening?

Or should I get my coat? [:'(]

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[quote user="NormanH"](Complication: compare" j'ai vu mon frère en sortant de l"école"  and "j'ai vu mon frère sortant de l'école!!!)

[/quote]

The first of these is clear, but I'm not sure what the second means.

If it was your brother who was leaving, wouldn't you normally say j'ai vu mon frère sortir de l'école"?

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[quote user="bubbles"]What about "En sortant de l'école, j'ai vu mon frère"? That's pretty clear.[/quote]

No, that would mean that I saw him as I was leaving the school.  At least, I think it would.

If I saw him as he was leaving the school, I think I would say "j'ai vu mon frère sortir de l'école."

What I'm questioning is the second of NormanH's examples ("j'ai vu mon frère sortant de l'école").  I'm not sure whether that's clear, or even correct.

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"j'ai vu mon frère sortant de l'école."

"sortant" expresses a simultaneous relation and replaces the implied subordinate relative clause.

qui sortait de l'école....assumed incomplete action in the past, this nuance could be emphasised with....qui était en train de sortir de l'école..

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