French Language

Discuss and learn French: French vocabulary, French grammar, French culture etc.

French Vocab Games app for iPhone/iPad French-English dictionary French grammar French vocab/phrases

For the latest updates, follow @FrenchUpdates on Twitter!

Hi.

I've come across a couple of examples of brief  biographies where the word "naît" has been used where I would expect to see "né" ("born"). Is it usual for the present (rather than the past) tense to be used when stating when someone was born?

Thanks in advance.

Views: 862

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

It would be interesting to see an actual example. It could be a typo. However, remember that it's reasonably common in French to use a "historic present"'-- i.e. you use a present tense to describe something that happens in the past. So the word naît, while literally meaning "is born", could effectively mean "was born" under the right circumstances.
Thanks for your reply. As an example, on the dust cover of  Le Bon Usage  it says, "Maurice Grevisse naît le 7 octobre 1895 à Rulles (Belgique), d'un père forgeron et d'une mère couturière." Further down it says, "André Goosse naît à Liège (Belgique) le 16 avril  1926." Would these be examples of the "historic present"?

There are two perspectives of this.

1. It could be a form of "factual present" equivalent in English. English sentences of indisputable facts have the present tense as a rule of thumb.

2. Adverbs or prepositional phrases showing tenses are doing the trick.

Thanks for your reply.
Yes, exactly. So literally it is saying "...is born on 7 October 1895", but in English one would tend to write this in the past tense: "...was born on...".
Thanks for your reply. I hadn't come across the historic present with naître before.

RSS

Follow BitterCoffey on Twitter

© 2022   Created by Neil Coffey.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service