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a dictionary had this sentence w its translation:

Les gars, vous pourriez détourner le regard le temps que ça vienne?  Look, could you guys just look away for a second till I get started?

i tried typing the phrase above into google but it sent me to vienna weather forecasts.  i don't see how the phrase i cited in the heading is translated as it is.  merci

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"for the time  (before) it comes (starts) "="for a while"   or "until ....whatever"  

Any help.? It is a set phrase and the translation is approximative

Do you use quotation marks in your Google searches ?

Type in "le temps que ça vienne" with the quotation marks included    and ignore the Vienna forecasts at the top :)

Hi Alan, hi George.

“Vienne” is the subjunctive tense of “venir”.

Namely : “il faut que je vienne ; il faut que tu viennes...”

Google Transtale isn't perfect even so it's a good basic tool. At the beginning, when I stard to learn English, Google said me a lot of bad translations. Sometimes, I was laughing. Sometimes, I was taken aback... So, its use don't be considered like literal. ( Nothing replaces a real exchange, that's why I am really talkative in this forum. ^^ )

Anyway, Alan, your initial translation is almost correct according to the deep French habit. I would say rather : “Look, could you guys just look away for a second till “this thing/this action” comes?”

( “ça vienne” indicates exactly that the speaker waits something in move. )

Hi Alan --

I'm not sure how much you know already about the subjunctive in French -- as you may be aware, this is when languages can express the notion of a "non assertion" by using a special verb form. So by "non assertion" we mean cases where you're "imagining" or "capturing" the notion of event without actually stating that it took or is taking place -- the link I mention gives a fuller explanation. A bit like when I say in English "I'm waiting for [him to finish]" -- "him to finish" doesn't actually state that he has/will finish, it just "imagines" that situation. In this type of situation, French on the whole tends to use a special 'subjunctive' form of the verb to express the "imagined" situation.

In this specific case with "le temps que..." (and also related phrases like "en attendant que...", "jusqu'à ce que...") where what is expressed in the main clause is dependent on a "future event", French tends to use the subjunctive. See here for more examples:

Hope that helps!


Some times ago, a French leaner ( who is an English native ) said me : “ Maybe the French language don't uses the subjunctive tense everytime. This use is rare.”

On the contrary, French people use a lot this tense. In fact, it's not a main tense, but it's usage is everywhere in the small common sentences of everyday, like “le temps que [je parte]”, “en attendant que [tu viennes]", “jusqu'à ce que [ça prenne]”...

Concerning French people, when we are young, the real mastery of this French tense comes through the oral practice. Personnaly, I don't remember how I learned the subjunctive tense such its learning came early. I don't remember anymore having learned it at school like the present tense, for instance. Its real learning has been truly according to all of my conversations.

If I can give an simple advise for all learners, it's to use it really by the oral way, even if each makes probably some errors. This mastery will be entering in your language habits slowly over time. In reality, its main difficult is to look like the present tense despites its conjugation that is fundamentally different. Anyway, your best friends always will be “que” and “il faut” because, when they are present, surely the subjunctive tense is not far. ^^

Likewise, don't hesitate to learn by heart the subjunctive shape of essential French verbs whose here a not limited short list :

In complement, don't hesitate to look at this page.

For memory : I don't know how to indicate the correct English phonetics for all French verbs. It's a bit complicated for me. However, “aille” is pronounced exactly like “I” in English. That is to say : “Que j'aille” = “Que j'I”.

Voilà, hoping have been helping almost like Neil whose I found his explanation very interesting and comfortable.

Have a good day.

thanks for the link.  i used to be quite good w the subjunctive cuz i simply memorized the triggers.  quite sure i never learned "le temps que" however and i've subsequently seen other triggers i wasn't aware of when i studied it.  it's helpful to see the logic behind it as well.  

i meant to move this to neil's entry.  thanks to all cuz it was very helpful.  i will copy the link to study it.  


Neil explained very clearly the sense of french subjunctive (subjonctif = subjectif).

I would only add that french doesn't only tend to use subjunctive in these contexts, but has to. It would be a gross error to say "le temps que ça vient..." or 'j'ai peur qu'il est en retard" (instead of "soit").

Hi Estaban -- Just to clarify something: when I said "tends to", I was talking about a general pattern across the language as a whole rather than in specific cases. So in individual cases, it could be that the subjunctive is always used or practically never used (or somewhere in between).

You're wright, of course, in mentionning a general pattern.

As I said somewhere above, the subjonctif mode (it's a mode with several tenses) is for subjective sentences, as opposed to sentences mentioning facts as such.

What I meant is that, from a practical point of view, subjunctive is introduced by certain verbs which can only be used with this mode (falloir, craindre que,  aimer que...) or certain expression (Le temps que..., L'idée que, le fait que...) but this rule, as always, has some exceptions; In fact, the only way is to learn if a verb is followed by subjunctive or indicative.

"Espérer" would logically be followed by a subjunctive construction, but it's not. You just use the future tense of the indicative mode: "j'espère qu'il viendra" and not "J'espère qu'il vienne".


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