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I am trying to translate the following into French: 

They were part of high society, or rather they thought so.

It's the bit at the end I'm really hung up on - the "penser" bit. 

Ils faisaient partie de la haute société, ou plutôt ils le pensaient or ... ils s'en pensaient?

I would like to think that the second option (using "en") is correct, but it is correct to use "se penser"?

Also can there be situations where "penser" takes a direct object. ie. je le pense...?

It may be that I am trying to perform a direct translation from En to Fr, so if there is a "french" way of saying it, please let me know. 

Many thanks in anticipation.

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I don't think your construction is correct.

S'en penser is not an expression  I have come across to mean that.

You can have "se penser"  to mean "to consider oneself something" (e.g. "se penser important")

And yes "je le pense" makes perfect sense.("I think so")

Any help?

Thanks George. 

I have since checked with un Français, and ils le pensaient is the correct version, although he wasn't able to elaborate on why exactly. 

It raised for me the question of reciprocal and reflexive verbs and to what extent you can improvise to try to express your exact meaning. In your explanation you mention "se penser" as reflexive, but could you also have a verb which has both a reflexive and reciprocal form? (se voir?). 

In conclusion, it would appear that you cannot use "se penser" reciprocally (to think of themselves) and would have to resort to adding "aux-mêmes" for an accurate translation?

Actually no,I feel it is OK to use se penser for "to think of themselves"

( like "se  croire")

It is the "en" which  seems meaningless ,unless there was some contrived context it would work in.

As a set expression  ,along the lines of ,say "s'en faire" **I have never come across it.

** Think that exists although I have forgotten what it actually means.There is also "s'en ficher" ,which is not so polite ;)


As George said :

The first sentence  is perfect.

Ils le pensaient : "le" represents the first part of the sentence "Ils faisaient partie de la haute société" to avoid the repetition.

I think in english it's not possible with the verb "think" so I try to explain with another verb : 

"Dad, mom and little girl saw a small cute puppy, now little girl want this small cute puppy" can be write  "Dad, mom and little girl  saw a small cute puppy, now little girl want it/him" ?

I see in your text "if there is a "french" way of saying it",

if this sentence is correct, "le" in french has exactly the same used of  "it/him" except "le" in french is before the verb.  



The second option has not exactly the same meaning and the same way : 

Ils s'en pensaient +  an adjective  .  

"Ils s'en pensaient dignes". = they thought about themselves that they are  dignified. 

Ils s'en pensaient capables = they thought about themselves that they are able to do something.

There is obligatory the adjective (here = "dignes" or "capables") that represents the concept or the quality about themselves. 


theses   2 options have not exactly the same meaning.

I understand your sentence in english like that  : they thought they were part of the high society.  Probably they were not (because of "or rather"), but them, they thought they were part and they didn't know that there were not.

so  "Ils faisaient partie de la haute société, ou plutôt ils le pensaient" means exactly what I understand above.

second "Ils faisaient partie de la haute société, ou plutôt ils s'en pensaient dignes"  implies that they know they were not part of high society but they think they should be part because they consider about themselves that they are quite dignified to be part of high society and they act like part of high society. I tried to think about another adjective (instead of" dignes") that doesn't give this impression they know their situation, I don't find one.


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