Sometimes there are certain aspects of the French language that drive me crazy. Verbs of movement is one example.
French does not use adverbs of motion the same way that English does, so it is not possible to translate literally “He ran across the street” into French. Sure, you can say il a couru for he ran and à travers la rue for across the street. But if you put them together in one sentence, it doesn’t make much sense. It’s the same for “I drive to school.” You cannot put je conduis and à l’école together in one sentence.
Instead, you must use a general verb of motion, then specify the place, and then use a gerund or prepositional phrase that describes the “manner” of movement. And this constantly confuses me because the literal English translation is so awkward.
He ran across the street. = Il a traversé la rue en courant. = He crossed the street by running.
I drive to school. = Je viens à l’école en voiture. = I come to school by car.
I never know how to say up or down or through or away, or which verb of movement I should use. I’ve been trying to think of examples, and having David check them to make sure I’m getting the hang of this. Here are some of my sentences:
He limps up the stairs. = Il monte l’escalier en boitant.
The children crawl down the hill. = Les enfants descendent la colline en rampant.
The man hops toward the window. = L’homme se dirige vers la fenêtre en sautillant.
We tip-toed out of the room. = Nous sommes sorties de la pièce sur la pointe des pieds.
She swam across the lake. = Elle a traversé le lac à la nage.
I’m flying to Berlin. = Je vais à Berlin en avion.
But now here’s a sentence I’m not sure how to translate: The car rushed towards me. I spotted this on an exam for some seconde students, and David wasn’t even sure how to translate it correctly. Should I use en fonçant as the gerund at the end? Then what’s the regular verb? So so confused. I know I’d lose those 2 points it was worth…
And this has nothing to do with learning French, but it pertains to French culture. I get really annoyed that French people close the door to a room that no one is in, especially the bathroom. Americans tend to leave the door open so that you know there is no one in there and you can enter without having to awkwardly/slowly turn the handle to see if it’s locked (or even more awkwardly, it is unlocked but someone is in the bathroom and they forgot/didn’t want to lock it!) To me, a closed door = a locked door, which would fit perfectly in French since fermé can mean both closed and locked. But oh no. A closed door in France certainly does not mean it’s locked or that you cannot enter.
I asked David why the French leave the door closed, and his response was “If the door is closed, that means that no one is in there.” Umm, ok, but when someone is in there, he or she closes the door too. So a closed door means that someone is in the room AND someone is not in the room. See?? It makes no sense!!