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Word Order and Tense Choice in Standard Written French

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Abstract:

SUMMARY
In modern French, the use of simple and composed tenses varies with respect to word order in two specific cases: firstly with subject inversion, and secondly with insertion of material between the auxiliary and the past participle. With the 'passé simple' (past historic) and the 'passé composé' (perfect), both of which can express past punctual actions, this difference in word order may influence tense choice. If a particular effect (contrast, emphasis...) is desired in the phrase, either the 'passé simple' or the 'passé composé' can be used to express the punctual past, the choice being dependent on their respective influence on word order.
RESUME
L'emploi des temps simples et des temps composés en français moderne diffère du point de vue de l'ordre de mots, en deux cas spécifiques: premièrement, avec l'inversion du sujet; et deuxièmement avec la possibilité de l'insertion de mots entre l'auxiliaire et le participe passé. Pour le passé simple et le passé composé, qui expriment tous les deux des actions passées et ponctuelles, cette différence d'ordre peut influencer le choix du temps: si l'on désire creer un effet particulier dans la phrase (contraste, emphase...), on pourrait employer soit le passé simple, soit le passé composé pour exprimer le passé ponctuel, selon leur influence sur l'ordre des mots.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/li.10.2.06eng

Publication date: January 1, 1986

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