Forum Rocket French Conversation in French Where is / How do I Get to the Cathedral?

Where is / How do I Get to the Cathedral?



Lesson 6.6 has an interesting sentence:  "Pour aller à la cathédrale, c'est par où s'il vous plaît?" translated to "For going to the cathedral, it's where, please?"  The translation is a nearly word-for-word.  Not only is the English sentence wordy, but it's also awkward (and I suspect the French as well).  I've read the sentences several times and am not sure what either the French or the English means.

Does the speaker want to know the route to the cathedral, or does the speaker simply want to know where it is.  If it's the former shouldn't the question be something like, "comment je peux aller à la cathédrale?"  If it's the latter, why not simply ask, "où est la cathédrale?"


Bonjour Diane,  I'll give this a shot. "Pour aller a..." is a typical way to ask "how to get to" as in directions and "c'est par ou.." means "it's by what (where)" or in English "what's it by". So it means the route, as in the first part of your question. Your question, "comment je peux aller..." translates more as "how can I get (go) to the cathedrale?" To this question you might get the response " by car, bus, metro etc." Your next question, "ou est la...." might get the response "it's on 4th and Main" which doesn't really tell you how to get there.

Keep in mind that this is a "foreign" language and direct translations do not always work. There are numerous idioms and word meanings and sentence structures that are foreign to us English speakers. To me that is the big part of learning the language. You can't just take an English sentence and directly translate it word for word to French.

I hope this is somewhat helpful and at least partially correct. Also, fyi, I have found several mistakes throughout these lessons so it is always good to question if something doesn't seem right.

Bon courage!


Thank you.  You're right; we can't translate word-for-word from one language to another.  In the lesson example, that's what was apparently done.

There are also differences between British English and North American English.  I think many of the RF people learned their English from the British and it sometimes shows in the English translations.  It all makes for an interesting world.


Bonjour vous deux!

Oh it is nice to see a member that doesn't like word for word translations! We often have people requesting that some of the sentences be changed so that they resemble more the word for word translation. Many beginner do not understand that different language contain different words, concepts and conventions that mean we can rarely directly translate a sentence and retain exactly the same sentiment.  However, you guys seem to have reached a level where you concentrate more on the overall meaning of the sentence, as opposed to the individual words and that is great!

As for the above example, it is okay but I do often add 'jusqu'à' into the mix, i.e. Pour aller jusqu'à la cathédrale, c'est par où? This is quite common and by no means wrong. I do see how the English does seem a little cumbersome, so I will go ahead and look nto changing it.

Keep up the good work et comme d'hab, bon courage!

   -   Marie-Claire

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