Forum Rocket French French Grammar Lesson 14.5 Inconsistant translation

Lesson 14.5 Inconsistant translation



In this lesson:

"We will leave soon to the beach" is translated as:
"Nous partons bientôt à la plage"

"We will leave soon" is translated as:
"Nous allons bientôt partir"

Why isn't  "We will leave soon to the beach"translated as "Nous allons bientôt partir à la plage"?


Why isn't "Nous partons bientôt à la plage" translated as

 “We ARE Leaving soon for the beach”


"Nous allons bientôt partir" translated as 

"We ARE GOING to leave soon." ??




Hi Patricia,

I'm surprised none of the tutors have responded yet, so in case you haven't sought an answer elsewhere, I'll offer my thoughts.  

I believe that it is common in French to use the present tense quite often when referring to the furture, particularly if there is an implied future time word involved. In this case “bientôt” - soon - implies it will happen shortly. (A similar thing happens a lot in German.)

 I should point out that I'm a student, not a native French speaker, but completed Rocket French a while ago.





I'm so sorry I missed this, but thank you Peter for commenting because it flagged it for me.

I would like to preface this response by saying that tenses are not always in the same way or for the same purpose when comparing English and French. That's to say that using the most direct translation, very rarely yields the most natural translation.

For example:

  1. We will leave soon to the beach.
  2. Nous partirons bientôt à la plage. (literal)
  3. Nous partons bientôt à la plage. (natural)
  4. We are leaving soon to the beach. (literal translation of above sentence)

Here we can see that the literal translation (#2) uses the simple future, however in spoken French that feels a little off and projects the event a little too far into the future. In this case, the English and French translations don't 100% align. In French, we would rather use the present tense with a time adverb like ‘soon’ to convey that original meaning from sentence 1. Note, however that if we convert that natural translation (#3) directly back into English (#4) then both of those translations do align.

This can be a tricky concept to explain but it is an important one to understand. Many people can fixate on literal translations for the base meaning and that is understandable, but in my experience that can compound and result in a habit of directly translating everything from English to French, as opposed to using the French more naturally … if that makes sense.


You have correctly pointed out some discrepencies in the literal translations above which is great but we also have to recognise that sometimes they may not be the most natural translations.


I hope this helps,


   -   Mitchell




Word order is another source of confusion. I try to just go with it!

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