Would 'pendant que' be correct here? What are the rules regarding which of the above (Alors que v pendant que v tandis que) to use?
Freeform Writing Exercise B2
Normally you would use 'pendant que' to describe almost simultaneous actions -
Whereas, 'tandis que' and 'alors que' can be used to show opposition
In this exercise, both alors que and tandis que are given as possibilities which is correct.
Thank you for your very interesting question. A few members of our team spent some time debating over it.
As Cécile explained very well, ‘pendant que’ describes actions that are simultaneous whereas ‘tandis que’ and ‘alors que’ describe actions that are in contrast.
However ‘pendant que’ is possible here although it isn’t as elegant as using ‘alors que’ or ‘tandis que’. In ‘modern French’ it has become acceptable as it can describe actions that are simultaneous as well as in contrast even if, once again, it isn’t as elegant.
Also I invite you to look at this answer from one of our French language experts: pendant-que-instead-of-tandis-que
I hope this is helpful.
I note that you don't appear to have received a response in some three weeks.
Suggest you try the link above where you will find several native speaker's inputs on this very subject.
Thanks, Jim. I’ll check it out. :)
I think what I was asking is: Is 'pendant que' wrong here? And if so, why?
Can someone explain to me what this example has to do with contrast, and not simultaneity? Why would it be "Pendant que je visitais le France j'ai vu Mary" but "Il y a trois ans, alors que (/tandis que) je visitais le Franc,e j'ai vu Mary"?
EDIT: ok, since no one wanted to take a stab at this, I finally asked GPT4. I don't know if this is allowed (just tell me and I will edit this back out if not), but it makes sense enough to me. I cannot vouch for its accuracy (although, ironically, it did cite this very page as a source), but perhaps someone else here can, and in any case it cleared up something I could not find an answer to anywhere--so perhaps it would be helpful to someone else:
ANSWER: The phrase “Il y a trois ans, alors que je visitais la France” does indeed express simultaneity, but the use of “alors que” here gives a slight nuance of a specific moment or event within the larger context of visiting France. It’s as if you’re saying “It was three years ago, at a time when I was visiting France”.
On the other hand, “pendant que” is more about two actions happening at the same time without necessarily implying a specific moment or event within that timeframe. So “Pendant que je visitais la France” is more like “While I was visiting France (and doing various things)”.
In summary, while both “alors que” and “pendant que” can technically be used in this context, “alors que” might be preferred because it subtly emphasizes a specific moment or event within the larger timeframe of the visit to France.
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