Aussi loin qu’elle se convienne: why do we not use verb pouvoir but instead the subjunctive?

IanC1Kwiziq community member

Aussi loin qu’elle se convienne: why do we not use verb pouvoir but instead the subjunctive?

D’aussi loin qu’elle se souvienne: I get confused about the translation of ‘could’ in this context and had translated this as : ‘D’aussi loin qu’elle pouvait se souvenir’. Can you direct me to an explanation of when ‘could’ is not a tense of pouvoir but a subjunctive?

Asked 1 week ago
CélineKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Ian,

That's an excellent question! 

First of all, there's a hint because, here, we can't use "pouvoir" in French. Using "pouvoir" brings a notion of "physicality" which does not fit in this structure. It implies someone wincing and tensing while trying to recall something (if that makes sense).

Also, the "could" (and its notion of uncertainty) is included in Le Subjonctif. Plus, there are a few structures as such in French (where "can" is used in English):

J'entends ce que tu me dis = I can hear what you're saying
J'imagine qu'il va partir I can imagine him leaving

I hope this is helpful.

Bonne journée !

ChristianC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Out of interest I googled this a bit. What I came up with is that "d'aussi loin que" in the temporal sense is just a conjunction that requires the subjunctive. So I guess one just needs to memorize this, maybe the whole phrase ("d'aussi loin que je me souvienne").

See similar question here: https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/questions/view/d-aussi-loin-que-je-me-souvienne-pourquoi-au-subjonctif

Or at the dictionary of the l'académie française (https://www.dictionnaire-academie.fr/article/A9L1155):

"De si loin que, d’aussi loin que, du plus loin que, au plus loin que, de la plus grande distance que. Dans l’espace (généralement suivi de l’indicatif). De si loin, d’aussi loin, du plus loin, au plus loin qu’il m’apercevait, il me saluait. Dans le temps (suivi du subjonctif seulement). Du plus loin, d’aussi loin qu’il m’en souvienne, les choses étaient ainsi."

Aussi loin qu’elle se convienne: why do we not use verb pouvoir but instead the subjunctive?

D’aussi loin qu’elle se souvienne: I get confused about the translation of ‘could’ in this context and had translated this as : ‘D’aussi loin qu’elle pouvait se souvenir’. Can you direct me to an explanation of when ‘could’ is not a tense of pouvoir but a subjunctive?

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