Have finished vs didn't finish

MikeC1Kwiziq community member

Have finished vs didn't finish

The question and answer: J'ai fini. - Write "I didn't finish." : Je n'ai pas fini
makes me wonder... In English 'I have not finished' implies you are still working on it, whereas 'I did not finish' implies that you are not still working on it (e.g. you ran out of time in an exam). It looks as if the passé composé could mean either of these. Right? If so, what is the easiest way to make this distinction in French?

Asked 2 years ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Mike,

In the case of an exam you would have to say something like -

Je n'ai pas réussi à finir = I didn't manage to finish 

Hope this helps!

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Mike,

I didn't finish  --> je n'ai pas fini.    agreed!

I did not finish --> As above or "The task remains unfinished"  --> "La tâche reste inachevée"  in order to make clear the possibility that time ran out (to respond to your suggested scenario)

Qu'en pense-tu?

Jim

AnneC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I’d also be interested to know. I think it’s complicated by the fact that for completed actions in the past, US English very often uses "I didn’t finish" where UK English would use "I haven’t finished", and "I didn’t finish" would have a slightly different resonance.

Have finished vs didn't finish

The question and answer: J'ai fini. - Write "I didn't finish." : Je n'ai pas fini
makes me wonder... In English 'I have not finished' implies you are still working on it, whereas 'I did not finish' implies that you are not still working on it (e.g. you ran out of time in an exam). It looks as if the passé composé could mean either of these. Right? If so, what is the easiest way to make this distinction in French?

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