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J'ai toujours voulu être danseuse

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

J'ai toujours voulu être danseuse

J'ai toujours voulu être danseuse - I always wanted to be a dancer.

Please remind me why this sentence is passé composé. It seems to me that it is something that she always used to want i.e. it describes a past continuous state of mind. I understood that verbs such as vouloir (and aimer, penser, savoir etc) usually use the imparfait (unless a specific time is specified), and that if anything the case for imparfait would be strengthened by adding "toujours" which implies a habitual state. So I was wondering why she didn't say "Je voulais toujours être danseuse" instead. Thanks. 

Asked 1 month ago
CélineKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Paul,

J'ai toujours voulu être danseuse (Passé Composé) = I have always wanted to be a dancer (Present Perfect)

 -> the action started in the past and is still true in the present ('toujours' emphasises this)

See link here: why-is-je-me-suis-toujours-interesse-perfect-here-and-not-imperfect

Je voulais toujous être danseuse (Imparfait) = I always used to want to be a dancer (Simple Past)

 -> talks about a state which is over in the past

See link here: why-passe-compose-rather-than-imparfait-for-j-ai-toujours-voulu-reprendre-des-lecons

I hope this is helpful.

Bonne journée !

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

To help you "feel" how the imperfect tense sounds to French ears, try putting the English sentence in the continuous ("-ing") form. I'm not saying that this will always be the correct translation, but it will give you an idea what a French speaker hears.

I was always wanting to be a dancer. -- Je voulais toujours être danseuse.

This has a kind of unfinished flavor, a certain descriptive element.

J'ai toujours voulu être danseuse

J'ai toujours voulu être danseuse - I always wanted to be a dancer.

Please remind me why this sentence is passé composé. It seems to me that it is something that she always used to want i.e. it describes a past continuous state of mind. I understood that verbs such as vouloir (and aimer, penser, savoir etc) usually use the imparfait (unless a specific time is specified), and that if anything the case for imparfait would be strengthened by adding "toujours" which implies a habitual state. So I was wondering why she didn't say "Je voulais toujours être danseuse" instead. Thanks. 

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