Hello, I've just done the question
How would you say "By the time he came, I had fixed the machine." ?
for which the correct answer was...
For me, this is a past event and ‘came’ is the past tense but in French you actually need to say « by the time he comes, I had fixed the machine » in English (speaking, at least)?
Actually, in English I would use the past perfect tense, but your French version looks OK.
By the time that he came, I had fixed the machine. -- Le temps qu'il vienne, j'avais réparé la machine.
The rules for the subjunctive are a bit special. I think you could use the imperfect subjunctive here, but since that is only used in formal writing, the present subjunctive is used instead. You don't use the past subjunctive because he came after you had fixed the machine.
Personally, I wouldn't use the past perfect ("by the time he had come") here, but I think some people might, and the equivalent in French would, I suppose, be the past subjunctive (or pluperfect subjunctive). I think I'd find it more acceptable with "had arrived" instead of "had come", and that might also be true of arriver.
It would be helpful to have a lesson explaining this kind of thing. There is a lesson on the past subjunctive, but it just explains how it's formed, not when it should be used.
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