Freeform Writing Exercise B2
près de 300 -- close to (could also be more than 300)presque 300 -- almost (always less than 300)
"close to 300 decorated chalets" --> presque (almost), à peu près -- in terms of numerical approximation.
Proche, près de, à proximité -- in terms of degree of physical closeness.
I agree that in this context of close (an approximation) to a number of 300 chalets then "presque" should be appropriate.
Actually "close to" always means less.
Thank you, Alan. In French, however, près de means slightly less or slightly more.
In that case, wouldn't presque be a better translation then?
Actually, now I'm confused. The response of a native speaker to my post seems to indicate that près de can also mean slightly more than a certain number. If that's the case, presque would narrow the meaning and not be a valid alternative. If, however, près de does correspond 1:1 to the English "close to", then presque ought to be an alternative.
This is an exercise in translation from English to French, and the original text is "close to". If "près de" can mean "more than", then strictly speaking it's incorrect, because it widens the meaning.
But really, I think both should be allowed.
It's an interesting discussion. Près de is often used to mean "close to" in a spatial sense, as in "Je vis près de Paris". In this usage it is synonymous with proche, and you can't use presque in this context at all.
With numbers, the question is: does près de mean "nearly" (i.e., almost) or does it mean "not much different from".
On an interesting side note: when I think of a number close to 5, I could also be thinking of 6, not just 4.
It seems that French is the same as English, in Québec at least:
Presque et près de peuvent tous deux être utilisés devant un numéral pour indiquer une quantité légèrement inférieure au nombre qu’ils introduisent. Ils signifient alors « pas tout à fait, un peu moins de » et marquent la proximité du nombre.
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