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Unexpected position for “leur”

Brian E.C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Unexpected position for “leur”

Hi, with regard to:


“when suddenly, an enormous sawshark swam above their heads!”


Half of the answers are of the type:


“quand soudain, un requin-scie énorme est passé au-dessus de leur tête !”


This set is in a format that I’ve encountered many times. 


The other half are of the type:


“lorsque soudain, un requin scie énorme leur est passé au-dessus de la tête !”


This set is outside of my grammatical experience. I’m okay with the “leur tête/la tête” difference, as I’ve learned that in French we don’t always use the possessive “leur”, and can use a definite article such as “la”, especially when the owner of the body part is obvious. But could you explain why in these “la tête” answers a “leur” has appeared in each case earlier in the sentence. Is this early “leur” necessary in order to change “leur tête” to “la tête”? How can we consider this early “leur” to connect to the later “tête” when it is separated from it so much?

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Good point Brian, I didn’t notice this ‘leur’ !
The expression is -

Passer au dessus de la tête de quelqu’un

and for this you will use the indirect pronouns as such :  

Ça m'est passé au dessus de la tête

Ça t’est passé au dessus de la tête

Ça lui est passé au dessus de la tête…

Ça leur est passé au dessus de la tête

 

In this case, we are talking about a shark physically going over their heads but it could mean metaphorically as in my examples:

it went way over my/ your/ his/her/... their head/s

Hope this answers your question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Brian,

We actually accept both la tête  et leur tête as both are correct, here.

Bonne Continuation !

Brian E.C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thanks Céline, but it’s the reason for the “leur” after “énorme” that I’m wondering about. 

Brian E.C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Aaahhhhh, okay. Very interesting! Thanks Cécile. 

Unexpected position for “leur”

Hi, with regard to:


“when suddenly, an enormous sawshark swam above their heads!”


Half of the answers are of the type:


“quand soudain, un requin-scie énorme est passé au-dessus de leur tête !”


This set is in a format that I’ve encountered many times. 


The other half are of the type:


“lorsque soudain, un requin scie énorme leur est passé au-dessus de la tête !”


This set is outside of my grammatical experience. I’m okay with the “leur tête/la tête” difference, as I’ve learned that in French we don’t always use the possessive “leur”, and can use a definite article such as “la”, especially when the owner of the body part is obvious. But could you explain why in these “la tête” answers a “leur” has appeared in each case earlier in the sentence. Is this early “leur” necessary in order to change “leur tête” to “la tête”? How can we consider this early “leur” to connect to the later “tête” when it is separated from it so much?

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