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Thread: Ever vs Always

  1. RebeccaTours

    Ever vs Always

    I am currently teaching English to a French friend and he is frequently mixing up the use of 'ever' and 'always' when wanting to translate 'toujours', I am finding it difficult to explain the difference... can anyone help me out?

  2. #2

    Smile Re: Ever vs Always

    Rebecca, toujours seems to literally translate as 'all days' (i.e. every day)

    Dictionary glosses have always as: 'for every time, on every occasion', so the long and short of it is that I think the two are interchangeable. In my opinion there is not even a nuance of difference in meaning.

  3. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
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    Re: Ever vs Always


    Have you ever been to Paris? Jamais rather than toujours
    *Have you always been to Paris? *

    Have you always been in Paris? Toujours
    Have you ever been in Paris? Jamais [The meanings are distinct]

    (The key seems to be jamais, which can translate as both 'ever' and 'never'. You can only use 'ever' in a question when the answer 'never' is possible.)

    The other problem with toujours is that it can also mean 'still':

    Vous êtes toujours lá? Are you still [t]here?

    I think you need to speak to a Frenchman to sort this out - Alain Chomat perhaps.


    PS There is a poetical/rhetorical usage of "ever" : I am always an optimist = I am ever an optimist; but this rather archaic form is the only case I can think of where the two are interchangeable.

    *There is a rare case where this sort of "always" is possible -
    'We always spend our holidays in the Dordogne.'
    'Have you always been there?
    'No. Until 1995 we used to go to Normandie.'
    So there is a case where 'Have you always been to Paris?' is possible; it doesn't mean the same as 'Have you ever been to Paris?' though. It implies the existence of an option such as 'Wasn't there a time when you used to go to Lille instead?'
    Last edited by BobK; 04-Mar-2008 at 16:58. Reason: Added PPS

  4. #4

    Smile Re: Ever vs Always

    Bob, I bow to your superior knowledge of French...and pity Rebecca's French friend for what will undoubtedly be the briefest of lessons.

  5. Senior Member
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    Re: Ever vs Always


    Ever might be translated into déjà = once in one's life time:

    Have you ever spoken to him ? Lui as-tu déjà parlé ?

    Have you ever been to Tralee? ( very nice place but too many roses in August) Etes-vous déjà allé à TRALI ? = Avez vous eu l'occasion de...?

    Ever might be translated into jamais

    It's the nicest thing he has ever done : C'est le plus beau cadeau qu'il a jamais fait.

    I've hardly ever spoken to her : Je ne lui ai presque jamais parlé.

    for ever can be translated into pour toujours ou à à jamais

    There may be a confusion between still/ always , since both are translated into toujours.or between before and ever= déjà.

    I'd like you to give me some examples of the mistakes your friend is prone to make.

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