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?
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.
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 15:58.
Reason: Added PPS