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Does the French translation

Êtes-vous au-dessus des choses?

convey an inquiry as to whether the individual is in control of their obligations / having a clear plan of finishing a project or reaching the next milestone in a satisfactory time frame?

Or would the French interpret it more literally?

Moreover, if I want to be specific to the Alpha Project, would this be clearly understood?

Etes-vous au-dessus des choses avec le projet alpha?

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Definitely not (at least not by me!). I would also find it slightly offensive if someone asked me whether I did more than I was supposed to. –  fkraiem Jul 8 '14 at 14:11
Your question is not that clear to me. I do not think that "being ahead of one's obligations" (i.e. being in advance of scheduled obligations) means the same thing as "being on top of things" which means you master whatever these things are. Both answers given to you deal with what you said in the title of your question. So please, clarify. –  Laure Jul 8 '14 at 16:17
@Laure, Thanks, I'm not sure the exact English definition of 'on top of things'. The Title wins, feel free to suggest further edits to the body. –  musicwithoutpaper Jul 8 '14 at 18:50
You should edit your question according to what you want to know. If you want to know if the person is ahead of the project - as planned in original schedule than your title is wrong. –  Laure Jul 8 '14 at 18:54
@Laure, Done. I think this is better. –  musicwithoutpaper Jul 8 '14 at 18:59

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

En français on parle de « dominer son sujet ».

Est-ce que vous dominez bien le projet Alpha ?

Le verbe « dominer » peut aussi bien s'employer au sens propre :

J'ai pris la photo du haut du toit de façon à bien dominer l'ensemble de la scène.

ou métaphorique :

Tout se passe parfaitement, je domine bien la situation.

Dominer can be used in its literal sense or figurative sense (your sentence).

After your edit the following seem well suited for what you want to say :

Using "maîtriser" (control in English)

Est-ce que vous maîtriser bien le projet Alpha ?

There's the phrase « avoir les choses en main » :

Est-ce que vous avez le projet bien en main ? »

But you cannot ask if the person is au-dessus des choses which no one would understand in that case. If someone is au-dessus des choses it can either mean that he shows contempt, or at least that he doesn't care.

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Thanks, very helpful. Hopefully I'll be asking questions in French soon. :) –  musicwithoutpaper Jul 8 '14 at 21:02

Along the lines of “Are you (still) in control?” I'd suggest:

Est-ce que vous maîtrisez (toujours) la situation ?

If you want to be specific about the project:

Est-ce que vous maîtrisez la situation du projet Alpha ?

The latter sounds a little more pragmatic.

Also, reusing an expression suggested by Laure.

Est-ce que vous avez la situation bien en main ?

And this is, I believe, what corresponds best to your request. But I might be wrong since the context is not clearly set up.

Note: To be “au-dessus des choses” is highly connoted and can mean “having full understanding”, or “to be unconcerned” and the reason could be indifference or hauhgtiness. “Êtes-vous au dessus des choses ?” might well be interpreted as a sarcastic way of saying “Are you so pretentious as to not give a damn?”.

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Je n'ai jamais entendu cette expression « au-dessus des choses », et Google ne trouve rien de probant. Si on me demandait « Êtes-vous au dessus des choses ? », je répondrais « Pardon ? » ou « Vous pouvez la refaire en français ? ». D'où vient cette expression ? (Je devrais peut-être poser la question sur ce site ?) –  Gilles Jul 8 '14 at 17:37
@Gilles: « Au-dessus de ces choses-là » si tu préfères, et je ne l'ai pas inventé. Les premiers résultats sur google books pour ces deux expressions me laissent penser que l'origine, hum, originelle, puisse être biblique, avec un sens plus nôble. –  Stéphane Gimenez Jul 8 '14 at 18:14
Ah ben oui, « au-dessus de ces choses-là », c'est du français parfaitement normal. Mais je ne vois pas le rapport avec « au-dessus des choses ». –  Gilles Jul 8 '14 at 18:30
@Gilles voir cette occurrence, 3e §. –  Laure Jul 8 '14 at 18:33
@Laure Je cherchais du français. Le texte que tu cites est formé de mots français, mais pas de phrases françaises. C'est clairement une traduction mécanique de l'anglais (d'ailleurs voici l'original). –  Gilles Jul 8 '14 at 19:13

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