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How can I be able to express that something will "end up" in a particular place or situation?

For example:

  • "If you keep getting in trouble, you may end up in jail."

  • "With good marks, you may end up studying in Harvard."

  • "You'll end up in the hospital if you don't keep your seatbelt on."

Is there a way to express this in French, or is it entirely dependent on the situation?

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

Le plus souvent, on utilise simplement finir pour « end up ».

  • If you keep getting in trouble, you may end up in jail.

    Tu risques de finir/de te retrouver en prison.

  • With good marks, you may end up studying in Harvard.

    …, tu finiras/réussira peut-être par/à étudier à Harvard

  • You'll end up in the hospital if you don't keep your seatbelt on.

    Tu finiras/termineras à l'hopital si…

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« Réussir par étudier » ça me semble douteux, ça mériterait une petite correction il me semble. – Stéphane Gimenez May 10 '14 at 14:32
@StéphaneGimenez plus que douteux en effet, merci. – jlliagre May 10 '14 at 16:32

You could use se retrouver in a lot of places where you say end up in English.

Si tu n'arrêtes pas tes bêtises, tu vas te retrouver en prison!

Vous allez vous retrouver à l'hôpital si vous ne bouclez pas votre ceinture.

I think this is more often used with a negative/unwanted place/situation to end up in, probably a bit more so than how you use to end up in English.
In speech, you can even go for a bit of redundancy to mark your point:

Si tu continues à avoir de si bonnes notes, tu vas finir par te retrouver à Harvard!

(Even if the outcome is, in fact, desirable, which I presume is the case above.)

The above is slightly informal. In more formal contexts, simply using the verb finir, suitably conjugated, will work just fine as jlliagre mentions.

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Aboutir is actually the verb you are looking for in this case.

Ex: Si tu ne respectes pas les lois, tu va aboutir en prison.

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The verb is a good suggestion, however the example sounds a bit odd. Maybe it's because aboutir is in a quite high langage level (or register) and the example used would suggest a more common register, if not slang. Good answer nonetheless. – Romain VALERI May 11 '14 at 0:20

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