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How do you say, "I didn't complain," in French? I think I heard this, and Google Translate confirms it:

Je n'ai pas à me plaindre.

But following my fuzzy understanding of basic conjugation rules for passé composé gives me this:

Je ne me suis pas plaint.

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1  
About tenses, this ngrams nicely summarizes the differences in usages. Other than that, the translation will depend on the context. “I didn't complain” in English expresses generally more than just a fact. –  Stéphane Gimenez Jan 14 at 20:21

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You are right, Google Translate is wrong.

“Ne pas avoir à se plaindre” is quite idiomatic and means approximately “to have no reason to complain”, i.e. to be satisfied with a general situation. The example from Alexandre is a great use of it.

  • Hows your new job? - Ah! Coworkers are nice, salary is decent, duties are challenging..! Je n'ai pas à me plaindre!

“Not to complain” would be “ne pas se plaindre”, simply.

Moreover, in that case, Google translate misidentified the tense: it translated a past tense into a present tense. You should indeed use a past tense in French too, the passé composé being the most logical here.

In the end, “ne pas se plaindre”, passé composé first person singular is indeed “Je ne me suis pas plaint”.

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Among the occurrences of “I didn't complain” (preterite) that translate to either “je ne me suis pas plaint” or “je ne me plains pas”, I suspect 95% would, in French, be in present tense. –  Stéphane Gimenez Jan 14 at 20:23
    
@StéphaneGimenez Do you have an example where “I didn’t complain” could be translated by “Je ne me plains pas”? I can’t think of one. –  Édouard Jan 14 at 22:26
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Je n'ai pas reçu de prix, je ne me plains pas. Anything really, about an event in the past. In French “je ne me suis pas plaint” would only be used to confirm you didn't actually complain when someone believe you did (whereas in English “I didn't complain” is a casual way to say there is/was nothing to complain about). –  Stéphane Gimenez Jan 15 at 12:27

I would say : "Je n'ai pas eu à me plaindre." But other forms are good too it all depend of the context of the sentence.

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Both are right. The translation is "Je ne me suis pas plaint" (eg1) but if you use it in a different context, you could say "je n'ai pas à me plaindre" (it's more an "expression", see below eg2))

Eg1: "Je ne me suis pas plaint du manque de chauffage" (I didn't complain about the lack of heating)

Eg2 : "J'ai un bon poste, je n'ai pas à me plaindre" (I have a good situation at work, I didn't complain)

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“Je n’ai pas à me plaindre” means approximately “I have no reason to complain”, it does not mean “I didn’t complain”. –  Édouard Jan 14 at 19:15

To add to @Raiana's answer.

"That millionaire guy felt generous when coming out of that bar last night: he gave me $100! Je ne me suis pas plaint!", generally referring to something in particular.

"- Hows your new job? - Ah! Coworkers are nice, salary is decent, duties are challenging..! Je n'ai pas à me plaindre!", refers more to a more global situation.

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