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I find it helpful when I can recognize what construction / parts of speech unfamiliar words (or clauses) belong to. That is, if I recognize a grammatical construction, I feel like I have a good chance of later understanding the sentence.

I have no guesses about what constructions / tenses etc are used to create "offerts à gagner" in the following sentence that I see on my McDonald's take-out bag:

20 forfaits vacances « Grande aventure canadienne » offerts à gagner dans le cadre du jeu!
(20 “Great Canadian Adventure” Trips available to be won in the Game!)

(To be fair, I don't know what grammar is used in the English "available to be won", either.) I understand "20 Great Canadian Adventure Trips" is acting as a subject, but I don't understand what grammar constructs "available to be won".

My guesses don't illuminate. My first guess is that it kind of sounds like the passive voice, but when I look up passive voice constructions in French, none of them match "offerts à gagner". My second thought is "I don't know where the verb is; that is, the verb that follows the [subject] [verb] construction". "Available" sounds like an adjective or an adverb. "20 Trips [are] to be won" – is that the basic sentence? I'm not sure.

  • This answer used to say "forfait" and "offert", instead of "forfaits" and "offerts". pequatre's post below had me double check that I copied the bag correctly. – silph Oct 11 '15 at 19:16
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In French I would call this "phrase nominale", as opposed to "phrase verbale" which would include a conjugated verb.

phrase nominale :

20 forfaits offerts ! (participe passé du verbe "offrir" utilisé comme adjectif épithète)

phrase verbale

20 forfaits sont offerts ! (forme passive du verbe "offrir" à l'indicatif présent)

  • Thanks! Entering "phrase nominale" and "phrase verbale" results in some websites that talk about advertisements and headlines. They also talk about 4 other types of sentences, too. This is a grammar idea I hadn't run across, so it is helpful to know what these constructions are called so I can research them! Also: do your two parnethetical remarks mean "Past participle of the word offrir used like an adjective" and "Passive voice form of the word offrir in the indicatif présent"? If not, someone please correct my guess. (Google translate's translations, I suspect, are incorrect ;-) ) – silph Oct 12 '15 at 4:56
  • yes, you are correct. I've edited my post to make it (hopefully) more clear. – radouxju Oct 12 '15 at 5:14
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Firstly, for the sentence to be correct, there should be 's' to "forfait" and "offert", because it's a plural (there are 20 trips to be won, not just one). Secondly, as a French, "offerts à gagner" sounds to me like saying the same thing twice: "20 forfaits offerts" or "20 forfaits à gagner" both mean there's some contest, and as prizes, 20 free trips to Canada (in "20 forfaits offerts", even though "offerts" literally means "given for free", i think no one expects MacDonald to give free vacations to anyone showing up at one of its restaurants (even in the limit of 20). There must be some kind of lottery). Maybe they've been told by their legal department to add "à gagner" to make it clear that the trips are not just "offered", i don't know, but then "20 forfaits à gagner" would be perfectly fine, because if you win one of them, you expect it to be free ("Sorry sir, you did win a trip but you must still pay for it"...what would be the point then ?)

So, to answer your question: they forgot the 's' on 'forfait' and 'offert' on their bags (or you made a mistake when typing your post). "20 forfaits offerts à gagner" literally means "20 trips offered and to be won", but in French you would say "20 forfaits offerts" or "20 forfaits à gagner".

(And to be complete, i am not really sure "forfait" literally means "trip", but in this context, that's a good translation, "forfait" implies everything (flight, accomodation,etc...) is already paid for).

  • I found the explanation about why it should be offerts instead of offert helpful. It was unhelpful for this part of the answer to have been edited out. I only knew to look at the unedited version because the email notification I got displays part of the first sentence of the original post (ie, which was a sentence that was edited out). Even if I had made a mistake copying the bag, it still would have been helpful for this mistake to have been brought to my attention in the way that the poster had done. – silph Oct 11 '15 at 16:47
  • Is offert(s) here the verb, then? Or is it an adjective? – silph Oct 11 '15 at 16:50
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    @silph This sentence doesn't have a proper verb. “Offerts” is a past participle, and the sentence is built around it; the wording is rather clumsy, but fairly typical of ads that put buzzwords above clarity (except for the lack of pluralization, which is really over the top). – Gilles 'SO nous est hostile' Oct 11 '15 at 18:16
  • This interests me, Gilles! Would you be willing to write an answer, outlining what the "full" sentence would be, or why the wording is clumsy and what better wording would be? Or what you mean by the ad being built around the past participle? – silph Oct 11 '15 at 18:30
  • I have an apology to make! I went out just now and bought another item from McDonald's, and the bag indeed does have the correct pluralization. It's strange that last night I thought I was being very careful about copying the text exactly. I appreciate pequatre's response essentially asking me to double check if I had made an error copying the text. Also, I hope my comment about the editting did not come across as too harsh. I do appreciate all the work you all do here for us learners. – silph Oct 11 '15 at 18:59

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