1

Je n'avais rien qui ressemble de près ou de loin à une arme de chasse.

I wonder why the words "près(near)" and "loin(far)" are used in conjunction with the verb "ressembler". What might be the meaning of this entire phrase?

4

If you say

ça y ressemble de près

It means that if you get very close from the object, it will be very similar to what you are talking about (here, a hunting rifle). You may say that for an imitation for instance.

If you say

ça y ressemble de loin

It means you have to be far from the object to be able to say "it is the same" (here, it is a hunting rifle).
You will use this to point the fact that if you get closer, you easily see a difference.

So here

Je n'avais rien qui ressemble de près ou de loin à une arme de chasse.

Means you have neither a hunting rifle, nor something that could be used as a hunting rifle.

  • Merci. Does "ressembler de près" translate into "closely resemble", and "ressembler de loin" into "only remotely resemble"? – pourrait Peut-être Jan 15 '16 at 16:07
  • @pourraitpuet-etre It looks like the same. I've never heard your 2 suggestions in english so I can't tell you it is exactly the same, but "it remotly resemble" :) – Random Jan 15 '16 at 16:40
  • de loin : on distingue deux silhouettes qui se ressemblent, mais on ne voit pas de détails -- de près : on peut voir les détails qui indiquent la ressemblance de deux objets, mais parfois, on est trop près pour voir la silhouette. – cl-r Jan 15 '16 at 18:32
2

de près ou de loin is a french expression, that mean

In any manner

approximately.

This phrase mean :

I had nothing resembling in any manner to an hunting weapon.

1

"De près ou de loin" is a French expression meaning "considering every possibilities". It emphasis on the fact that nothing looked like what was looked for. Even considering a close inspection AND a macro-vision.

However, your sentence is incorrect, verb tenses should be linked. The correct sentence would be : "Je n'avais rien qui ressemblât de près ou de loin à une arme de chasse."

Literally, your sentence means : "I had nothing that looked like a hunting weapon".

A simple search on Google with this words returns this definition in French

  • 1
    "Je n'avais rien qui ressemble" looks fine for me. I think it is because "ressembler" is a state verb. So if it was, it is and will be... – Random Jan 15 '16 at 16:46
  • "Je n'avais rien" is past tense, and "qui ressemble" is present tense. That shouldn't be in my opinion. – Kii Jan 15 '16 at 16:53
  • For me, "ressemble" is nearly correct, because here it is "présent du subjonctif", and not "présent de l'indicatif". It's currently the most usual way to construct this kind of sentence, though really it should be "imparfait du subjonctif", according to the previous verb: "Je n'avais rien qui ressemblât...". But despite it's the only correct form, it tends to become outdated. >>> – cFreed Jan 15 '16 at 19:07
  • >>> To hear the different ways, replace "ressembler" by "avoir l'air": "Je n'avais rien qui a l'air..." is obviously incorrect; "Je n'avais rien qui ait l'air..." sounds correct and is now usually admitted; "Je n'avais rien qui eût l'air..." is theoretically the only correct form; finally "Je n'avais rien qui avait l'air..." ("imparfait de l'indicatif", the Kili suggestion) is also usually admitted, but sounds weirder. – cFreed Jan 15 '16 at 19:09
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What might be the meaning of this entire phrase?

Idiomatically it would be "I had nothing that looked like a hunting rifle from any angle" or perhaps "I had nothing that looked like a hunting rifle from any point of view."

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