I'm reading Le Rouge et le Noir and I've found the next sentence:

Ah! Si j'eusse été ainsi, elle ne m'eût pas préféré Croisenois!

I understand that it can be translated as:

Ah! If I would have been like this she wouldn't have preferred Croisenois over me.

But I would have expressed this as:

Ah! Si j'eusse été ainsi, elle n'eût pas préféré Croisenois à moi!

Would that be correct? In case it is, is the first way of writing it preferable? Why is it so?

  • 3
    "Ah! Si j'eusse été ainsi, elle ne m'eût pas préféré Croisenois!" is very formal (and old fashionned)
    – Random
    Jan 27, 2016 at 14:57
  • Also, remember that you should put a (non-breaking) space before "!", "?", ";", ":" in French. Jan 30, 2016 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


Your re-phrasing is absolutely correct. But much less 1830-ish, so to speak.

The first way of writing is just an old-school way of speaking, but your understanding is very good.

  • 2
    I don't know, modernising the sentence gives me "Si j'avais ressemblé à ça, elle m'aurait pas préféré Croisenois", with a weak pronoun still. Using a strong pronoun instead sounds like child-speak to my ears. (I feel like we'd use another expression altogether to avoid that difficulty though) Jan 27, 2016 at 17:24
  • 2
    "Si j'avais ressemblé à ça, elle NE m'aurait pas préféré Croisenois"* ;)
    – Nico
    Jan 28, 2016 at 8:09
  • 1
    Sans oublier le "Ah !". Jan 30, 2016 at 17:36

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