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« Pauvre Rylas... Combien de fois ne me suis-je pas disputé avec ce vieil homme... Je n'arrive pas à croire qu'il est mort... »

"Poor Rylas... How many times I argued with that old man... I cannot believe he is gone..."

I wonder why the negative "ne ... pas" is used here when the original English sentence does not include the word "not". How does this "ne ... pas" version compare with the following?

« Combien de fois me suis-je disputé avec ce vieil homme... »

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The negation is here to make clear this is a rhetorical question.

  • With Combien de fois me suis-je disputé avec ce vieil homme..., you are asking for the count which isn't really the point

  • With Combien de fois ne me suis-je pas disputé avec ce vieil homme..., you are just stating you argued a large number of times without actually asking anything.

This is exactly the reason why I added pas in my reply to another question of yours here.

  • Thanks. I find it interesting how you compose rhetorical questions in French. Could you come up with some other sentence that uses negation like this for the rhetorical purposes? – pourrait Peut-être Feb 18 '16 at 14:19
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    @pourraitpuet-etre When asking to your kid to go to bed : « Tu ne crois pas qu'il est l'heure d'aller te coucher ??? » – Random Feb 18 '16 at 14:40

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