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How to say "We went to the cinema and had dinner"? Can it be translated as "Nous sommes allés au cinéma et pris le diner"? or should I say "Nous sommes allés au cinéma et nous avons pris le diner"?

  • In English, you can't say "We went to the cinema and dinner"... – Random May 8 '16 at 12:32
  • @Random I agree that “We went to the cinema and dinner" is not as idiomatic as flipping (and “Americanizing”) the order of (& terms for) the events: “We went to dinner and the movies/a movie” (at least in Am. English), but I’m not sure that it can’t be said in the other order (and with the British terms). Regardless, the OP included “had” in his/her sentence, which would require “and then had/to dinner” to avoid ambiguity (did they have dinner at the cinema?), unless it’s a dine-in theatre that does serve dinner. – Papa Poule May 8 '16 at 13:45
  • @PapaPoule Ah ? I didn't know "We went to dinner" was a fine... is it ? I thought only "We went to the restaurant" or "We had dinner (in a restaurant)" were valid... fine to learn english in a french topic... :p – Random May 8 '16 at 20:50
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In fact, this is the question you must ask yourself :
Do the 2 expressions share the same verb or not ?

For example,

We went to the cinema, then (we went) to the restaurant.

Would be translated as :

Nous sommes allés au cinéma, puis (nous sommes allés) au restaurant

Because they share the same entire verbal form. The 'we went' part is therefore facultative.


However, one should translate

We went to the cinema and had dinner.

into

Nous sommes allés au cinéma et avons dinné.

Because they do not share the same verb. (you could find a better translation for the last one, but I took a litteral one)


So, in your case, the second translation should be used, although the same idea is more elegantly shared by the first translation.

  • I think "we went" could be translated as "sommes allés", which sounds more natual to me. But "avons été" is fine too ! – Random May 8 '16 at 12:33
  • Right ! Edited. – user10155 May 8 '16 at 14:02
  • Ce n'est pas parce qu'ils ne partagent pas le même auxiliaire qu'on ne peut pas factoriser davantage, mais bien parce qu'ils s'agit de formes verbales entières (ici du passé composé). – Anne Aunyme May 9 '16 at 12:18
  • Oui bien sûr. C'est pas clair ? – user10155 May 9 '16 at 12:42
  • pas vraiment: je comprends "one should translate (...) into (...) Because they do not share the same verb" comme le fait qu'on puisse par exemple dire "vous êtes passé devant chez moi et descendu de votre voiture". – Anne Aunyme May 9 '16 at 14:11
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The long (and correct) version is:

Nous sommes allés au cinéma et nous avons pris le diner.

A shorter (but still correct and more smooth) version is obtained by not repeating "nous":

Nous sommes allés au cinéma et avons pris le diner.

You can't shorten the sentence anymore whithout changing the structure. "sommes allés" and "avons pris" are here verbal forms and can't be cut.

Even if the two verbs use the same auxiliary, you can't always simplify, for example :

Nous sommes allés au cinéma et nous sommes tombés sur ta soeur.

Cannot be shortened into:

Nous sommes allés au cinéma et tombés sur ta soeur

However it seems that there are a few exception, as sentences like:

Tu es parti et revenu.

Elle a triché et gagné la partie.

Sounds perfectly correct.

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    I think it depends. “Nous sommes partis et revenus.” or “Nous avons mangé et dormi » are perfectly fine. – Stéphane Gimenez May 9 '16 at 12:25
  • That is true... I think I miss something here but am unable to find what. Maybe you should post an answer too. – Anne Aunyme May 9 '16 at 14:13
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none of your formulations are used. Usual ones would be:

"Nous sommes allés au cinéma, puis nous sommes allés manger."

"Nous sommes allés au cinéma, puis au restaurant."

"Nous sommes allés au cinéma, puis nous sommes allés dîner." (plus rare)

"Nous sommes allés au cinéma, puis nous avons dîné [en ville, à la maison]."

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    Quelques explications, ou au moins une phrase d'introduction seraient bienvenues... :) – Random May 8 '16 at 12:34

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