2

I think he was right/wrong.

Is it correct to translate this as

(a) Je pense qu'il avait raison/tort.

or

(b) Je pense qu'il a eu raison/tort.

I'm not sure if being right/wrong should be considered as an event (which would require the passé composé) or a state (which would require the imparfait). Or can it be either depending on the context?

3

It can be both. For example, as a state (or context):

Quand il nous a expliqué que ce ne serait pas possible, je pense qu'il avait raison.

As an event (or a step in the narration):

On lui a dit de vendre la maison. Il a eu raison de ne pas le faire. Depuis les prix des logements ont flambé.

  • The first sentence feels more like an event to me than a state, since he is right about his explanation (thus, only about a specific thing at a specific time). Why is it a state/context to you? – pi66 May 8 '16 at 18:17
  • You have to understand the first sentence as “I think he was right (all along) while he was explaining”. Interestingly you could also say "Il nous a expliqué que ce ne serait pas possible et je pense qu'il a eu raison” but the meaning is really distinct. In this case it can only be understood as “I think he was right (to choose) to explain it to us”. – Stéphane Gimenez May 8 '16 at 18:28
  • It was a state in that it wasn't just a single event transpiring. The difference between the imparfait and the passé composé, you can see the different between whether it is stated as something which occurred continually or as a single event. @pi66 – Mason H. Hatfield May 8 '16 at 19:03

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