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I want to say "she bought me lunch" so could someone tell me which one of these suggestions is right?

elle me achetait le déjeuner

or

elle m'a acheté le déjeuner

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    Elision of the e in object pronouns me, te, se, le, and la is compulsory when they are placed before the verb. See article in wikipedia. Actually Elle m'a payé le déjeuner would be more colloquial French, but you'd be perfectly understood saying elle m'a acheté le déjeuner. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous May 14 '16 at 18:08
  • @laure Does this sentence require le? Is that the right article here? – temporary_user_name May 14 '16 at 18:18
  • You could do without if you say elle m'a payé à déjeuner or elle m'a acheté à déjeuner but then déjeuner is used as a verb, not as a noun. If using a noun yes you need the definite article le . Forgot to say first sentence is not correct. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous May 14 '16 at 18:21
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Although you asked about me vs m'a, you also changed the verb tense between the two options you offered. So I have to assume you know more than you're letting on.

As I'm guessing you know, m'a is the elision of me + a, the a being the third person singular conjugation of avoir to form the past participle. Elle m'a acheté le déjeuner = She bought me lunch.

The second option is in the imperfect past tense, which is not a compound tense: avoir is not used here, but the elision doesn't go away. me/te/se always elide with a verb that begins with a vowel. So it actually would be Elle m'achetait le déjeuner, which can translated myriad ways such as: She would buy me lunch, she used to buy me lunch, she was buying me lunch, etc. Imparfait can be nuanced.

But you're trying to describe a simple action that happened once and is now completed, so you want the past participle (participe passé), the first option: Elle m'a acheté le déjeuner.

  • I you say elle achetait le déjeuner quand son smartphone a sonné, it's imparfait for a "simple action that happened once". Just for the record, but your answer is correct. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous May 14 '16 at 18:31
  • True, but it's not a simple action that happened once and is now completed! – temporary_user_name May 14 '16 at 18:34
  • I'm trying to say that a girl bought me lunch in my work experience week, so would that be a simple action and therefore require "elle m'a acheté le déjeuner" or would i use "elle m'achetait le déjeuner" because she did this more than once? Thanks for your answer! – Rhianna May 15 '16 at 11:14
  • @Rhianna: You need to explain your context a little more. There is a nuance between « elle m'a acheté » and « elle m'achetait »: the former is in a more immediate (recent) past while the latter is further past and also implies a duration ("she was in the habit of buying me lunch"). – Urhixidur May 16 '16 at 20:11
  • @Rihanna > If you want to express someone bought you lunch each and every day of your work week, you could say "Elle m'a acheté le déjeuner chaque jour" – Laurent S. May 19 '16 at 15:58
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The main problem with your question are the suggestions you provide.

The correct tense would be the passé composé used in the second suggestion.

The sentence "elle m'a acheté le déjeuner" is correct, you will be understood, however if feels like you are implying the girl has bought you something to eat for lunch (like a take-away).

While they are both literal translations of "she bought me lunch" (although in two tenses but understandable), a more accurate translation should be "elle m'a invité(e, if you are a girl) à déjeuner".

It is indeed more frequent in French to say you have been invited to lunch rather than have had one bought. However, be careful for there is a little double entendre with this translation : one can either say it before going to lunch (which means she literally invited you and you do not know whether to go), or after (which then means you went to lunch with her and she paid for both).

As for the m'a/me issue, the m'a is a contraction of me + a (avoir, present 3rd person singular). "Elle me a invité" cannot be said, you have to contract. This is also true for any other verb which starts with a vowel ("je m'effondre par terre") and every pronoun ("elle s'insurge contre la reine").

I hope I could help you.

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