1

How would you say some in French? As in "Some lady asked you...". Would you say

Une dame quelconque vous a demandé

7

Lorsque some concerne une seule personne on le traduit par un ou une, et le contexte de la phrase permettra de préciser la spécificité de cette personne.

Une femme1 vous a demandé...

Pour la seconde partie de la question, “He's asking for some book you own” :

Il demande un de vos livres.


1 - Cf. : le choix de traduire lady en femme.

  • 1) Je pense que la traduction de lady dans cette phrase serait légèrement mieux rendue par "dame" que par "femme" (qui aurait correspondu à woman). Il peut en français comme en anglais s'agir d'un terme d'adresse respectueux sans forcément de connotation de classe sociale. Par exemple un patron de café dira à sa serveuse: "La dame de la 17 a commandé un jambon-beurre", pas "la femme". – qoba Jun 26 '16 at 22:40
  • 2) "Une femme quelconque" signifie some random woman. Il y a l'accent sur le fait qu'il s'agit vraiment de quelqu'un qui était là par pur hasard voire par erreur – qoba Jun 26 '16 at 22:43
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    @qoba -- J'ai complété ma réponse en tenant compte de vos commentaires – cl-r Jun 27 '16 at 19:48
  • J'ai supprimé le hors sujet. Je te propose de rependre le contenu dans une réponse à la question « Dans quel contexte le mot dame est-il utilisé ? » (qui peut être posée sur le site). – Stéphane Gimenez Jun 29 '16 at 9:22
0

On peut aussi dire:

Quelque femme vous a demandé.

Mais cela n'est pas à utiliser en dehors d'un cadre littéraire.

0

A commentary on informal usage, in complement of the other answers:

In spoken French, we strongly avoid having indefinite referents, or referents that are new to the conversation(1), in the subject position.

Instead, we use a clause with the verb y avoir (usually translated as "there is", but more really meaning "there exists" hence the term "existential cleft" describing this structure in the literature) to introduce the new information, and have the main verb in a subordinate sentence with qui as the subject.

In a text or when speaking, what you'll have most of the time is thus:

Y'a une dame qui t'a demandé

Which keeps the new information (une dame) in the more suitable role of an object.


(1) These two categories tend to overlap each other of course.

  • I completely disagree with this answer... I don't think "y'a XX qui..." is more used than the indefinite form. And it's certainly not used that much in written text. I also don't agree that in this form "une dame" is an object : "Il y a des hommes qui t'ont demandé", the verb is plural, according to the subject, "des hommes". Now I may have misunderstood what you meant... – Laurent S. Jun 28 '16 at 8:05
  • @LaurentS. "in a text" = in a text message, dans un SMS, dans un texto, (or say in a tweet) not in a written formal document. In your sentence, "des hommes" is the syntactic object of "il y a" and the semantic subject of "t'ont" but the syntactic subject of the second verb is "qui". As for frequency of use of the cleft vs. the canonical subject position, I can't find any corpus study online about it, just absolute frequencies of the cleft in different medium (arts.kuleuven.be/ling/presentationalclefts/…, p. 10). – Eau qui dort Jun 28 '16 at 20:19
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    Nevertheless, I maintain that an indefinite NP is relatively infelicitous in subject position in Spoken French in an All-Focus context (i.e. as a plausible answer to “Qu’est-ce qui se passe ?”), as is its subject doubled equivalent (“Une femme, elle t’a demandé…”). Think about the number of dumb jokes or street stories that begin with “Y’a un mec, il…”. That's the usual way to form that kind of sentence. – Eau qui dort Jun 28 '16 at 20:20
  • I don't agree at all. Thinking of jokes : "Un juif, un arabe et un catholique entrent dans un bar", "un mec attend au feu", etc... ". I find "il y a" very emphatic for such texts. I would also never use such extra characters in a SMS or a tweet, just because it's faster to not use extra characters. Thanks anyway for the grammatical correction on subject/object, on this I totally agree. – Laurent S. Jun 30 '16 at 14:19

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