Le mariage n'est que dans un mois, mais les gens ne parlent déjà que de ça.

The context helps you to understand that the speaker intends the meaning of Version 1. But what if you want to express the idea of Version 2 instead? How do you paraphrase the first part of the sentence to clearly distinguish between the two possible interpretations?

  1. We’re still (only) a month away from the wedding, but (unreasonably) people are already super excited about it.

    { It’s still a long wait! }

On the other hand:

  1. The wedding is just a month away, so (naturally) people are super excited about it.

    { It will happen soon! }

  • Not sure I understand you question (why ask about ne... que?) but if your question is about the connector between the two sentences I'd use " ... c'est pour ça que les gens ne parlent que de ça. " – None Jul 5 '16 at 12:43
  • @Laure I was wondering how to express the two similarly constructed phrase (in bold) differently, perhaps by placing the "ne ... que" in different spots. Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jul 5 '16 at 13:00
  • @Laure In English, these two versions both use the restrictive word "just" or "only" and look similar at first glance, but their meanings are opposites of one another. So I assumed that in French too, the same sort of ambiguity (at least for non-natives) might arise from similar constructions. Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jul 5 '16 at 13:07
  • There's no difference in English either if you use only in both sentences. – None Jul 5 '16 at 13:32
  • @Laure Le mariage n'est que dans un mois, il faut qu'on se dépêche ! - Le mariage n'est que dans un mois, on a encore le temps... – Destal Jul 5 '16 at 14:30

The ambiguity exists in English with "only" as well. To get the first meaning unambiguously, you'd say

Le mariage n'est encore que dans un mois

And for the second one:

Le mariage n'est plus que dans un mois

PS: "wedding" is probably what is meant here instead of "marriage"

  • Precisely! I wasn't seeing the forest for the trees. Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jul 5 '16 at 13:20
  • "Le mariage n'est que dans un mois" -- Do even French native speakers find this construction (without "encore" or "plus") somewhat ambiguous? Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jul 5 '16 at 13:31
  • Yes (at least in my case) – qoba Jul 5 '16 at 13:51
  • 2
    Yes, you can understand it as it's a month away so we have time until it or it's a month away so we have to hurry. qoba gave the right solution to avoid any ambiguity. Personally I would say Le mariage est déjà dans un mois for the second case, but maybe it is only spoken language. – Destal Jul 5 '16 at 14:28

To get the second meaning:

Le mariage n'est plus que dans un mois, mais les gens ne parlent déjà que de ça.

In this case, plus is a comparative, "n'est plus que" insist on the short delay.

You might use donc instead of déjà, however do not use both " ... donc dèjà ..."

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