2
  1. Une telle vie m'attirera peut-être irrésistiblement un jour.

  2. Une telle vie m'attirera irrésistiblement peut-être un jour.

  3. Une telle vie m'attirera irrésistiblement un jour, peut-être.

  4. Peut-être une telle vie m'attirera irrésistiblement un jour.

  5. Peut-être qu'une telle vie m'attirera irrésistiblement un jour.

Do all of these five sentences essentially work the same way? Or is any of them preferable to the others?

Also, I’m curious to see if there is any notable difference between the fourth and fifth version (whether to include "que" or not).

  • 2
    The 4th seems wrong to me. The 5th is the correct version. First, second and third seem correct to me. It may only be a matter of style IMO. – Kii Jul 23 '16 at 18:00
  • "Une telle vie, peut-être, m'attirera irrésistiblement un jour" is also a possibility. – Kii Jul 23 '16 at 18:12
  • 2
    Only the second sounds odd to me. @Kii : 4th is not wrong, the "qu'" is often dropped after "Peut-être", especially in literature. – Stéphane Jul 23 '16 at 19:06
  • 1
    @Stéphane Si peut-être est placé en début de phrase sans être suivie d'une complétive l'inversion du sujet est obligatoire, sans pour autant faire de la phrase une question. Voir cette réponse sur French Language et sur la BDL. If you drop the que without inverting the subject it is not literary it a mistake. – Laure Jul 24 '16 at 9:42
  • 1
    @Laure Agreed : Peut-être une telle vie m'attirera-t-elle irrésistiblement un jour. – RomainValeri Jul 25 '16 at 14:30
4

They all seem possible with peut-être (maybe) getting different scopes:

  1. maybe => irrésistiblement
  2. maybe => un jour
  3. maybe => une telle vie m'attirera irrésistiblement un jour
  4. maybe => une telle vie m'attirera irrésistiblement un jour
  5. maybe => une telle vie m'attirera irrésistiblement un jour

In (3), the modality is presented as an afterthought while (4) and (5) express a possibility. There is a stylistic difference between the standard (5) and the litterary (4).

  • # 4 is not correct. See my comment above to @Stéphane. – Laure Jul 24 '16 at 9:46
  • @Laure Well, Google has many occurrences of this construction with subject inversion in literary context, for example: Peut-être une telle philosophie ne devait-elle pas être un système. The argument made on the sites cited are about a sentence with a clitic subject tu and I agree these are not grammatical without the subject inversion but it is possible when the subject is a full NP: Peut-être une telle infinité n'existe pas de fait. Nothing in your source material seems to suggest otherwise. – GAM PUB Jul 24 '16 at 11:00
  • Your example Peut-être une telle philosophie ne devait-elle pas être un système has the subject inversion. Si le sujet est un nom, l’inversion se manifeste par l’ajout d’un pronom sujet placé après le verbe. Cette inversion, habituelle à l’écrit, n’est pas toujours présente à l’oral. Some people will not make the inversion orally (and not in literature) so as @jlliagre said it "is very incorrect but might be heard in lazy/broken/childish French". – Laure Jul 24 '16 at 11:24
  • 1
    My point is that if people come to FL to learn French and are likely to take exams the least we should to is to point at what will be considered wrong the day they will take an exam. – Laure Jul 24 '16 at 11:24
  • 1
    @Stéphane If you need examples I can give you plenty... kids say it all the time, and some adults as well, but it is not considered as correct and as I said in my previous comment "if people come to FL to learn French and are likely to take exams the least we should to is to point at what will be considered wrong the day they will take an exam." – Laure Jul 27 '16 at 18:14

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