1

Personne n'a toujours tenté de m'escroquer sur la récompense.

"ne ... toujours pas" means "still not / not yet"

"ne ... pas toujours" means "not always"

In this specific sentence, though, the "pas" (which usually serves to distinguish between the two meanings) does not exist on account of the presence of the "personne". So how can I know without relying on the context whether this "toujours" means "still not" or "not always"?

Substituting "encore" would make things simpler, but what about if you insist on using "toujours"?

Personne n'a encore tenté de m'escroquer sur la récompense.

  • 7
    Personne n'a toujours... as-tu vu ça quelque part ? Pour moi c'est totalement impossible dans cette phrase. Ce devrait être personne n'a jamais.... – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Sep 6 '16 at 16:05
  • @Laure: Yes, in a subtitle. So the "personne ne" and the "toujours" do not mix well? Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Sep 6 '16 at 16:12
  • 1
    What sort of subtitle ? if it's youtube they're rubbish. Yes personne and toujours can mix, depends on context. Personne n'a toujours raison would be possible, for example. SO will answer for sure. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Sep 6 '16 at 16:23
  • 1
    The first one is the original. Perhaps the writer meant to say "encore" and made an error in a subtitle? Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Sep 6 '16 at 17:42
  • 3
    How can you assert it was written that way? Do you have a copy if this play? A link? Can you post a screenshot? What drama is this? What author? As already stated, Personne n'a toujours tenté... is wrong. – jlliagre Sep 6 '16 at 20:02
1

I came across this sentence a while ago in the French subtitle for one of the episodes of the American TV drama Person of Interest.

I'm going to guess that its almost certainly a mangled translation of the phrase "Nobody has ever tried" or something similar. As everyone has repeatedly pointed out, the result is flat out ungrammatical in French.

The explanation is basically that English ever is a negative polarity item (it is overwhelmingly found in sentences featuring grammatical negation), but toujours in French is a positive polarity item with an even more restricted set of licensing contexts, meaning that while ever can appear in some affirmative contexts(1), it is practically impossible to construct a simple, grammatical negative sentence with toujours (other than when negating toujours itself, that is).

It is probably a safe bet that the "translator" was working off a dictionary and knew virtually no French at all, or the subtitles were outright thrown into an automated translator, because practically no competent French speaker could possibly come up with this sentence..

  1. e.g. "If I ever [...]", "only ever", the latter which I almost used in the parentheses.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.