I came up with two example sentences, using « encore » in one and « déjà » in the other. Do I correctly understand their meanings?

1 : Albert est passé par ici il y a encore dix minutes. Tu pourras le rattraper si tu te hâtes.

I used « encore » with the meaning of "just" for emphasis. The sentence can be paraphrased as:

1+ : Albert vient tout juste de passer par ici il n'y a que dix minutes.

On the other hand, I placed « déjà » here to express the idea of "ten (long) minutes ago" – for the sake of emphasis again.

2 : Albert est passé par ici il y a déjà dix minutes. Tu ne risques pas de le rattraper.

  • I think the use of "encore" in this kind of sentences is kind of tricky... I'm personnaly not sure of it's exact meaning in your sentence number one... I would only understand what you meant by hearing the second part "Tu pourras le rattraper". At work, we use to say "dans le doute, reboot", but here, I would say "dans le doute, trouve un autre moyen", even if the rhyme disappears... ;) – Random Oct 17 '16 at 18:52
  • @Random How do you feel about saying "il y a seulement dix minutes" or "il n'y a que dix minutes"? Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Oct 17 '16 at 19:26
  • This might/might not have anything to do with why it's being said that "encore" doesn't seem to work in this case, but I've noticed that "il y a déjà" in the "already" sense is often found following the passé composé whereas "il y a encore" in the "until just a few" sense is often used following the imparfait and/or states of being [where, perhaps coincidentally, you could fit "encore" directly after the verb instead] (Albert passait [encore] par ici/était [encore] ici/ il y a [encore] dix minutes.) – Papa Poule Oct 17 '16 at 23:22
  • @LUNA it sounds very natural, yes. – Random Oct 18 '16 at 7:34

In the first sentence, using juste or à peine instead of encore would be clearer.

Albert est passé par ici il y a juste dix minutes. Tu pourras le rattraper si tu te hâtes.

The second sentence is fine and match your goal.

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  • "tout juste" may be a good one too ! – Random Oct 17 '16 at 18:44
  • A native French speaker in my office tends to use « encore » in this exact fashion. So it has rubbed off on me, ha-ha. Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Oct 17 '16 at 19:02
  • Encore is not to be completely ruled out. Il y a encore dix minutes, Albert est passé par ici is idiomatic French, like the more usual il était encore là il y a dix minutes. – jlliagre Oct 18 '16 at 7:26
  • @jlliagre Indeed, "encore là" sounds much more natural to me than "encore dix minutes" – Random Oct 18 '16 at 7:33
  • 1
    @LUNA The construction is correct and idiomatic. Juste means precisely here while même pas dix minutes is "not even ten minutes ago". – jlliagre Oct 19 '16 at 7:06

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