For my piece, I have to write in sightly confident, almost boastful tone.

The sentence I want to say goes 'My parents really want me to go to university'. The next part I want to say is a rhetorical question: " - how else will I become successful?"

Can someone please help me translate this rhetorical qestion as all of the inernet translations don't seem entirely correct. Thank you.

  • For clarification, is the rhetorical question at issue being asked to you by your parents in support of their desire that you continue your education; or are you asking it to a third party (or yourself) to try to justify your decision to agree with your parents? Also, could you give us one or more examples of the internet translations that you've found and why you've found them to be less than adequate?
    – Papa Poule
    Jan 14, 2017 at 13:10
  • 1
    It's a question I'm asking myself. One translation I got was 'comment puis-je reussir'. However, I think this answer slightly strays from what I want to say.
    – M DM
    Jan 14, 2017 at 13:12
  • 1
    The "confident, almost boastful tone" does not really come across IMHO in jilliagre's and xenoid's answers - but I am not sure what that tone would be, and if it's possible to render it. I am not sure it comes out in the English either. Maybe it's just in the tone you would say it.
    – Frank
    Jan 14, 2017 at 14:59
  • M DM, @Frank rightly pointed the "boastful* tone requirement which is indeed unclear. How exactly do you want the rhetorical question to be understood? What is exactly the child's opinion about going to the university? Who is boastful, him/her or the parents?
    – jlliagre
    Jan 14, 2017 at 16:37
  • In this piece, I (the speaker) am speaking boastfully. Therefore, I am the one conferring the opinion on university.
    – M DM
    Jan 14, 2017 at 17:26

4 Answers 4


Mes parents souhaitent que je fasse des études supérieures. Comment réussir dans la vie autrement ?


Que faire d'autre pour avoir un bon job?


I'd use the conditional to mark that it's a hypothetical.

Mes parents ont très envie que j'aille à l'Université — comment réussirais-je autrement ?

Mes parents ont très envie que j'aille à l'Université — comment pourrais-je réussir autrement ?

Or, more "boastful" maybe,

Mes parents ont très envie que j'aille à l'Université — quoi d'autre, pour réussir ?

In speech, réussir without context is a bit unusual, so I'd probably say réussir dans la vie. That means to succeed in one's life, in general, not necessarily referring to any particular contest:

Mes parents ont très envie que j'aille à l'Université — sans ça, quelle serait ma chance de réussir dans la vie ?


By combining notions found in two of the existing answers, I think you could limit the notion of “vie” to that of “having/finding a good job” as proposed by @xenoid by using “vie professionnelle” (if that’s what you really mean by “be[ing] successful”), and use it with “comment réussir … autrement,” not only intransitively as proposed by @jlliagre, however, but also in its transitive form as follows:

“Mes parents souhaitent que je fasse des études supérieures. — Comment réussir ma/la/sa vie professionnelle autrement ?”

(example of “comment réussir” used transitively from business-leaded.ch)

Please note that I think you could also tag an appropriate declaration with the formal “n’est-ce pas?” (or simply with the less formal and potentially more emphatic "non?") to make it sound like a rhetorical given, perhaps as follows:

“Mes parents souhaitent que je fasse des études supérieures. Finalement, c’est le seul moyen de réussir [dans] la vie professionnelle, n’est-ce pas?/non?

  • You should state that French people understand but normally never use "n'est-ce pas" in a conversation. It is it is far too formal. I only have heard it from non native speakers, mostly English native ones for "isn't it" and similar question tags. It might be right here though, if the wanted effect is to mock the statement.
    – jlliagre
    Jan 14, 2017 at 16:53
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    "Ils en ont bien raison" is broken for me. "Ils ont bien raison" is ok. Also, "la seule moyen" should be "le seul moyen".
    – Frank
    Jan 14, 2017 at 19:54
  • "Peut-être ils ont bien raison" is not very correct :-) It doesn't cost much to say it right: "Peut-être ont-ils bien raison", and that form is not so obsolete. I use it all time.
    – Frank
    Jan 15, 2017 at 2:10
  • @Frank Thanks! Since I’m not familiar w/the need/preference for subject/verb inversion when following “peut-être” in declarations, I’ve decided just to omit those 2 bracketed phrases, which were intended merely as unnecessary declaratory asides to try to provide a logical bridge between what the parents want & the rhetorical question, & were not part of the rhetorical question itself. Inverting after “peut-être” when no notion of a question is present in the “peut-être” clause sounds a bit too “Yoda-like” to me, mais peut-être vais-je l’étudier plus profondement car je le trouve interessant!
    – Papa Poule
    Jan 15, 2017 at 16:52

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