2

The question is on this sentence from chapter 6 of La porte étroite by André Gide.

Miss Ashburton, dont la santé depuis quelques mois déclinait, mourut quatre jours avant Noël.

Dorothy Bussy's translation runs:

Miss Ashburton, whose health had been declining for some months past, died four days before Christmas.

QUESTION

  1. Suppose I wanted to change the sentence to:

    Miss Ashburton, who had been ill for some months past, died four days before Christmas.

    Would French for that be:

    (1A) Miss Ashburton, qui était malade depuis quelques mois, mourut quatre jours avant Noël.

  2. Suppose I wanted to change the sentence to:

    Miss Ashburton, after being ill for some months past, died four days before Christmas.

    Which of the following would be correct French for that:

    (2A) Miss Ashburton, après être malade depuis quelques mois, mourut quatre jours avant Noël.
    (2B) Miss Ashburton, après avoir été malade depuis quelques mois, mourut quatre jours avant Noël.

  3. Suppose we dropped the depuis phrase. Would that change the answer? I.e. which of the following would be correct?

    (3A) Miss Ashburton, après être malade, mourut quatre jours avant Noël.
    (3B) Miss Ashburton, après avoir été malade, mourut quatre jours avant Noël.

  4. If we were saying the same thing as 2 but in the present, which of the following would be correct:

    (4A) Miss Ashburton, après être malade depuis quelques mois, meurt quatre jours avant Noël.
    (4B) Miss Ashburton, après avoir été malade depuis quelques mois, meurt quatre jours avant Noël.

  5. If we were saying the same thing as 3 but in the present, which of the following would be correct:

    (5A) Miss Ashburton, après être malade, meurt quatre jours avant Noël.
    (5B) Miss Ashburton, après avoir été malade, meurt quatre jours avant Noël.

Please make sure to give a definite answer to each of the five questions if you don't explain anything. Thank you.

BACKGROUND

This background is not part of the question. You don't have to read it.

What is motivating my question is noting that, though the period of decline would certainly have preceded (and terminated with) death, French does not make that sequence explicit the way English does with its had been.

The difference may be related to that in:

  • Je suis ici depuis deux jours.
  • I have been here two days.

and

  • j’y étais depuis deux jours quand je le rencontrai.
  • I had been there two days when I met him.

If I may say that déclinait and mourut (or étais and rencontrai) are "even" I am wondering whether that "evenness" is preserved when the imperfect is changed into a gerund phrase or French would now put the former imperfect "before" the simple past using an avoir form.

I note that French uses the avoir form even where English does not have to.

Alissa t’attend dans le jardin, me dit mon oncle, après m’avoir embrassé paternellement lorsque, à la fin d’avril, j’arrivai à Fongueusemare.

It so happens that Dorothy Bussy here matches the French structure:

"Alissa is waiting for you in the garden," said my uncle, after having embraced me paternally, when one day at the end of April I arrived at Fongueusemare.

In my view, however, "after embracing me" would have done too.

3

The answer to your question is:

(1A):correct

(2A): incorrect
(2B): correct

3.Suppose we dropped the depuis phrase. Would that change the answer? I.e. which of the following would be correct?

(3A) incorrect
(3B) correct

"depuis" in french is a time adverb "adverbe de temps", it can be easily shifting or/and it can be removed.

4.If we were saying the same thing as 2 but in the present, which of the following would be correct:

(4A) incorrect
(4B) correct

5.If we were saying the same thing as 3 but in the present, which of the following would be correct:

(5A) incorrect
(5B) correct

The correct proposition (5B) is not in the present "au présent". It is "au participe passé".

The simplest way to write this sentence with the verb "meurt" in the present is:

(5B) Miss Ashburton malade, meurt quatre jours avant Noël.

replace the proposition: "après avoir été malade" by l'adjectif: "malade"

  • Sans appel - I agree with with @sapienz, and it's pretty clear cut :-) – Frank Jan 24 '17 at 15:30
1

I agree with sapienz's answer, I don't think I need to write them again. I'll try to explain it a little more.

You sentence looks more or less like this:

[subject], after [action1], does/did [action2]

If the verb for action2 is anything but future tense, action1 is always resolved, so can't have present tense for action1 if you also have present tense (or past tense!) for action2.

Like you noted it your background, it has to do with the fact that there are two actions, one anterior to the other, so you have to show that.

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