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I encountered this while reading Astérix. The line of dialogue, uttered by Cleopatra to an architect building her a palace, is as follows:

Je te préviens, Numérobis, Amonbofis, ton concurrent, t'en veut beaucoup d'avoir été choisi à sa place pour construire le palais de César.

I understand this to mean "I should warn you that your competitor Numérobis wants very much to have been chosen instead of you to construct Caesar's palace."

However, the t'en is odd to me. Why not omit that and say à ta place instead? Is this really the best way to phrase that? I would never have known to write it that way.

  • 1
    En vouloir à quelqu'un se trouve dans tous les dictionnaires. À la/ta/sa/ place aussi. – Laure Apr 2 '17 at 18:11
  • Colloquially, I often use the construction: "je t'en voudrai(s) pas si tu ...". – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Apr 2 '17 at 18:28
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    @Laure you have to appreciate that it's not a simple matter to distinguish between cases where se/te/me/etc or en/y are present on their own merits from cases where they're forming an unfamiliar set phrase like en vouloir à quelqu'un. For instance, if in some context I saw the words t'en donne, my first thought would not be that it's a set phrase en donner à quelqu'un with an idiomatic meaning, but rather the more obvious interpretation that something is being given to someone. Same here. It did not occur to me to look this up as a set phrase. – temporary_user_name Apr 2 '17 at 22:23
  • The citation is wrong, leading DRz into thinking Frank is wrong. He's only wrong of knowing Astérix too much. «Je te préviens, Numérobis, Amonbofis, ton concurrent, t’en veut beaucoup d’avoir été choisi à sa place...» Amonbofis is resentful at Numérobis, and Cléopâtre is warning Numérobis about it. – ﺪﺪﺪ Apr 6 '17 at 23:13
  • Oh, right you are. That's my mistake. I'll edit it. – temporary_user_name Apr 7 '17 at 0:04
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This is a bit different. It means that “Amonbofis (your competitor) is resentful toward you”. En vouloir à quelqu'un means to be resentful.

3

The selected answer is wrong.

Most of the time, when there are commas, you can take off the sentence in the middle, because they only add information.

The sentence here is a bit tricky because it goes like :

  • "Je te préviens,"
  • "Numérobis, ..., t'en veut beaucoup d'avoir été choisi par César à sa place."
  • ", ton concurrent,"

@Frank correctly translated the expression but nobody is resentful to Numérobis, because Numérobis is the resentful concurrent.

  • True, if only because whereas the first comma is stylistically undesirable here (in lieu of a colon or "que"), the second comma would be grammatically impossible if Numérobis were the addressee. I'd suggest that for a correction you add it as a comment rather than a new answer, because this answer ne renvoie pas vraiment à la question but to another answer. – Luke Sawczak Apr 6 '17 at 13:28
  • Oh, I knew this was what it meant after finding out en vouloir à qq meant to be resentful of someone-- I didn't even notice the error in Frank's answer. It's a reasonable mistake, that is an ambiguous comma without more context. You are correct that Numérobis is the resentful one. – temporary_user_name Apr 6 '17 at 20:56
  • You're correct that there was something wrong but your analysis doesn't make sense and the grammatical breakdown you give doesn't work. It doesn't really make sense to treat a “proposition juxtaposée” as a complement of a “proposition principale”: there are two propositions which are juxtaposed, “je te préviens, Numérobis” and “Amonbofis, ton concurrent, t'en veut …”. The fragment “ton concurrent” is not a proposition at all (there's no verb!), it is a complement of “Amonbofis”. – Gilles May 15 '17 at 21:45
  • Anyone who knows the story will tell you that Amonbofis actually is the resentful concurrent. The sentence could be translated like this: I warn you Numerobis, that Amonbofis your concurrent is resentful... – Hulothe May 16 '17 at 8:02
  • @Hulthe: The quote by Aerovistae was wrong initially. Hence the misunderstanding. – Stéphane Gimenez May 18 '17 at 16:05
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"Il t'en veut" = "il te en veut" = "il en veut à toi", he is mad at you

"t'en" = "te en" = "envers toi" = towards/at you

But we cannot say "te en", which is why we replace it by "t'en".

Another example is "je t'en prie" for "if it pleases you" ("you're welcome").

In both case it is a sentiment (negative or positive) express towards you, at you.

Je te préviens, Numérobis, ton concurrent, t'en veut beaucoup d'avoir été choisi à sa place pour construire le palais de César.

becomes

I warn you, Edifis, your competitor, is really mad at you for having been chosen in his place to build the palace of Caesar.

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