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1) Si jamais il venait à tenter quoi que ce soit, on serait prévenues tout de suite !

= "If he should ever try anything funny, ..."

In the 1st example, the expression "venir à faire" serves to indicate a lower possibility of his unscrupulous actions than the version without it "si jamais il tentait ..." does.

2) Si jamais il en venait à tenter quoi que ce soit, on serait prévenues tout de suite !

= "If he ever came to try anything funny, ..."

In the 2nd example, on the other hand, the expression "en venir à faire" in the sense of "finir par faire" simply takes the form of Imparfait to describe a rather unlikely condition.


Q1. Given this, am I correct in assuming that the 1st is somewhat more unlikely than the 2nd?

Q2. You could never mix and match these two expressions and say "si jamais il venait à en venir à tenter ...", correct?

  • In English I’d use the notions of “he ever happening to” & “it ever coming to,” respectively, for the 2 French constructions at issue (but in English at least, I don’t see one as being more likely to occur than the other) ie: 1) “Si jamais il venait à tenter”=”If he ever happens to try something”..2) “Si jamais il en venait à tenter”=”If it ever comes to him/his trying something.” Mixing these two, in English at least, would, imo, decrease the likelihood (If it ever comes to him/his happening to try something) without it sounding quite as redundant as the combo in Q2. – Papa Poule Sep 24 '17 at 20:54
  • Dans "en venait à faire", il y a l'idée d'une cause ("en"), parfois explicitée précédemment, mais très souvent implicite. Par exemple, "Les autres sorties sont trop dangereuses. Il faudra bien qu'il en vienne à passer par ici." ; "S'il était en colère, il pourrait en venir à le frapper.". Au contraire, quand on dit "s'il vient à faire..." on ne pense à aucune cause particulière qui pourrait pousser le sujet à agir ; on part du postulat qu'il agira pour une raison ou une autre, et on en tire les conséquences. – Distic Sep 25 '17 at 8:18
2

"En", here, has the meaning of "from something (indicated before)".

It is a pronoun as defined here (second tab EN²).

Examples:

"Il était à l'école. Il en sort à l'instant." (il sort de l'école)

"Il a réfléchit. Il en a déduit la solution." (il a déduit de sa réflexion)

"Ils se sont disputés. Si jamais ils en venaient à se battre, ce serait dramatique." (à cause de cette dispute, s'ils venaient à se battre)

So both sentences (1/ and 2/) are correct but the meaning is a bit different as the second one uses "en" which is referring to something why/from "he comes to attempt...", and the first one refers to nothing particular but simply describes something that could happen.

Concerning Q2 "si jamais il venait à en venir à tenter ..."... is correct but surely the double usage of "venir" sounds not so good.

I'd prefer "si jamais il lui arrivait d'en venir à tenter..." or "si jamais il arrivait qu'il en vienne à tenter..." or something like that.

But the sentence is weird too because:

"si jamais" => in case of

"il venait" => it may happen

"tenter" => attempt

so that sounds like few possibilities that it will ever occur, finally...

0

Q1 : the only difference between the 2 sentences is en. The difference is the same as if he comes to and if he ever comes to.
Q2 : s'il venait à en venir can be heard. No strict grammatical problem. But s'il en venait is enough. Idem in english I I think : if he comes to ever come to try...
Attention cependant on dit toujours s'il en venait aux mains mais celà sort de votre question puisque aux mains n'est pas un verbe.

  • I don't think that is the difference in English. |If he comes to ever come to try| is not idiomatic. Idiomatic would be: If he ever came to try to [do something] or If he were ever to try [x] Et puis: si jamais il venait à en venir à tenter me semble pléonastique. – Lambie Sep 23 '17 at 22:09

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