I just said in conversation:

Au fil des années, j'en suis venu à me dire que ce que je faisais là ne serait jamais reconnu à sa juste valeur. Ce n’est pourtant pas faute de nous décarcasser pour faire en sorte que ...

{ pourtant / quand même / tout de même / pour autant }

In the flow of conversation, I can usually choose intuitively which of the four contrasting phrases above to use, depending on a surrounding expression, but as to the "ce n’est pourtant pas faute de ...", the why of the near-exclusive use of "pourtant" eludes me. I wonder why I almost never hear other contrasting phrases than "pourtant" used in this particular expression?

As far as I know, "pourtant" seems to imply a rather stronger contrast between the two ideas being presented. And whenever you say "ce n’est pourtant pas faute de ...", a strong contrast is indeed intended. I wonder if this goes some way to explaining the why?


1 Answer 1


Pourtant is the most common adverb that would be used here but there is at least this more formal alternative (pourtant is mainstream):

Ce n'est cependant pas faute de me1 décarcasser...

Your other suggestions quand même / tout de même / pour autant do not work.

The latter because it's not used that way as Lambie already commented.

About quand même and tout de même, I suspect the issue is due to the pas that follows.

Here is an attempt at explaining it:

Used in affirmative sentences, the three adverbs are close:

Il est pourtant parti !

Il est quand même parti !

Il est tout de même parti !

He left, despite a reason not to.

but in negative sentences, they are not:

Il n'est pourtant pas parti !

Il n'est quand même pas parti !

Il n'est tout de même pas parti !

In the first sentence, he didn't left while there was a reason to.

The remaining sentences usually means he did left and mark the surprise/disapproval (don't tell me he left!). Appending pas to quand même or tout de même lead to ambiguous expressions. That might be the reason why you won't find it in your sentence.

1 You need to keep the first person here, you are talking about your own experience.

  • So the sudden shift to "nous" pulls you up short? How would you paraphrase the 2nd sentence if you wanted to keep "nous décarcasser"? Perhaps, "malgré" comes in handy? Or how about placing the exclamatory "quand même" at the end: "On se décarcassait pour faire en sorte que ..., quand même !" At any rate, I want some alternative expression that packs as much punch as "Ce n’est pourtant pas faute de ...". Dec 2, 2017 at 1:50
  • To keep nous, I would use ce que nous faisions là / ce que l'on faisait là ce qu'on faisait là. About malgré: Ce n'est malgré tout pas faute de... is possible but perhaps slightly odd. Another adverb is toutefois, but it is very formal. It is unclear what register you are looking for. Your sentences are often very "proper French", more written than conversational French, malgré what the "I just said in conversation" introduction suggests..
    – jlliagre
    Dec 2, 2017 at 2:31
  • Thanks. Not so familiar register... I get that a lot. :P It's especially funny as I rarely read news articles like Le Monde which would usually account for any "stiffness" in one's language. Now that I've got past the "absorbing" phase in French, I'm moving on to organising and fine-tuning my current mixed registers. :P Dec 2, 2017 at 2:45
  • What do you think of: "Et (il faut dire que) c’est pas comme si on ne s'était pas décarcassé pour faire en sorte que ..."? Not word-for-word, but I suppose this is close in meaning to "Ce n’est pourtant pas faute de ...". Incidentally, in this "ce n'est pas comme si" phrasing, Imparfait "On se décarcassait" needs to change into Plus-que-parfait "on s'était décarcassé", correct? But at the same time, doesn't the use of Plus-que-parfait make it sound as if the great effort is just a one-time event, as opposed to something that lasted for some time which is normally expressed by Imparfait? Dec 2, 2017 at 4:02

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