6

In my journalling, I wanted to write "They only want me to buy what they sell", and so I wrote this sentence, which uses "ne..que" to translate "only":

Ils ne veulent que que j'achète ce qu'ils vendent.

Is it really okay to have "que" repeat, as in "que que"?

  • @silph: Can you clarify - what is it exactly that you want to say? Is it "All they want is for me to buy what they sell", or "They want me to buy nothing apart from what they sell", or something else? (The sentence "They only want me to buy what they sell" can have multiple meanings in English...) – psmears Dec 27 '17 at 17:38
  • @psmears: jilliagre understood what I wanted to say: That the only thing that they care about is that I buy their products. (If I was journalling in English, I would have written something like: "Most of the emails I get are from companies pretending to be my friend, but really the only thing they care about is that I buy their stuff. Deception is the most important idea driving our economic culture.". The closest way I knew how to say that in French, at the time, was by translating "They only want that I buy what they sell".) – silph Dec 27 '17 at 19:27
  • Thanks for the clarification - good to have confirmation :) – psmears Dec 27 '17 at 21:43
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No, que que cannot appear in regular text except if the second que is a substantive or to mark hesitation/sluttering:

On ne doit pas utiliser que « que » pour traduire what.

Tu dis que... que j'ai tort ?

I would rephrase your sentence that way:

La seule chose qu'ils veulent, c'est que j'achète ce qu'ils vendent.

Or another valid substitute:

Ils veulent seulement que j'achète ce qu'ils vendent

Note that:

Ils veulent que je n'achète que ce qu'ils vendent

would fix the "que que" issue but is an incorrect translation has a different meaning.

The first translation says the only thing they have in mind is that you buy their things (but your are free to buy other things elsewhere too) while the second one says, one of the things they have is mind is that you buy their things and nothing else.

  • 2
    Actually "ils veulent que je n'achète..." isn't necessarily an incorrect translation, depending on the context, because the original English sentence is ambiguous and can have both meanings... – psmears Dec 27 '17 at 17:03
  • @psmears Interesting. Thanks. I wouldn't have expected this alternate meaning. The OP should then state what is the expected one. Answer updated. – jlliagre Dec 27 '17 at 17:17
  • Good point - I've commented on the question asking for clarification :-) – psmears Dec 27 '17 at 17:38
3

Ils ne veulent que que j'achète ce qu'ils vendent.

You have all the words needed, but not in the right order.

Ils veulent que je n'achète que ce qu'ils vendent.

Your English version only could use some rewriting.

They want me to buy only what they sell.

  • They want [that] - Ils veulent que
  • me - je
  • to buy only - n'achète que
  • what they sell - ce qu'ils vendent.
  • 5
    "They want me to buy only what they sell." doesn't mean "They only want me to buy what they sell" – jlliagre Dec 27 '17 at 11:13

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