1

I came across two sentences that make it seem that "tellement" is a conjunction, but it is not listed as such in the dictionary. This question also asks if it is a conjunction, but there does not seem to be an answer given to this question.


The first sentence I came across was this:

(1) J'en tremblais tellement ça me faisait du bien.

I had noticed that the sentence structure was unfamiliar to me; "ça me faisait du bien" ("It did me some good") seems to be some kind of independent clause (ie, a "mini sentence that can stand on its own"), but strangely coming directly after another independent clause ("J'en tremblais tellement", "I was trembling from it so much"), without a conjunction in between.

Anyways, I looked up the word "trembler" in wordreference, and to my surprise, one of the example sentences was:

(2) La jeune femme tremblait tellement elle avait froid.
The young woman was so cold that she was shivering.

It seems that tellement acts like a conjunction, but the wordreference page does not list it as a conjunction.

According to (2), it seems that "tellement" is a kind of adverb + conjunction, meaning "because the verb in the following mini-sentence was so intense": "The young woman shivered because she was so very cold."

If I try to apply this to (1), though, I get: "I was trembling from it because it did me so much good" (and not "I was trembling so much from it because it did me good").

So even if tellement is a conjunction, I'm not sure if it's modifying the verb (by intensifying it with "so much") in the first mini-sentence, or the second mini-sentence.


In the linked question, the following sentence does not have a translation in English on that page:

Ses parents sont restés sans voix tellement c'était incroyablement délicieux.

If I had to guess a translation, I would either guess:

  • "Their parents intensely ("so much") remained without speaking, because it was incredibly good", or
  • "Their parents remained without speaking, because it was incredibly so intensely good.

Questions:
- Is my guess that "tellement" is a conjunction correct? If so, what reference might be able to tell me this information?
- Does "tellement" modify the verb in the first independent clause, or the second independent clause?

3

Tellement is modifying the second independent clause in your examples. It is used as a conjunction introducing a cause, like parce que, car...

This usage is documented in the TLFi:

C. − [Introd. une causale, la causalité étant suggérée par une simple juxtaposition] Je serais certain de t'y conduire les yeux fermés, tellement je connais les moindres chemins de traverse (Zola, Débâcle, 1892, p. 480).Il ne savait plus s'il existait seulement, tellement toute sa personne était supprimée (Ramuz, Gde peur mont., 1926, p. 233).

It shouldn't be confused with tellement ... que which introduces a consequence, not a cause.

  • Given that the TLFi is waaay too intimidating for me to read, it really does seem like I couldn't have looked this up on my own. Thank you! – silph Apr 7 '18 at 21:22
2

I'm not a grammar expert but I am French so I'll try to explain with my own words.

You can reverse the 2 clauses of the sentence depending of whether you use "tellement" or "tellement que". Eg:

  • J'en tremblais tellement ça me faisait du bien. or
  • Ca me faisais tellement du bien que j'en tremblais

In the two cases it means: It was so good that I was shaking.

  • La jeune femme tremblait tellement elle avait froid. or
  • La jeune femme avait tellement froid qu'elle tremblait

The young woman was so cold that she was shivering

Your third sentence seems unnatural to me as putting two "emphasizing" words in the same sentence (tellement and incroyablement) is just too much. So you could say:

  • Ses parents sont restés sans voix, c'était incroyablement délicieux.
  • Ses parents sont restés sans voix tellement c'était délicieux.
  • C'était tellement délicieux que ses parent sont restés sans voix. Translation: It was so delicious that her parent was amazed ("sans voix" is an expression, you don't need to translate it litteraly)

To conclude: There are 2 ways to use tellement in a sentence. The first one is similar to the use of "so" in english:

  • C'est tellement ...(adjective) que ...(effect).
  • It's so...(adjective) than ...(effect).

This order is correct, but you can also say:

  • (effect)...tellement...(adjectiv) This way you put emphasis on the effect.

Eg:

  • La jeune femme tremblait tellement elle avait froid.

In this sentence you put emphasis on the woman, you're describing what happened to her.

  • La jeune femme avait tellement froid qu'elle tremblait.

Here you stress the fact it was so sooooo cold!

I hope it will help you!

  • I appreciate your example at the end, that shows how you could switch the two parts (and use "tellement que" instead) in order to put emphasis on one part of the other. – silph Apr 7 '18 at 21:53
  • I forgot to precise : tellement in not a conjuction, it is an adverb. There is only 7 conjonctions de coordination which are : mais, ou, et, donc, or, ni, car. French teachers have a trick to make kids remember : prononced, it can be heard as : Mais où est donc Ornicar? (But where is Ornicar ?) – Melinda Apr 7 '18 at 22:11
  • @Melinda Your answer is quite correct and interesting but this comment, on the other hand, is wrong. Yes, there are 7 "conjonctions de coordination" but there are many more "conjonctions de subordination" (such as "parce que"). Here, "tellement" can roughly be replaced by "parce que", which makes it a "conjonction de subordination". – Steph Apr 9 '18 at 7:15
0

Tellement may have have three uses:

  1. Adverb of degree
  2. Quantifiers modifying noun
  3. In conjuctive clauses (tellement...que)

As an adverb tellement means so, so much. It is synonyme of tant.

http://www.wordreference.com/fren/tellement

As a quantifier of a noun it can be used as the following phrase:

Nous eûmes tellement de problèmes que nous décidâmes de nous séparer (We had so many problems that we decided to split up)

Conjecutive subordinate clauses mark the consequences of something and are introduced by various expressions, all of which mean so that and among them it belongs tellement...que. For instance,

J'ai été tellement blessée par des gens que je prenais pour des amis qu'aujourd'hui je suis méfiante. (I'he been hurt so much by people I thought were friends that nowadays I'm suspicious.)

  • In all three sentences, tellement seems to be a conjunction, but there is no "que" in any of them. Does this mean that "tellement" is not a conjunction in these sentences? – silph Apr 7 '18 at 20:14
  • Sorry for the incomplete answer. See the edit. Tellement can have several functions; not only conjuction. – Dimitris Apr 7 '18 at 20:23

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