In the following sentence (in the short story I'm reading) :

Il passa devant moi, pris les marches.

I'm having trouble understanding the word "pris". My best guess for translating this sentence is "He passed in front of me, taking the stairs". But I would have expected "pris" to be instead a present particple of prendre, for this translation.

wordreference says that "pris" is either a past participle of prendre, or it's an adjective. I can't see how to make sense of "pris" if it was an adjective (what noun would it be modifying?), but I also don't understand how it is being used as a past participle.

1. What is "pris"? Is it a past participle? How is "pris" being used in this sentence? 2. What does this sentence mean?

  • 1
    My own reading would be that this is a typo for prit les marches, the third-person singular passé simple, and then a conjunction (et) absent for style. "He passed in front of me, [and] took the stairs." Not sure.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Apr 9, 2018 at 1:18
  • so, it's allowed in French to leave out the conjugation "et"? is this a frequent thing? what kind of feeling or idea does this style communicate?
    – silph
    Apr 9, 2018 at 1:35
  • 1
    @LukeSawczak : this deserves to be an answer, imho. silph: this omission can be used for style. It conveys a different rhythm. When you say "Il passa devant moi et prit les marches." you close the sentence, it is a full stop to the action. When you omit "et" you suggest something is following, because the natural question that comes to the reader's mind is "and?". But I am pretty sure this would deserve a question on its own.
    – Steph
    Apr 9, 2018 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


It looks wrong. It should be "prit" or "a pris" (less correct in the sentence). It is passé simple.

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