I was wondering if this translation is one I could use in French. To give some context, the phrase would be said in reply to another person saying something along the lines of 'where were you?/I've been looking for you everywhere.' The reply would, thus, convey the idea that the answer is fairly obvious and that it should've been easy to locate the person.

'Si je ne suis pas ici, il n'y a qu'une autre endroit où je peux être.'

If I'm not here, there's only one other place I can be.

However, if it is a sure thing, should I instead use '... où je serai,' in the future simple, rather than 'peut être,' or would either one convey the meaning that is intended.


If the beginnig of the sentense is in the present "je ne suis pas ici" you will not use future to describe where you are. You can use present to describe where you are or conditionnal for where you could be (il n'y a qu'un autre endroit où je pourrais être). But the usage of the future could be right depending of the context.

  • Oh yeah, that makes sense. Would I drop 'autre' as well? Or is there a better way of saying 'one other place?' – Armaan Kapila Nov 12 '18 at 16:28
  • sorry I just forget the "autre" (I'll edit it) , and I've saw that you used "une" with endroit, you have to use "un" – Baptiste Gavalda Nov 12 '18 at 16:30
  • you can use "autre" or not. It's still correct, the 'autre' just add a double precision that you can't be here, the same thing as in english I guess. – Baptiste Gavalda Nov 12 '18 at 16:33

It seems the title of the question is not proper; it seems it should instead be something such as

"Do the following English and French contexts correspond and what can be said of the tense of the verb? Is the future an option?".

A_ The contexts do correspond.

B_ You cannot use the future; the present subjunctive is required here or the present conditional. However, the traditional use of the subjunctive is being supplanted nowadays by the present.

1/ Si je ne suis pas ici, il n'y a qu'un autre endroit où je puisse être.
2/ Si je ne suis pas ici, il y n'y a qu'un autre endroit où je peux être.
3/ Si je ne suis pas ici, il n'y a qu'un autre endroit où je pourrais être.

In "1/" there is a simple coding of a state that is not real (by means of the subjunctive); in "2/" there is some emphasis on the aspect of realisable possibility in the state that is conferred by the verb.

  • My apologies for the vague question as I thought it would be best to keep it as concise as possible. Regarding your final point, I'm wondering what contextual differences would warrant the use of sentence 1/ over 2/ or 3/ if 1/ is a coding of a state that is not real and 2/ emphasises a realisable possibility. In terms of practicality, wouldn't 2/ and 3/ be more effective? Or have I perhaps misunderstood what you meant? – Armaan Kapila Nov 13 '18 at 16:38
  • @ArmaanKapila I was neither irritated by that nor would I want tocause any feeling of guilt If you'd have agreed with me, then fine and if not it's fine also. As far as context goes, the n°1 appears to me to correspond exactly: "pas ici" in général, therefore at the time of talking the state "pouvoir" is not realised but hypothetical, therefore subjunctive (absolute possibility); preferable to n°2 for what I think will be the obvious reason; not preferable to n°3 though but only different from n°3; (continued) – LPH Nov 13 '18 at 17:19
  • @ArmaanKapila n° 2 can be seen only as an approximate identification to the context; there is at stake no question of practicality in communication of one particular thing: as the association of a form to a given context has been learnt the form can be almost anything provided one keeps to the same one, the codage works succefully in the human brain. The matter at stake is rather things such as faithfull representation of the relations by the language and it's practicallity in representing distinctions, as the more subtle the differences that can be made the more precise it becomes. – LPH Nov 13 '18 at 17:36

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