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In my Oxford-Hachette dictionary they use a sentence structure that I have never seen before with « avoir ». They have the following two examples and the translation that follows:

  1. « j'ai qu'il m'énerve » he's getting on my nerves, that's what's wrong
  2. « j'ai que mon ordinateur ne marche pas » because my computer doesn't work

I don't really understand how this construction works and how « j'ai que mon ordinateur ne marche pas » would differ from « parce que mon ordinateur ne marche pas ». Could someone explain this structure and give some examples of some common usages?

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  • I would translate it as: What's bothering me or What's wrong with me is that he's getting on my nerves. What's bothering me or What's wrong with me is that my computer doesn't work. And in context, that would be said in response to: Mais qu'est-ce que tu as? [uses the verb avoir] As in: What's bothering you? Or What's wrong with you?
    – Lambie
    May 11 at 0:12
  • That is an idiomatic usage. If you look further in that dictionary, you should find other examples.
    – Lambie
    May 11 at 15:33
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    @Lambie: You seem to be contradicting the reply you made to jiliagre: "It's definitely not What's the problem with you?" May 14 at 6:29
  • @HarryAudus No, I am not contradicting anything at all.
    – Lambie
    May 14 at 16:40
  • @Lambie: There's no need to get personal. If I'm confused, I ask a question. Is that odd behaviour? Here's the thing. Your first comment to Quippy was (and I quote): "I would translate it as: What's bothering me or What's wrong with me is that ...". Then your first comment to jilliagre was (and I quote): "It's definitely not What's the problem with you? Or even happening to you." These two statements seem to me to be contradictory, but you claimed that "No, what's bothering you? and What's wrong with you? are not the same thing as What's happening to you." May 18 at 12:02

2 Answers 2

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Both of these sentences are a reply to Qu'est-ce que t'as ? (i.e. What's the problem/matter with you?)

The reply could have been Il m'énerve or Mon ordinateur ne marche pas but often, the verb of the question is echoed in the reply, leading to J'ai que followed by the explanation of the issue.

Here J'ai que is not a colloquial form of Je n'ai que (no ne is dropped) as it would have been in this different dialogue :

— Qu'est-ce que tu as ? (What do you have ?)
— J'ai que dix euros. (formal speech: Je n'ai que dix euros)

If the reply of Qu'est-ce que tu as ? happens to work with the verb avoir, there is no need to use que:

— Qu'est-ce que tu as ? (What is happening to you?)
— J'ai le covid.
(I have covid-19) although it is still possible to reply J'ai que j'ai le covid.

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  • It's definitely not What's the problem with you? Or even happening to you. What's happening to you. is: Qu'est-ce qui t'arrive?
    – Lambie
    May 11 at 18:25
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    @Lambie: You seem to be contradicting the reply you made to Quippy: "What's bothering you? Or What's wrong with you?" May 14 at 6:30
  • @HarryAudus No, what's bothering you? and What's wrong with you? are not the same thing as What's happening to you. What's happening to you? Is: Qu'est-ce qui t'arrive? Please read more carefully.
    – Lambie
    May 14 at 16:36
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    @Lambie: If I look ill, you could very well say to me either "What's bothering you?" or "What's wrong with you?" May 16 at 0:16
  • @HarryAudus Yes, I already said that in my first comment under the answer. Your behavior seems a bit odd, I have to say.
    – Lambie
    May 16 at 14:47
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D'accord avec l'analyse d'une autre réponse, j'ajouterais que généralement la nature d'un complément d'objet peut varier (nom, pronom, proposition conjonctive introduite par que, infinitf etc.) et qu'avec certains verbes on a une restriction de la nature pour exprimer ce complément. Avec le verbe avoir on a généralement uniquement des noms ou des pronoms, parfois des verbes à l'infinitif ; mais dans la langue parlée familière, à une réponse comme « qu'as-tu ? », on répond parfois en donnant une proposition entière comme objet direct, qu'on introduit avec la conjonction que, comme on le ferait plus régulièrement avec d'autres verbes qui ne sont pas aussi « sélectifs » (je vois que vous êtes au courant). (LBU14, § 298,299)

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