GIVE ANSWERS - Français

100% GOOD (8 votes)AnsweredLanguage Question
J'ai eu or j'avais?

I'm really confused on how to say I had in French. I thought j'ai eu, meant I have had. So that left me with the only option j'avais. Now I'm confused. Could someone explain me the difference between thesetwo?

GIVE ANSWERS
  • 8 answers
Daniel67fr profile picture Daniel67frDecember 2015
"J'ai eu" is for something that happened only once, or something suddenly
While "J'avais" is something that last, or an habit that is finished
  •  November 2017
    It is complicated indeed. French speakers have the same problem in the other way!

    It's all about the duration : you can imagine the past time as a long line. On this line, sometimes events happen ; or you do some actions ; you hear something ; etc.

    On the line :

    - let's say there is always a "general context" :
    you were someone / you had some occupation / you went around with someone... somewhere in the past (for instance : two years ago and for some period) : that was the general context of your life then -> IMPARFAIT (j'avais)

    - but there also appear some specific and momentary events on the line. Some which will be marked as crosses or so... For instance : you won a contest (at a specific date) ; you succeedeed in your exams (a specific year) ; you had an accident ; you met someone (specific time and place...) -> PASSÉ COMPOSÉ (j'ai eu)


    * * En 2013, je n'avais encore que deux enfants.
    Mon troisième enfant est né en 2014.
    J'ai trois enfants.

    ** En 2012, j'étais étudiante. J'ai obtenu mon diplôme au mois de juin 2012.

    Here you can make the comparison present perfect / passé composé but be careful.. because it's rare!!
    I mean that you can say :
    "J'ai étudié l'histoire." (this applies that this experience belongs to the being you are right now... quite like present perfect so)

    But this sentence is also correct :
    "J'étudiais l'histoire [cette année-là]"... (you just talk about you past occupation... as a past one)

    Attention : all of this is the same when you talk about a very close past. It should be no problem if you keep in mind the same image of a regular line where specific events appear...

    -> Hier, j'étais au restaurant quand tu m'as téléphoné.
    Ce matin, j'étais encore au lit quand le facteur a sonné.

    It's never about the length between the event and now ; always about the nature of the activity ---or sometimes about what we want to tell about it (do I want to say that I used to study something some years ago ; or that I have studied something and then I know things about it now...)---.

    Il y a une heure, j'étais au travail.
    Il y a une heure, je me suis endormi au travail.

    -> "Il y a une heure" doesn't matter itself.


    **** I hope this will help!! ****


Pat747 profile picture Pat747March 2018

J'ai eu --> action qui a eu lieu une fois, ou action brève.

J'avais --> action (ou situation) qui a duré dans le temps ou était habituelle, qui est désormais terminée.

Exemple : J'avais 20 ans quand j'ai eu ma première voiture.

Exemple : J'ai eu un accident de voiture quand j'avais mon appartement à Paris.

dariia profile picture dariiaNovember 2017

(Sorry I posted that as a comment by mistake, and my account was logged out while I was writing it... but it still was sent somehow... and I cannot delete it now :-/ !)

 

It is complicated indeed. French speakers have the same problem in the other way!

 

It's all about the duration : you can imagine the past time as a long line. On this line, sometimes events happen ; or you do some actions ; you hear something ; etc.

 

On the line :

- let's say there is always a "general context" : you were someone / you had some occupation / you went around with someone... somewhere in the past (for instance : two years ago and for some period) : that was the general context of your life then -> IMPARFAIT (j'avais)

- but there also appear some specific and momentary events on the line. Some which will be marked as crosses or so... For instance : you won a contest (at a specific date) ; you succeedeed in your exams (a specific year) ; you had an accident ; you met someone (specific time and place...) -> PASSÉ COMPOSÉ (j'ai eu)

 

* * En 2013, je n'avais encore que deux enfants. J'ai eu mon troisième enfant en 2014. (Mon troisième enfant est né en 2014.) J'ai trois enfants.

** En 2012, j'étais étudiante. J'ai obtenu mon diplôme au mois de juin 2012.

 

Here you can make the comparison present perfect / passé composé but be careful.. because it's rare!! I mean that you can say :

"J'ai étudié l'histoire." (this applies that this experience belongs to the being you are right now... quite like present perfect so)

But this sentence is also correct : "J'étudiais l'histoire [cette année-là]"... (you just talk about you past occupation... as a past one)

 

Attention : all of this is the same when you talk about a very close past. It should be no problem if you keep in mind the same image of a regular line where specific events appear...

-> Hier, j'étais au restaurant quand tu m'as téléphoné.

Ce matin, j'étais encore au lit quand le facteur a sonné.

 

It's never about the length between the event and now ; always about the nature of the activity ---or sometimes about what we want to tell about it (do I want to say that I used to study something some years ago ; or that I have studied something and then I know things about it now...)---.

Il y a une heure, j'étais au travail.

Il y a une heure, je me suis endormi au travail.

-> "Il y a une heure" doesn't matter itself.

 

**** I hope this will help!! ****

rachel_lar profile picture rachel_larAugust 2017

j'ai enfin eu une bonne note à mon examen hier. j'avais souvent de bonnes notes dans le passé. Mais cette année c'est difficile.

Azizaelouadghiri profile picture AzizaelouadghiriJuly 2019
j'ai eu c'est le verbe avoir au passé composé et j'avais aussi le verbe avoir a l'imparfait
 March 2018
J'ai eu : passé composé du verbe avoir. (Une action au passé, précise et achevée :J'ai eu mon permis de conduire )
J'avais: imparfait du verbe avoir.(une action en progression dans le passé :J'avais faim ).
Un exemple clair serait:
" J'avais encore la maison en France quand j'ai eu ma fille ".
Bonne chance !