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Linguaholic

subjunctive in the past


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Hello!

Suppose somebody had to prepare a ransom by noon. Now it's 3 pm but money is still not there.

In English (if I am not mistaken at least with this one) the raketeer could say:

You should have had it ready by noon!

What would be the French equivalent of this? I have three options in mind, but don't know which one if any is correct:

Il fallait que tu l'eusses préparé vers midi!

ou

Il fallait que tu l'ais préparé vers midi!

ou bien

Il fallait que tu le préparasses vers midi!

Somehow I don't feel comfortable about any of these... If none of them are correct, then what would be the right way to say it?

 

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As a French native I would say: "Ça aurait dû être prêt vers midi" or "Tu aurais dû l'avoir à midi". The French verb "préparer" means something like "to make ready" so it seems awkward to use it in the case of something which should _be_ ready (prêt). My first sentence translates approximately to "It should have been ready at noon", the second one as "You should have had it at noon" (I don't think you can directly translate "by noon", but that's another question :p )

 

In the OP's propositions, the first and third ones use tenses that are really not used in French anymore, even in writing. I learned these tenses at school but I'm not sure how they're called now ;)

The second proposition is the one that feels the most natural to me but it should be "que tu l'aiEs" and I would transform it to "Il fallait que tu l'aies vers midi" (meaning "you should have had it around noon", and removing the "préparé" which doesn't feel right in this context).

Another possibility would be "Tu aurais dû l'avoir préparé avant midi !" In this case "avoir préparé" indicates that you have made it ready in the past so now it's ready.

Hope I'm making sense and keep up the good work! :)

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