Dès qu’il viendra, je t’appelle.
day keel vee-yaa-DRAH, zhuh taa-PELL. Click below to hear this pronounced.
As soon as he comes, I’ll call you.
Expressions of time are among the trickiest aspects of a language to learn. And the appropriate sequence of tenses that attend them only make matters worse, because the logic behind one language is not necessarily the same as the logic between a second language.
That’s the case here. Dès has so many meanings. In this sentence, with que, it means as soon as. In English, we treat the event we are anticipating as if it were already happening: as soon as he comes. We use the present tense of the verb.
But since we know that he has not come yet, we use the future tense for the verb that expresses the action that follows upon the anticipated one: I’ll call you.
The French is just the opposite! Dès que requires that the verb that comes next be in the future tense, underlining the not-yet-happened part of the sentence. The verb in the second clause could be in the future also: je t’appellerai. But in everyday French, you’re more likely to hear it in the present tense: je t’appelle, thus underlining the immediacy of the action you plan to take.
I don’t think you can draw any deep cultural significance (nope, not even a shallow one) from this difference, but the grammatical contrast is there. Enjoy!
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