1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "Combien doit-il ?"

"Combien doit-il ?"

Translation:How much does he owe?

January 2, 2013

34 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vin_sanity

How much does he owe?

My guess is several chickens.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

Well, I can tell you Duo owes me a lot of owls. They keep trying to give me those ones that are crying all the time but I already have too many of those.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Azuremars

I wish I could spend lingots to decapitate an owl once in a while : \


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dxrsam

That would be utterly fabulous.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tallowman

This is one of quite a few translations I have found recently that don't make sense to a native English speaker. We need an improvement in our English translations!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/apvalenti

or better yet, "how much does he owe"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

I have how many/ how much as the definitions for combien. I have owe, duty, has to be as the definitions for devoir.

When presented with Combien doit-il even my rigid, linear mind reached the conclusion that it must be how much does he owe .

I can see someone getting it wrong but I don't see how the question doesn't make sense either in English or French.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GypsyDavey

This translation has now been changed following the above discussion. It was originally translated as "How much does he have to?" or "How much must he?" "How much does he owe?" now makes perfect sense as you observe. Well done, Duolingo!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MrHazard

An alternative translation is "How much owes he?"

Seems the native Duolingo French speaker still needs to liaise a bit with the native Duolingo English speaker before they get this one right.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

Thanks. I wondered why people seemed upset.

Some of the examples that Duo uses are rather artificial and take a little imagination to make them work. Not surprising given they are trying to make some point or other using a very limited vocabulary.

I could see how the other two translations could be made to work in English but only as a mildly challenging, direct response to a previous statement. Even then it would be pretty unusual.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TimBliss

.... except that the given answer is now . How many he owes? which is pretty bizarre


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vgXhc

I don't quite get what "How much does he have to?" is supposed to mean. Can anyone give an example with more context?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Albert_Yin

i am guessing it means how much does he have to pay


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GypsyDavey

We English speakers should not be guessing at what English sentences actually mean. For non-English speakers, that's totally confusing. I agree that both these sentences are a lot less than perfect. I don't think we would ever say "How much must he?" and we would only use "How much does he have to" with an infinitive verb as in Albert Yin's example. My question is: does this phrase sound OK in French?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwether

Moi aussi. En repond de combien a-t-il, c'est vrai?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouggyD

Is this "How much is it?" as in, how much does something cost? Agree that the english phrase does not make sense to a native english speaker...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roffak

Is there differences in pronounciations for "combien doit-il? and combien doivent-ils?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rollingstock

Yes. "Doit-il" is pronounced "dwah-til." "Doivent-ils" is pronounced "dwahv-til"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roffak

thank you , merci Rollingstock


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ins-omnia

Maybe the translation should be: How much does he owe you?... This is normal English, but i guess in french you don't have to put an object to it...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ElFFELTOWER

I wrote: "How much must he" and I got it right. Is that correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gnedge

I read this as "How many does he need?" What am I misreading?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2067

"Devoir" has the sense of a "need TO" do something (or "owe", as we have seen) but not in the sense of needing something. You might be thinking of "avoir besoin de" to convey the idea of having a need for something. "Besoin" (need) is a noun.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/derek3x

This one seems off


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kimneumann

So verbs in the end of the sentence doesn't get the "s" in he/she/it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

If you are talking about the verb doit, (which isn't at the end of the sentence), the form is:

je dois

tu dois

il/ elle doit

nous devons

vous devez

ils/ elles doivent.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kimneumann

I wrote "How much does he owes" and the right was "he owe". My mother language is portuguese so I don't know the rules of english, even thou i can translate and speak fine.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dieuwertje

After "do/does/don't/doesn't" you always use the infinitive in English :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew_DiMartino

Isn't this verb more commonly used as 'to have to'? Why is it being introduced as such?

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.