"Ce sont les seuls hommes qui aient été bons pour nous."

Translation:These are the only men that have been nice to us.

January 2, 2013

94 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

I would say that in English, to translate 'qui' here as 'who' is correct. 'That' is also right, but it doesn't make 'who' wrong.

January 2, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/lolaphilologist

I agree with you completely, if not even more emphatically. It's far better to use "who" than "that" while referring to people, but "that" is common usage...

April 11, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/SabineBH

The french sentence feels natural, but the english one feels off, whether you use "who" or "that". I translated it into "they are the only men to have been nice to us" to avoid the use of "that", but DL rejected it.

July 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

Yes, the English does seem a little awkward, but still, there's nothing wrong with 'These are the only men who have been good to us'. It's always safer to stick as much to literal translation as possible with DL.

July 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/MetroWestJP

In informal spoken American English, we'd probably phrase it, "These're the only men who've been nice to us."

January 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/RowenaJane

Depends where you live. I would never say 'that' when referring to a person.

August 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidAlbro

I would say it's more than universal than where you live. "Who" always and only refers to people or personified objects, and "that" should only refers to places and things.

January 28, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/rhhpk

No, it's universal to use "that" for people in this way. It's more common than "who", although "who" is also correct.

I don't know of a variety of English that doesn't use "that" for people - maybe Indian English, but certainly not British or American English.

February 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/RowenaJane

It does depend in the UK where you live or maybe how you were brought up. I never heard anyone say 'that' referring to a person when I was young, it would be considered terrible English. 'That' specifically refers to objects. It may be the American influence on English in England.

February 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/rhhpk

No, it's nothing to do with the Americans, or even where you live in Britain. You'll find it in Shakespeare

("a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more." - Macbeth)

and you will have heard it many times without noticing it. (I'm a native British English speaker and I used to think the same as you before I studied English.)

In some sentences, "who" sounds better:

She's the woman who works there

In others, "that" sounds better:

He's the plumber that we always use

("whom" would be grammatically correct, but it's almost completely fallen out of usage and would sound archaic here, whereas "who" would sound a bit strange/awkward).

It's standard British English to use both forms. See this from the British Council: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/pronouns/relative-pronouns

Sorry, this should be about French more than about English, but I posted this really for non-native speakers of English

February 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/chicagoMatt

I'm American and actually I agree with the claim above (it depends on location and tone). I had a university professor (at a top 10 American university) who would mark "that" as incorrect in these cases. "That" can be used, in the same way that "yall" can be used - but it's considered unclear writing to some people.

I know just enough about linguistics to find it all silly, but beware that some consider it indicative of bad grammar, whatever that means.

September 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidAlbro

I concede. How untidy, though.

February 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/rhhpk

: )

If only languages were tidy! It would make learning them a lot easier : )

February 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ioaemcl

In answer to Robin, "whom" is not archaic at all (although most people don't know how to use it) but it certainly would NOT be grammatically correct in this sentence.

February 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Marie282520

Ooops, did not mean to thumb down or up but just to say WHO is more common and natural for me and I hear it more. I would not necessarily feel someone hit the wrong note if they used that, but I would feel they were talking more casually, informally or maybe even a little dismissively. Some choices of communication are unconscious, though. Unconscious changes usually take place where the situation signals that more propriety and respect or expected, such as meeting the parents of a serious partner. But it all depends. In a formal situation where everyone is afraid to say the truth, a casualness can be heard louder if it rings true. Context, intent, and what is being suppressed and needs airing are all aspects of speech we unconsciously ( usually ) just adapt to.
"Universal" is too strong a word in my opinion. Indian English speakers are not the only ones tho who still adhere to grammar. I found the Indian people tho mostly stick to courtesy on deep levels.

June 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarianneSt4

I used "who" and was marked correct. 27/3 2015

March 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

Thanks for the input. It's nice to be vindicated after two years :)

May 30, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Dahlerup177

Yeah, I think the main thing here is the difference between qui and que, "les seuls hommes" is the subject and therefore you use "qui"

August 9, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/EricMuelle1

One of my French professors said she didn't care about most grammatical mistakes like not using "whom", but she hated when people used "that" to refer to a person or people. I would say "that" is wrong and "who" is right because it's referring to a person, but it's not uncommon to hear people use "that" in this situation in conversation.

June 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Josh113410

To say "the men that..." rather than "the men who..." is incorrect. Yes, people will say "the men that...", but it sounds careless or uneducated.

January 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/antlane

We often use that instead of who or which, especially in an informal style. (Michael Swan)

I like people that smile a lot.

Do You remember the people that we met in Italy?

You can also use that when talking about a person. That is used about both people and things:

There's the man that I saw yesterday.

https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/that

January 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Josh113410

Point taken; I wasn't aware that using "that" to refer to people had such a long history. I think it sounds much better to use "who" when the relative pronoun refers to a subject, as in "people who smile a lot". When it refers to an object though, as in "people that we met in Italy", "that" does sound better, now that I think of it. Maybe because using "who" instead of "whom" here is still relatively new?

The debate on this always makes me think of a little commentary David Foster Wallace wrote on it: https://books.google.com/books?id=HjnhLBWINqgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=david+foster+wallace+nascar+t-shirt+that+usage&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEyPSp-P3fAhX1HjQIHQ1OCTQQ6AEIVjAH#v=onepage&q=NASCAR%20paraphernalia&f=false

January 21, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/PeaceJoyPancakes

It just shows that even good writers can succumb to the common lunacy.

I'm kidding. People have preferences, and that's fine. But it's funny, because David Foster Wallace looks (or looked) like a guy who could easily love NASCAR.

January 21, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Josh113410

Lol, true! And he would have been the first to admit it too. ;)

January 21, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/PeaceJoyPancakes

It's neither careless nor uneducated, and Antlane's examples are on point. The supposed prohibition against using "that" instead of "who" or "whom" as a relative pronoun referring to people is simply a popular canard, contradicted by the usage notes or examples in most dictionaries. According to Merriam-Webster, "The notion that that should not be used to refer to persons is without foundation; such use is entirely standard."

January 21, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/kpelle27

Why is this in the subjunctive?

July 12, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/awefulwaffle

According to the webpage below, the subjunctive is often used when the principal clause contains terms such as:

  • le seul, l'unique, le premier, le dernier

The original French (webpage):

"De même, le subjonctif est fréquent quand la principale contient les termes tels que : le seul, l'unique, le premier, le dernier.

  • C'est le seul ami que je connaisse.

http://grammaire.reverso.net/1_1_20_Le_subjonctif.shtml

[Edited to remove "lui" in "je lui connaisse"]

December 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/S.Aumond

Sort of. A perfect way to know if the verb is subjunctive is to look for a "que" before the noun doing the action, or "qui" if it's a person. As with any French rule, there are some exceptions, but not many.

Also, as a side note, I think you meant "c'est le seul ami que je connaisse." "Lui" means "him" or is used as a replacement for "à lui" or "à elle": " je lui ai téléphoné(e)" = "j'ai téléphoné à lui/elle"

May 30, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/awefulwaffle

Merci! I took the example from the webpage, and did not notice the error.

May 30, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Joanne126126

"Qui functions as a pronoun and tranlates as "who". "Que" tranlates as "that" and connects a clause to a sentence, so there is always a noun or pronoun after "que". This is how I learned it, and it makes it very easy

March 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ion1122

The word "qui" does not always translate to "who", because it does not always refer to a person. For example:

C'est un livre qui contient beaucoup de suspense.

The important thing about "qui" is that it acts as the subject of its clause.

It can be translated "who" if it refers to a person, and "that" when it refers to a thing. (Some people will also allow "that" when it refers to a person.)

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/kpelle27

Thanks!

December 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Marie282520

Merci pour la question.

June 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DottieDrac

Merci pour l'explication!

August 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/shepla
  • 1167

However, the same webpage states 'On met toujours au subjonctif une proposition sujet introduite par que.' and the example given uses 'que' followed by a subject and then the verb conjugated in the subjunctive. In this case, it is 'qui' not 'que' and the 'qui' is the subject of avoir. All the conjugation tables that I have seen for the subjunctive go (using avoir): que j'aie, que tu aies, qu'il ait, and so on. In fact, I think this answer is wrong, and should be conjugated in the indicative, and I will report it as such. If they wanted us to use the subjunctive, the starting phrase would be something like 'Ce sont les seuls hommes que j'aie vus d'avoir été bons pour nous.' = These are the only men that I have seen to be good for us.

January 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/John787925

Does "être bon pour qqn" mean "be nice to someone" or "be good to someone"? Because I'd say they carry quite different implications in English.

May 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/jolynnedougherty

And to add to the above question - Being good to someone v. being good for someone has different implications in English. Etre Bon pour quelqu'un means what exactly?

July 9, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

I'm not sure if that distinction can be translated into French. However, for what it's worth, in the infinitive form Google Translate gives 'être' for 'good for us' and 'd'être' for 'to us'. The problem is that the use of prepositions differs so much from one language to another.

July 9, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/BrianGray3

J'ai la même question! Moi, j'ai traduit "bons pour nous" par "good for us"; j'aurais pensé que "good/nice to us" se traduirait mieux par "gentils avec nous" - la traduction donnée par le dico Collins.

Est-ce que la phrase "Ils ont été bons pour nous" peut être synonyme avec "Ils ont été gentils avec nous"?? Chers Francophones, au secours svp!!

July 31, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabeth261736

Both good and nice are accepted.

August 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/mbryk

Why not "who had been nice to us"?

July 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/hannrkelley

I've reported this too... weird!

September 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/zzyss

I think it's expecting "who have been..."

September 30, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

It is right.

July 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/blrsar

Why not, "These are the only men who had been good for us."

September 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/bCanaday

Bonne question! 'Have' vs 'had', what's the rule?

November 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

Is it subjunctive? I thought it was imperfect.

July 12, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AnnaTall

Would ' Ce sont le seuls homes qui etaient bons pour nous' be at all correct en francais, s'il vous plait?

October 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Preste

Yes it is corret but it refers to a finished past action. The Duolingo sentence refers to an action started in the past (and likely still going on) and with consequences still at play.

February 21, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

'le' should be 'les' and 'homes' should be 'hommes'. The latter was probably a typo though. Autrement, je pense que c'est correct.

October 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Sally410

Pour nous...... seems a bit changeable. Just two or three sentences back 'pour nous' was 'for us'. That was discussed, by others. Now, we are back with 'to us'. This is a patently the learner's phenomemon known as 'a wilful phrase'! Both!

December 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

Welcome to the infinitely variable world of prepositions Sally. They are sometimes the hardest words to translate from one language to another because they are used so differently in different languages.

December 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/greatlanguages

Why isn't there an "s" after ete (with accents)? Doesn't it refer to les hommes?

September 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/nwb81

Because the été comes after (a conjugated form of) avoir, not after être.

November 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/jeff.tsuku

Why is this 'ce sont'? Isn't hommes plural?

May 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

Although strictly 'ce' is singular, 'sont' on the other hand is plural. So it seems to be one of those linguistic quirks. In any case, 'ce sont' means 'they are.'

May 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/tony753048

Agree with the majority, who is preferable

October 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Dain

why subjoncif?

July 20, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/RowenaJane

Pour nous means for us not to us doesnt it?

August 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

Yes, but we need to remember that prepositions are used differently in different languages. For example, in English we say 'He threw a stone at me' whereas in Afrikaans (South African Dutch) it is 'Hy het my met 'n klip gegooi', which translates literally as 'He threw me with a stone'. I'm sorry to use an example from a language with which you're probably not familiar, but I always think that it is a striking example of the different nuances of prepositions in different languages and cultures. In any case Jane, 'Good to us' or 'Nice to us' works well here.

August 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/S.Aumond

While it's true that different languages use different prepositions, I have never in my entire life heard "pour nous" mean "to us" and I was raised in a bilingual household. I genuinely believe that Duolingo is wrong with this one as it's using one word to mean another.

August 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

Thanks monsieur. I stand corrected. Have you perhaps reported this to Duolingo?

August 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/S.Aumond

Yeah, I reported it as soon as they marked me "wrong" for it. But they apparently haven't done anything about it. It's a pity, really. I hope people read the comments to get the right answer...

August 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

Hmmm, okay. How would you change the sentence to mean 'nice to us'?

August 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Laura624594

How can I report this too? I would never translate this sentence as "nice to us", et je suis francophone...

August 10, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Linda4406

I also have never heard "pour nous" used like that and had my doubts about it. But reporting, especially as you get down to the end of the course, is not yielding much. Have had no responses in an age. And here it is 3 years later.

January 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/PeaceJoyPancakes

The given translation isn't completely out of the question, depending on context (and I've found at least one similar example on Reverso Context), nor is "good to us", which I like better.

However, "gentil avec nous" is apparently a clear and common way to say "nice to us".

January 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/yellow_card

Since "pour nous" can also mean "in our opinion", shouldn't this solution be accepted to?

September 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Max771692

Pronunciation question: should "aient" before ete be pronounced with just the t or with an nt sound?

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/S.Aumond

Neither, it's pronounced exactly the same way as "ai" is.

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Max771692

Are you sure? In this recording and all others it is pronounced ait with the t before ete

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/S.Aumond

I am. I and other francophones from various parts of the world on here have never heard that before and it seems to be an automatic with the DuoLingo program. It's even in French pronunciation rules that a "t" is not pronounced when it is at the end of the word, except, of course, for certain exceptions.

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Max771692

Hmm. A quick google suggests that 3rd person -t verbs ending with a vowel should be pronounced before a vowel. http://takelessons.com/blog/french-pronunciation-letter-t-z04

Third person verbs, singular or plural, ending in T link with the following word starting with a vowel.

<pre>Il chantait une chanson </pre>

Then I went here http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-liaisons.htm and went to optional liasions and it said keeping the t was "very high register." Could you give a source please?

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/S.Aumond

GlenM: I don't know which part of Quebec you are/were in, but we never pronounce the "nt," at the end of third person plural verbs, not even mumbled; "aient" pronounced exactly as "ai" is. For other words (like "appartement"), it definitely is, but not in this case.

Your comment about "Canadians", I don't know if you're speaking of Quebecers or non-Quebecer-French-speakers, but here, I've rarely, if ever, heard anyone NOT pronounce the "s" after "leurs" when it precedes a vowel. But if you are/were in the "régions", then it's possible.

Also, about the "r" thing: I've never heard a distinction between how we pronounce it and how Europeans do, but maybe I'm biased, haha!

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

I'm no expert, but I was quite surprised to read M. Aumond's assertion, especially in talking about francophones in other parts of the world. I can state quite definitively that in Québec, 'aient' would be pronounced with the 'nt' kind of mumbled before a vowel. However, I've noticed that Canadians tend to ignore some liaisons. For example 'leurs' before a vowel would usually be pronounced 'leur' in my experience.

Finally, I stress that I am not an expert, nor am I trying to contradict M. Aumond. Rather, I am simply stating what has been my experience in the only country where I ever hear French as a rule, namely, Canada. I know that Canadian French pronunciation is rather old-fashioned in many ways, for example in the hard rolling of 'r' rather than the Continental gargling of the same letter.

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/S.Aumond

My main source would be speaking, listening, and understanding the intricacies of this language. I checked for sources to be sure and those I have found agree with your second one, except yours actually support my claim even more than they do: according to that very site, "very high register" implies it's only pronounced in extremely formal occasions. Even then, it's rarely used. Your first source was way too absolute to work with the French language, vaguely stating it's always spoken that way, despite what all other sources say and what knowledgeable Francophones know (and "Il chantait une chanson" sounds weird when pronouncing the "t").

That said, I initially intended to tell you that you COULD pronounce the "t" alone if your REALLY wanted to, but definitely never the "nt." I chose not to to simplify things, but I'm glad you did some research, I just think that's a bit advanced for someone trying to learn by still using DuoLingo.

If you do decide to pronounce the "t" in these liaison-types of situations in regular speech or even in most formal situations, I'm sorry to say, but you (and anyone else who pronounces it) will sound foolish to native speakers, as it sounds very strange to us.

I hope this helped you. Please note that I'm here to help people learning French, so none of this is me trying to be "right," but is simply to aid people in speaking the language and sounding good when in a french-speaking territory.

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

M. Aumond, I suppose the environment in which I hear Canadian (Québecois) French is unusual. I am a member of a Religious Order based in Québec, and the religious do tend to have a fairly formal way of talking. So, fair enough, my experience is not typical.

Regarding the 'r' I can always distinguish Canadians by the characteristic rolling. Perhaps in the cities it's different.

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/S.Aumond

GlenM, Yeah, our "r"s can be more or less rolled as well as harder, I guess it depends on who's speaking and where you are. There's also many people in the outlying regions (and some in the city) who roll their "r"s in the way most other languages (Russian, Spanish, Italian, etc.) do, which is always interesting!

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Max771692

I couldn't reply to your comment further below so I'm replying here. I'm not sure how to interpret the remark "very high register." I'll give an example. Throughout most of London, people speak with an accent which drops a lot of t's. Of course you've heard of "innit?" I would always say "isn't it." This isn't a matter of formality, but of just how I speak the language. This might be a classist comment but I suppose "isn't it" would be considered high register in London, but not at all formal.

I must admit (and I'm treading lightly so as not to sound classist) I have a 100% Australian accent which other Australians might call very high register.

So I guess my ultimate question is: is alliding -t with vowels something like that? The equivalent of an upper class accent? Btw I can see that -nt is largely never pronounced except for weird parts of Quebec. Francophones around me (now in the US) say Quebec French is just entirely weird.

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

:) I used to do French on Livemocha where you could record yourself and submit it for correction to your peers. Almost without fail people would tell me how ugly my accent is, but one Lebanese gentleman said I had an American accent.

In any case, thanks Max and M. Aumond for an interesting and enlightening discussion. (To which a Québecois might well reply 'bienvenue')

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/S.Aumond

I'm honestly not sure. I'm going by what the website says, and by that, I mean it's potentially a very class-based language issue and/or a litterary/scholarly way of speaking, but even then, I've spoken with absolute masters of this language and no one ever speaks like that. An example of a litterary French (unofficial) rule is the use of the passé simple: it is very rarely (but not never) used in speech, but can be fairly common in somewhat advanced litterature (like, not children's books, haha).

No offence to them, but Franco-Americans can't really say much about how we speak it, especially not Cajuns or Acadians, who have a very interesting way of speaking (I kind of like it, to be honest)...But anyway, as a little bit of a linguistic history lesson: Québec French is much closer to the very old French than continental French; after the French Revolution, the language was given an overhaul, but the Francophone residents of New France/Québec didn't get the metaphorical memo, thus we kept it as it was.

September 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/greatlanguages

Since men precedes the verb clause, why is there not an "s" after ete?

December 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM

It's the verb 'to be'

December 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/OlympiasEpiriot

Who. Use who and not that as these are people.

January 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/rhhpk

"that" or "who" are correct for people, "which" or "that" for things. You may think "that" sounds wrong used for people, but we say it all the time - probably more than "who" in fact. Any decent English grammar book/website will give you both alternatives. (I'm an English teacher).

January 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/CSA_GW

May it be: "...qui aient ete bons pour nous" = "who were good (tasty) for us (to eat)"?

Although none of us would eat the "hommes", the part " bons pour nous" of this statement makes me think that way.

March 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/danabanov

Why not: "They are the only men who had been good to us?"

January 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/danabanov

'WHO' is preferable to 'THAT' when talking about people: "These are the only men WHO have been good to us".

January 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Alejandro.Steve

"These are the sole men that have been good to us"

I feel like this is right, shouldn't it?

February 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/PeaceJoyPancakes

Most often, "sole" modifies a singular noun, not a plural.

February 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/john-keith

Sorry but IMO 'good' does not equal 'nice' Dangerously misleading language....!

February 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ion1122

True, English "good" does not equal English "nice". But what DL is saying here is that French "bon" (sometimes) equals English "nice".

(Whether that is in fact true, I do not know.)

February 14, 2019
Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.