"Combien de cheveux blancs ?"

Translation:How much white hair?

January 4, 2013

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I have so much trouble distinguishing horses and hairs :(

I'll learn, eventually...

edit: I eventually learned this when I finished the tree! Here's an easy way to remember the difference. -Eux sounds like "uh" (like the "i" in bird) while -aux sounds like "oh" (like the o in bold).


Me too. I once asked a hairdresser in Paris to cut my horses.


Thanks for this one!


me too. i wrote 'how many white horses?'


I read somewhere that chevaux sounds like chev-oh and cheveux sounds like chev-er. I find that helps.


They sound the same to me. There's definitely no R sound.


If you know any scandinavian languange, it's like chev-å and chev-ö/ø. (The R in their pronounciation guide is silent, but it needs to be there because english pronounciation is wierd.)


Nearly wrote that too


When I'm stuck it always helps me to put the two words side-by-side on Google Translate and listen to the playback. This helps train differentiation which is a lot faster:


After I did that I was able to create a mnemonic to remember which meant what:

Les chevAux (horses) sounds like chev-oh. "The Chef's OLD horse can only carry 2 sacks of oatmeal at a time"

Les ChevEux (hair) sounds like chev-uh. "Hair SHAVER (chev-uh)"


It's even more trouble when the word for hair hasn't been introduced to you yet. I have gone through the irregular plurals lesson, but no cheveux.

  • 1022

You don't see the singular nearly as often as the plural version. Un cheveu is one strand of hair.

It seems to turn up in various expressions:
"J'ai raté mon train d'un cheveu." = I missed my train by a hair's breadth
"Avoir un cheveu sur la langue" = To have a lisp.


"Comme un cheveu sur la soupe" = "unexpectedly"


"Comme un cheval sur la soupe" = "extremely unexpectedly".


I thought I heard somewhere that "poil" was used more frequently to mean a single strand of hair. Not true?


On your head, you only have "un cheveu, des cheveux".

"un poil, des poils" can be found anywhere else.


Ah, first time I've seen this distinction. Thank you.


Avez-vous vu un barbu sans barbe,avez-vous vu un poilu sans poils?


After so many times getting this wrong, I know that it is white hairs and not white horses, but I still spell cheveux wrong every time and get it wrong....I keep spelling it cheveaux...smh


They sound similar but it's not that hard to tell the difference. Try listening to examples on these two pages.

https://forvo.com/word/cheveux/#fr https://forvo.com/word/chevaux/#fr

It's much like the difference between "cook" and "coke", which are easy to distinguish.


"blancs" is pronounced "blonds" here


Yes I wrote blonds too.


I fell for that, too.


In England grey hair is considered to be a different colour from white hair.


In French, the mix of black and white hair is "il a les cheveux poivre et sel" (used as a block, as an adjective)


We use that expression as well "salt and pepper."


Why is it not combien des?


Expressions of quantity with preposition "de" drop the article:

  • moins de cheveux, plus de cheveux, autant de cheveux, trop de cheveux, combien de cheveux ?, assez de cheveux...


Um, blanc is not gray. Blanc is white. Cheveux gris is grey hairs.


I made the alternatives exercise and Duo said "white" and "gray" mean "blanc" in French. Is that true?


white = blanc and grey/gray = gris.

grey hair is just a mix of dark and white hair.


If I go to the hairdresser and I want grey hair , what should I ask so not to have white hair? I do not want poivre et sel either.

  • 1022

I believe we are facing a cultural difference here. In my culture - and I don't know to what extent this is North American, or English-speaking, or what - we make a clear distinction between "grey hair" and "white hair". But I gather that this is not the case among Francophones.

As Sitesurf has observed, what we think of as "grey hair" is just a mixture of dark and white hair. The only difference between "grey hair" and "salt and pepper hair" is the evenness of the distribution of white hair among the dark. "Salt and pepper" tends to have larger clumps of both white and dark, so that the contrast is noticeable, while "grey hair" has a more even distribution.


Hmm. Maybe it's regional. Salt and pepper is a mix of dark and white/gray hairs. But gray hair or white hair or silver hair can describe a hair color which is all turned from the original color of youth. Gray hair can be either mixed dark and light, or a full head of homogenous silver/white/gray hairs. If I find a stray one of these imposter light colored hairs, i am most likely to say "a gray hair!!" even though mine aren't gray, but sort of a gold/silver. Some people turn silver. Some turn white. Some turn blond. Some turn gray. Gray is the most common descriptive i would use to describe someone unless they had a very stand out shade of white or silver.


Yes, the effect is different,and the price too. C'est la difference entre les meches at la teinture.


hair is uncountable


So how do you count your white hair?


I struggle to hear the difference between "blond" and "blanc" and this is problem when trying to explain hair color. Any tips?


The only solution is to practice nasal sounds, so that little by little your ears catch the difference.

Maybe you can use forvo.com or even Google/translate for that.


Which is the nasal and which is not?


From a purely technical standpoint, why is "de" used instead of "des"?

I realize the robot said 'duh' and not 'day', but when constructing the sentence, why wouldn't you use the plural since the hairs are plural?


In all expressions of quantities using "de", the article is dropped:

  • combien de, beaucoup de, un peu de, moins de... cheveux


Why de and not des here, i heard it right but then asssumed it has to be blanc not blancs,,,why is this the case?


"combien de" is about a quantity, like "plus de, moins de, autant de, beaucoup de..."

In all expressions of quantity ending with preposition "de", the article is dropped.


I think this is a bit unfair as it is not purely translation, but cultural. It is unfair to ask a student to literally translate 'blanc' as grey.

EDIT: Also, where is it stated we are talking about people? I have a white dog, and I can literally ask "how many WHITE hairs do I have to vacuum off the couch today". This is a very isolated translation example. If it was "How many grey hairs does s/he have?", then insisting on the idiomatic usage of "white" for grey hair is warranted, but this is not clear. I uphold my ruling of "unfair".

  • 1022

It's not "unfair" because we are not children and because there are no bad consequences of not understanding the first time. This is an immersion-style learning platform We learn rather the same way we learned our first language, by trial and error. I'll bet there isn't a person reading this who will ever forget that the French consider grey hair to be the same as white hair. Boom! Lesson learned. It's what we're here for.


The ambiguity comes from the fact that "un cheveu, des cheveux" is a countable noun.

Grey hair is actually a mix of white hairs and dark(er) hair(s).

Since the French noun allows to isolate every piece of hair, it is fair indeed that we can use "des cheveux blancs" because it is exactly what we are talking about.


What? Have you not seen gray-haired people. I am blond and grey. Mother calls it salt and pepper but there is no black hair and my gray hair is not white. Ofcourse there can be a few white ones but a person with gray-hair also has a lot of grey in there. My grandfather got totally white hair at about 30 years of age. And some elderly I have met has really gray hair, not white.

It must be okay to talk about "Mes cheveaux gris"!? Or "Ses cheveux sont gris, pas blanc." But in general French people talk about grey hair as white! Am I wrong?


"Les cheveux gris" are a mix of white and darker hair and "les cheveux blancs" are white.


no...the ambiguity is not about splitting hairs (cough) into different colors, it is about the idiomatic usage of "white hairs" in French meaning "grey hair" in English, both referring to old-people hair, but with different words.


There is a explosive sound in this recording......


Sounded like a cough. DL take some Strepsils!


Why combien de and not combien des ?

  • 1022

This question was asked and answered twice just up the thread a bit. Check it out.


Thanks! My old cell phone didn't show all comments!


Hair and hairs are two different things! Hair = Cheveux Hairs = Poils Translation is then wrong.


Getting old......


is it some kind of an idiom or just a regular question?


Just a regular question.


tell the written difference simply by knowing chevAl is with A just as chevaux.


In this case, is 'de' pronounced normally, or more like des (pronounced 'dei')?


"de" is pronounced 'duh'


hairs is no word


The "de" of the slowed-down female voice sounds like it's corrupted.


Hairs is not right, it needs to be hair


By now I am pretty well confused about the translation of "Cheveux" to either "Hair" or "Hairs"

I was marked wrong for "How many white hair"? The correct translation shown was "How many white hairs". On this page it is "How many white hair?" In spoken English, one doesn't say "hairs on the head" , etc.

Sitesurf, you have commented on Hair Vs. Hairs in the past. I am not sure I understand your explanations. Perhaps you could explain which is correct as the English translation, Hair or Hairs, without splitting hair, if you please! By the way, how do I attach a screenshot to this post?


"Hair" is usually uncountable, so you can say "how much white hair?". Yet the answer may be "not much/quite a lot..." but not a number.

A single hair is "un cheveu" if you count them, as in this sentence, so you can say "how many white hairs?" and then the answer can be a number.


Merci beaucoup, sitesurf.

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