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  5. "That can be."

"That can be."

Translation:Ça se peut.

January 4, 2013


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I flipped a coin and put "Ca on peut." How do we distinguish between "se" and "on" for this translation? I don't recall any preparation in the lessons leading up to this translation, which is obviously not literal. Does everyone see this as a multiple choice?


It is an idiom, so you could not be prepared for that.


So we had no other choice than to fail this question? :(


Some didn't. Most did. Those who didn't either had the advantage of serious grammar or incredible perception. I failed it, yes on my last heart (so what?) but I know it now. I even remember the street corner where a lovely Parisian corrected me. I didn't fail, I learnt and made a friend.


I just said "c'est possible" which duo accepted as correct


Hearts...wow I remember when Dulingo had that and than uodate came. Congratulations on being apart of Dulingo that long


Ah! Bless Josh. Yyyupp, I'm still here. I progress very slowly now because from my little boat I have intermittent access to the internet. AaaRRRrrlll Be Bach! Regard, JJ.


Every road took me to something using peut être. In the end, I used likelihood (best guess) and got it but I would have preferred to have erred en Paris.


Back in the day when we still had hearts. :(


Getting the question wrong isn't always bad... It can get you to look at it and other problems in a different way.

This might have been Duo's way of reminding us that this is a different language and that English ordering and grammar don't always translate nicely to French. shrug


Dude, this is not a contest. To err is part of the proccess.


"Ça peut être" also works and is in line with other lessons so no, you didn't have to fail!


"ça peut être" is grammatically correct, but the French don't say it that way: only "peut-être" or "ça se peut".


Bonjour Sitesurf

Duo just marked me correct for answering "Ça peut être" but after reading your comment should I have been marked wrong?


Basically :( I was lucky and just guessed


I wrote "Ça peut marcher" (since I'm used to saying "Ça peut chémar" to mean this). Does that give a different meaning? Should we translate this phrase literally?


That can work and That can be have different meanings in English. Ça marche=It/this/that works, so Ça peut marcher should mean That can work.


No, we all get different exercises on the same grammatical point but we all end up here.


What exercises are these? Do you mean each 20 question test or something else?


Maybe I should wait for our Aasal to answer. But just in case this query of yours doesn't get to her soon..... There are differing versions of the exercises which make up each of the topical lessons and not every one comes up for each student. So I may get a different set of tasks from you in the same lesson. If I fail the lesson and have to re-do it, I will get tasks which | didn't get the first time through. If I return to a lesson to revise, again I'll be confronted with tasks I didn't get before. Periodically, Duo will direct me to strengthen lessons I'd previously completed and again I'll have tasks which I hadn't done in that lesson before. However, we all end up here and even if we haven't done a specific task in the lesson, we can learn about it through these threads.


I got it as a straight out translation. Twice. From French to English. (Where I translated it as "That's doable". Then from English to French where the English was given as That can be, and I translated it as the more familiar "C'est possible."


Wait what lessons? Duolingo has no lessons?!?


The lessons are the sentences you are given, in various types of exercises. Every sentence shows you grammar and vocabulary at the same time and they grouped in themed Skills or units. You can access the tips and notes written by the volunteer contributors when you click on the little light bulb when you start a lesson from your main Tree page.


I translated it literally and put "ça peut être"...and it said that was correct :O Do ppl actually say that?


More likely you would say that could be (true, easy, ignored etc.) But we are still working on variations of the present tense at this point.

However, as Sitesurf points out above, it is a French idiom comparable to a simple could be response in English.


Same here! I put "Ce peut être" ! I feel like WOW!


I'm confused here because in the immediately preceding task (*Il se cache"), "Se" was the pronoun Himself (Herself/Themselves). Does it serve a function in this phrase at all or, as both sitesurf and northernguy have said, the phrase is an idiom and therefore wont translate word-for-word to English? (Not quite the same question pattymac60 asked).


As far as I can tell, "ça/cela se peut" is the only expression were verb "pouvoir" is used in a reflexive form. So, it cannot be compared with other reflexive or pronominal verbs because it would not make any sense with verb "pouvoir".


Thank you sitesurf but I'm sorry, I dont understand your answer. Are we talking about the same word... "SE" ?


Yes, "se" is the 3rd person reflexive pronoun: tu te laves (yourself), elle/il se promène (her/himself), on se parle (to each other)...

Giving it a second thought, ça se + verb is a kind of passive, impersonal construction:

  • ça se voit = it/that can be seen

  • ça se peut = it/that can be (done)

  • ça se fait = it/that is being done


Brilliant, as always. Thank you for your patience, I've got it.


I still do not understand. I do appreciate you typing and explanation, but I still have not a clue as to what purpose "se" has in this sentence as I agree with Jackjon that, whenever I have seen it used, it meant "his/her." It just seems to be filler in this sentence, and I would have no idea as to when to use it again. I guess just memorise the phrases.


Where is the subjunctive? Is this sentence completely idiomatic? It doesn't make sense grammatically.


There is no subjunctive. In English it is the infinitive form and in French the simple present. The context of such a sentence could be one where some one has made an hypothesis, like "et s'il était trop tard ?" (what if it were too late?) - the answer could be "ça se peut"


Se is a reflexive pronoun--why is it needed


The sentence translates literally to "that can be itself." I think...


Well, literally yeah, but that's not what's important. Like "je me perds" means "I'm lost", because I am the object of my losing, just like for this phrase it is the object of its being.


There is a subjunctive in English but it is used a lot less than it is in French. For example: I wish I were a doctor. This is a classic example of the past subjubctive where instead of using 'I was' it changes to 'I were'. Similarly: if I were hungry I would eat. I am not sure whether saying 'if I was hungry I would eat' would be completely incorrect to say as I know the majority of anglophones say this. I also can't think of any present tense subjunctive. But nevertheless, the subjunctive does exist in English contrary to popular belief! :)


English subjunctive does indeed exist, but it's kind of dying.

"If I were hungry, I would eat" is correct use of the English subjunctive. "If I was hungry, I would eat" (present tense) is common enough that descriptive linguists (those who say that if it sounds right to a native speaker, then that's what's now correct) would probably say it's correct, but prescriptive linguists (those who want people to "follow the rules") would say that it's wrong.

For past tense subjunctive, it's most correct to say "If I had been hungry, I would have eaten," or "Had I been hungry..." but again "If I was hungry, I would have eaten" is very common and many people accept it as correct now.


What you describe is not subjunctive but conditional.


From what I understood, conditional (and specifically counterfactual conditional, which I intended to illustrate) is one of the places in which one uses the subjunctive. Am I wrong?


"be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread." = present subjunctive


why ça instead of ce? http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/indefinite-demonstrative-pronoun.htm even states "Ce may also be followed by devoir or pouvoir + être."


True, although rather when "ce peut être" is followed by an attribute like "ce peut être un ami ou un ennemi".

Otherwise, the reflexive form "ça se peut" just means "perhaps", "maybe", "possibly"...


merci, is ce only used as a pronoun with "être" or "devoir/pouvoir + être" and otherwise as an adjective?


"C'est possible" is accepted.!


I can't understand . It really confuses mee.. I thought the three answers were possible.....


Me too, I hope somebody can tell us why "Il se peut" and "Ce se peut" are wrong...


"il se peut" must be followed by "que" + subordinate clause in subjunctive

  • il se peut que vienne (I might come)

"ce se peut" does not work with pronoun "ce":

  • ce peut être vrai (rare) = this/it may be true

  • ça/cela se peut = that may be true


I see... I hope I'll get to understand this better as I go on... Anyway, Merci beaucoup Sitesurf .


Why "ça va" isn't accepted?


Ca va means both How are you (whith a question mark and rising tone) and I'm fine. It means "it/this/that goes", not "That can be".


I wrote, "Ça peut être." & got it right! Holy. Cow!


I was asked to write this in French without ever having seen it before... blah


Yeah, this happens often Sam_Cat. It seems to be part of Duo's method and is quite realistic if you think about it because that's how it would be learning "On the hoof" as it were in France. Here are the "Discussion threads" where we find out about new stuff's background/meanings. BTW, I noted elsewhere that the utterly reliable sitesurf mentioned this phrase equivalent to "Possibly, Maybe,Could Be" kind've expressions.


So why not qui peut être


Look at these sentences; 1. That is a good idea. 2. I love books that discuss grammar thoroughly. 3. I loved the grammar book that you gave me.

That in the first sentence is a demonstrative pronoun while it's a relative pronoun in the second and the third ones.

Qui replaces that only when it's a relative pronoun, specifically one that replaces a subject as in the 2nd sentence, not a direct object as in the 3rd sentence.

For more please have a look at these; http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/relativepronouns.htm http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/relativepronouns_2.htm


Yikes yet another grammar rule to remember. Thanks though for such a good and clear explanation.


What does "se" even mean in this sentence? I got it wrong, but I still do not see how "Ca se peut" translates as "that can be."


I don't really understand what ça ce is in this sentence because ce by itself is himself


@Oridagan and JonProphet. As Sitesurf says, this is an idiom and cannot be broken up word-for-word to make any sense. It is a phrase on its own and needs to be memorised for its own unique meaning. None of us could be prepared for it and without already knowing it, we're bound to fail first time. We English play the same sort of tricks; "Keeping Mum" doesn't mean looking after and providing for Mother, it means Not Saying Anything. How would anyone learning English have a clue of that?


How would one say "That can't be."?


ca ne peut pas etre ca ne se peut pas


there's something i always say. i was wondering if anybody knows how to say it. i constantly say "That can be ARRANGED". does anyone know how that's said?


"cela/ça peut s'arranger" (reflexive)


I think it's Qui peuvent etre disposes (with accents)


I answered "c'est possible". Couldn't guess the right translation with pronouns.


I got lucky by putting c'est possible and got it right. I'd probably use that expression over ca se peut anyway.


This is a tricky one ! I checked the translation before I answered and it is nothing like the answer given once I gave my incorrect one....I guess it is something to learn from my French speaking friends !


It accepted ça peut être for me.


Ça peut etre........


Please explain the pattern of the sentence,I cannot understand the translation of it.


Please see the post just above.


So, maybe I'm off base on my logic, I understand that this is an idiom so the result of direct translation would be strange, but is the idea behind "Ça se peut" literally "it can be itself"? Meaning that the subject which is a previous context is defined to be "true" I.e. ? Normally you I would think you say "that can be" when is answering if something is "right" or is some sort of correlation.


Yes, your thinking is correct here. I don't know how "pouvoir" has become reflexive in this idiom but you can also use it in another form, with the impersonal expression "il se peut que + subjunctive", when you come up with a hypothesis or assumption: "il se peut qu'il pleuve demain" = it may rain tomorrow.


It was so weird. I felt like "Ça se peut" was right but I don't even know why


It's idiomatic, so you just have to learn it. Grammatically speaking it is a reflexive, passive use of the verb "pouvoir" which has no equivalent in English.


So why a reflexive pronoun is needed here? Thx


Hiya Anthony. A reflexive pronoun is used in a sentence when the subject is the same as the object. We do have a similar version in English dear Sitesurf.


Please explain what the difference in 'ça' and 'ce' are


Basically, both are demonstrative pronouns and can be the subject of a sentence, yet:

  • "ce/c'" is exclusively used as the subject of the verb "être" (c'est, ce sont) (+ only very rarely with the verb "pouvoir")
  • "cela", shortened to "ça" in spoken French, can be a subject or object of any verb.


Ça peut être. What do you think about this one?


This is a good word-for-word translation, but not the way the French say this.


Should I use sois or être, does one make more sense or does it not matter?


"sois" is a conjugation for "je" or "tu" in subjunctive and imperative moods.

  • il faut que je/tu sois courageux (subjunctive) = I/you must be brave.
  • sois courageux !(imperative) = be brave!

None of these can be used in this sentence, notably because the subject is "that/ça", which can only get a 3rd person singular conjugation.

"That can be" = ça se peut (indicative present)


Could you also say like "Ça peut être" or is it a fixed idiom?


"ça peut être" misses something after "être", like an adjective or adverb.

Therefore either you say "peut-être" (adverb) or "ça se peut" (that can be).


Hello Wobfan. I'm not 100% on this. I do think that all idioms are fixed and apply to context. I suggest that some phrases without context default to common usage and this is what is done here. One could say what you propose but it would need a specific context. Please note that I am not 100% certain on this.


Why is "Ça, c'est possible" wrong?


Ça peut être . And it's marked as true


this is so dumb 2 had accents 1 did not


It is a reflexive pronoun which gives the verb a passive meaning. You can find other expressions like this one where the verb is used reflexively with a passive meaning as well:

  • ça se fait = that is being done
  • ça se dit = that is being said
  • ça se voit = that is being seen


so "se" give a reflective meaning of "ça"?

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