You raise a good point.
This has been discussed in other threads.
Advanced students say that enfant is both masculine and feminine.
Dictionary.com labels enfant as masculine pure and simple.
Larousse which is more authoritative classifies enfant as both masculine and feminine.
French seems to prefer assigning masculine to situations where gender is not clear. Especially Duo. As a consequence I use masculine when it's not clear just to play it safe.
northernguy, I apologize if at any point you took offense to what I posted. I can't control what others do, but I can be accountable for myself. My off-handed remark was not meant to offend you.
Please keep doing what you're doing. There are a handful of commenters whose input is fairly valuable to all of us, and I consider you part of that group.
(I also apologize for not responding sooner. I don't think my notifications are set up for me to effectively have a discussion.)
In many ways, English does as well. Not with the genders of nouns, but in the use of pronouns. If I see "he" referring to an indeterminate subject, I assume that person could be male or female. If I see she, I only think female. Some writers like to use the feminine pronoun, or interchange the two during a story. I find it distracting, but it has absolutely nothing to do with my feelings about women.
You don't know if the child (enfant) is a boy or a girl, so you use the masculine form as default. Same in the plural form: Les enfants (the children), never Las enfants. It's just how it is. But for example, in portuguese l'enfant is 'a criança'. Criança is a feminine word hence the 'a' before it (instead of 'o'), but you could be referring to a boy.
You would use light as a synonym for nimble, springy, adept, eyecatching ..whatever... when you have already established your intent.
The nimble athletes were impressive. Such a light performance is rarely seen.
Light is used to describe the athletes application of their nimbleness, not their actual weight. It seems effortless and weightless because they are nimble. You can replace nimble with light because you have established a context where it works, not because they mean the same thing.
As Sitesurf points out, there are other words, in French, that explicitly mean nimble, springy, etc that better express their intent.
Duo is suggesting that léger can be used in some contexts to mean something other than just light in weight. But it is also saying that without context, it just means light.
Most dictionaries give multiple uses for léger but nimble isn't one of them. Larousse does give springy as a primary definition. I guess you can use léger with that meaning about as often as you use springy in ordinary English conversation.
@ "Sitesurf" Could you please clear this up for me? Two sentences before this one, was: "Elle est légère." I answered with "She is thoughtless" because that was one of the drop-down choices. I got it right. So now, "L'enfant est léger. " and I answered with "The child is thoughtless." This time it was marked wrong! Thank you, in advance, for answering my question.
In so short sentences, the exact meaning of "léger/légère" is difficult to identify.
"Elle est légère" can be a female human or a feminine animal or thing. Therefore, in theory, all possible translations given by a dictionary can work, including figurative ones, like "thoughtless", although it would need a robust context.
For instance, "une argumentation légère" would be the contrary to "a solid/sound argument" (= futile, maybe).
"L'enfant est léger" is easier to understand and I think that the prime meaning of "not heavy" should prevail = light/lightweight.
northernguy, yes mate. Has Duo made a mistake in suggesting Nimble as a translation of Legér and if not why? Looking at the posts here, dictionaries and asking native speakers none seemed to give Nimble as a translation for Legér. You usually give extensive responses in your explanations so please may I lean on you to do so once more here to show that if indeed Legér can be translated to Nimble would you give an example. I think that I'm speaking somewhat for fiercebadrabbit also on these points. Thank you in advance.
Not in standard English it doesn't. "Lightweight" refers to someone who is not up to the job, a little flaky, someone of limited intelligence, ability, importance, significance, etc. It might be used for clothing or for a type of division in a particular sport. If a child does not weigh very much he is "not heavy", "light", etc. but never lightweight.
Hi Nunsyafiah. Generally if you're translating from French to English and make a typo you'll be marked correct with a warning. If you are translating English to French or typing what you hear in French then typos are not tolerated. People from all over the world for whom English is a foreign language are given tolerance by Duo in written English but as we are learning French here then the French we produce as a solution must be correct. Your accents typos, or complete non-use of ACCENTS in written French will however (for reasons best known to Duo) be tolerated with a warning. If you wrote, even as a typo, "La Enfant" you will have broken such a basic rule that it wouldn't even be allowed in task one of the first basic lesson. Typos in French written are just not tolerated. Bon chance et cordial. :)
« Léger » can mean "gentle," just not in the sense people can be gentle. It's "moderate in action, effect, or degree; not harsh or severe" like "a gentle breeze" or "a gentle persuasion" (very much in keeping with it's meaning of "light"). When talking about gentle people (i.e. "mild in temperament or behavior; kind or tender") the French word would be « gentil(le) » or « doux/douce ».
Well, Benny, I'll stick my neck out here and ask to be corrected but I say that Duo is wrong. It can be that "Mild" may be a translation but my Collins Robert dictionary (which is the one our trustworthy Sitesurf uses) gives no reference of "Gentle" to the French "Leger". Please don't trust the drop-down hints because they are often utterly unreliable and for the life of me I just do not know why, nor their pertinent purpose. If you lost a heart through this, please accept lingots from me.