While furniture is plural in meaning, it is singular in usage (The furniture is in the way, not: the furniture are in the way). Much like fish or sheep. There are words in french like le pantelon which translates in english as a plural, pants or trousers. Ergo, meuble should be translatable as furniture since you would not have to translate it as "piece of furniture"..
As a further note, I have not found "cabinet" listed as meaning of "meuble" in my dictionary.
But is Sitesurf not saying that in French the meaning of 'furniture' is also plural? 'Meuble' in its singular form can only mean one piece of furniture or specifically a cabinet. 'Furniture,' as we use it in English, would be translated as 'meubles' plural. "The furniture is in the way" would be "Les meubles sont (sur mon chemin?)".
When you say "the furniture is in the way" in English you're still talking about all (or an indeterminate amount) of the furniture in a general/plural sense. When you say un meuble in French you're referring to one singular piece of furniture. Maybe a desk, maybe a cabinet, maybe a side table, it's not specific but it's quite explicitly a singular piece of furniture that we don't really have a way to express in English other than by adding "piece of" to the translation.
It is not perfectly reasonable when the expected English construct is so far from natural use as this one is. You are asking the user to fabricate something (an artificial construct) from nothing (for it simply isn't used this way) when there is already a perfectly natural (albeit less literal) translation, which is more idiomatically correct.
It may seem reasonable, and if you included it within the actual instruction, it could conceivably be reasonable. But in current form, it is not.
That is not always the case. If I bought a new cabinet, I could say to someone "Do you like my new furniture?". If I wanted help moving my sofa, I might ask "Could you help me carry this furniture?". It is like "sheep"- one sheep, two sheep.
I appreciate that this can be complicated, but its frustrating having an answer in a French teaching application be marked incorrect because of overly fussy (and incorrect) interpretation of English grammar.
With respect, I honestly cannot agree. In your examples, "furniture" is being used as a category, not as a singular noun referring to a specific piece of furniture. Compare "livestock" as an English word that functions similarly. There is no such thing as "a livestock"; when you ask someone what they think of your new livestock, or to help you move "this" livestock, you are referring not to individual pieces of livestock but to an item or items that belong to that category.
You are not referring to some hypothetical singular "a livestock" even if the number of heads of livestock in that category happens to be one; livestock is a singular category, and requires a modifier such as "head of" in order to refer to a single item in that category. Neither are you referring to some hypothetical singular "a furniture" even if the number of pieces of furniture in that category happens to be one; furniture is a singular category, and requires modifiers such as "piece of" or "stick of" in order to refer to a singular item within that category.
"That furniture is black" heavily implies plurality in English; "That piece of furniture is black" is much more natural when referencing a singular piece of furniture, both to hear and to say. The French « immeuble » doesn't work the same way as "furniture", so when translating you cannot simply go from one word to the other; you must accommodate such differences in order to preserve the nuance of your meaning and the naturalness of your delivery.
You're right, it can be complicated. But I for one find it frustrating when native English speakers complain about being marked wrong when they are, in fact, wrong. I'm sure you can find francophones out there who find the majority of Parisian French "overly fussy" and perhaps even "incorrect", and yet you are still here learning it - because it is the standard to learn by, to which all other dialects of French give a nod. How much better to learn something new about your native language than to get hung up on it!
You're incorrect. In ONE of his examples, furniture is used as a category. In the OTHER there is a synecdochical substitution so that what is normally a collective noun is actually used in the singular. It is so much more common in English to phrase it this way, that in many use cases it will sound so unnatural as to be incorrect to say, "piece of furniture" when "furniture" can be used in the singular in this way.
Stop telling us we are missing the point when you are the one missing the point.
Your example only makes the distinction of whether the noun is countable or not. Not whether it can be used in the singular, which it can.
So, when speaking of only one piece (as in the exercise in question), it is perfectly correct to say, "Will you help me move this furniture?" After moving the item, the helper may look to you to see if any additional items are to be moved (because it can be ambiguous), but they will not be surprised to find that you only intended to move the one, because it can be singular.
I translated "Le meuble est noir" as "The furniture is black," and was marked wrong. My 'boeuf' with this is that I looked up (before I was even presented this sentence) the word 'meuble' on wiktionary, a source I trust, and it said that 'meuble,' in its singular form can be collective, referring to all the pieces of furniture in a room. With this definition in mind, I thought my translation made a lot of sense. Perhaps wiktionary got it wrong? Any explanation from a native Francophone?
"furniture", it its singular form can be collective, referring to all the pieces of furniture in a room.
not "meuble", which is only a piece of furniture (ie: un tabouret ou une chaise ou un fauteuil ou une table ou une armoire ou un placard ou une penderie ou un secrétaire ou une commode ou un lit... is that enough?)
Except that this usage is practically not existent in normal usage. To a native English speaker, to say "The piece of furniture is in the way," is so clumsy that any speaker would readily replace it with "furniture" in normal usage.
The expectation that a native English speaker would readily translate the phrase this way is pedantic and silly.
To put it another way, using the English collective here to translate the French singular is more correct in terms of usage than a more literal translation.
You make absolute sense, thank you :) My confusion came about because I saw the definition "(Au singulier) (Collectivement) Toute la garniture d’un appartement, d’une chambre, d’un cabinet, etc." on a site I thought I could trust. With examples like "Il a un beau meuble de salon."
So - are you saying - despite the fact that "meuble" can function as a collective, that it would have to be "Les meubles sont noirs" or what would be the correct sentence to align with "The furniture is black?" Or are collectives like "ce" as the subject, and you would use "Le meuble sont noirs"? That really seems wrong, but I'm just learning about collectives - so - ???
Le meuble est noir / Les meubles sont noirs respect the usual rules of conjugation and agreement of the adjective with the noun (masculine, singular or plural).
"un meuble" does not function as a collective, the collective noun is "l'ameublement": l'ameublement est noir (masculine, singular)
Just to pitch in here. Whilst all the singular plural/collective /singular noun use all makes grammatical sense, the real problem is that the sentence translation is incredibly clumsy. It is difficult to think of a circumstance where a British person would say "the piece of furniture is black" ... perhaps the solution is to change the sentence to be a translation of That piece of furniture is back... ce meuble est noir, je pense!
Hmmm ... "Le meuble est noir" (the piece of furniture is black) or "les meubles sont noir" (the furniture [collective] is black, or the pieces of furniture are black). Never "le meuble sont noirs." "Meuble" will only be used with singular verbs and adjectives, and "meubles" with plurals. It's not like "ce," where you can have either "c'est" or "ce sont" depending on context. Un peu plus clair, j'espère?
I know what you are talking about. I just spent 15 minutes going through my massive notecard collection and I finally found it. lol.
You are thinking of the following sentence: ''Les chats peuvent voir dans le noir.'' The translation provided by Duolingo was: ''The cats can see in the dark.''
Contrary to what others have told you, your construct, "the furniture piece" has long been in use in exactly this way in the interior design industry and has gained serious traction in mainstream speech. I would argue that it is probably more likely to be heard in everyday use than "the piece of furniture," though probably not as much as "a piece of furniture." If I had thought of it, I probably would have put it as my answer.
On the multiple choice version, I was marked incorrect because I didn't choose "the cabinet is black" along with "the piece of furniture is black." But when asked to translate the same sentence, I was marked wrong for "the cabinet is black," which I used only because I was marked wrong when I didn't select that as a correct translation before. Some consistency would be nice. It is confusing.
Nowhere in the French course itself can "meuble" be translated to "cabinet", neither in the sentences' accepted translations, nor in the hints (when you hover on "meuble").
However, I found out that in the English course for French speakers, the word "cabinet" could be translated to "un meuble". So I have had to assume that there was a kind of spillover from the reverse course.
I therefore changed the reverse course accordingly, so that the generic "un meuble" is no longer accepted as a correct translation for the specific "cabinet", or vice-versa, in either course.
As a native English speaker, I agree with MrBennet's comment near the end. I doubt that most English speakers would refer to a single piece of furniture as just "the furniture" they would specify "the table, the chair, etc." It's more natural. Once there is more than one piece you aren't usually going to recite a list of it so "the furniture" covers it.
I find it surprising that some native English speakers say they would refer to a single piece of furniture as "the furniture". I would rarely do that. I have to to think of unusual situations where I might say it in context just to clarify, but otherwise it would seem awkward or forced to me. The French presents us with a sentence that demands we indicate in English that it is a single piece or item of furniture even though we would normally avoid this by specifying what type of furniture. I was taught to handle this scenario by referring to it as a piece of furniture. It's common to hear furniture lovers' refer to a beautiful piece of furniture as a "nice piece or a beautiful piece". "Piece of furniture" gets 40,500,000 hits on Google and the first one is a Wiktionary entry for that term. So it's definitely not an unusual usage in my view.
http://dict.leo.org/frde/index_de.html#/search=meuble&searchLoc=0&resultOrder=basic&multiwordShowSingle=on also: nirgendwo Schrank. Google pictures: nirgendwo Schrank(cabinet)
In this context, 'noir' means 'black'. It could translate to 'dark' if you were talking about the absence of light ('il fait noir dehors' = 'it's dark outside'), or about dark chocolate or maybe a few other specific things, but when you're describing the colour of something, 'noir' is always 'black'. 'Dark' would be 'foncé' in this context.
It seems that the phrase the piece of furniture is black is obslete in English, If it is one peice of furniture we would refer to it as the chair, or the table or the wardrobe, or even the thingy-me-jig before we would think of using the phrase a piece of furniture. A piece of furniture tells us little information other than it is an object in a room. amongst many other objects. I however feel it is an important learning pont that the French do use it , and it is important that when it is used it dsecribes one item alone not a collection. We english speaker know immediately when someone uses sheeps that they are not native speakers. Knowing this about furniture may help us not sound too ridiculous.
Reading comments and sitesurf's explanation I think I now understand what sitesurf is explaining here. ... just we use the English expression in a different way than the French do... and so I think the message is that le meuble can only be a piece of furniture, although in English you just would say" the furniture... or you would specify what kind of furniture one means......