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  5. "Le meuble est noir."

"Le meuble est noir."

Translation:The piece of furniture is black.

January 7, 2013

92 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maparis

How do we know it's specifically a cabinet? Why is simply "furniture" not accepted?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

In English, furniture has a plural meaning. You would therefore have to say "a piece of furniture" to translate "un meuble".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jkitts

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ejm_etherwork

I couldn't believe that I had to change my answer from "The furniture..." to "The piece of furniture..." I agree with jkitts and will report it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/4Elysa

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?)".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"un meuble" is not plural. for the collective "furniture", we use "le mobilier" or "l'ameublement".

the furniture is in the way = les meubles sont sur mon chemin.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jonthawk

If I opened a door and there was a table in my way, I would say "The furniture is in my way."

Translating that as "Les meubles..." would be incorrect, since the furniture in my way is singular.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/driusan

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JasonKerr2

Except this usage practically does not exist in normal everyday speech. The expectation that a native English speaker would respond with this usage is utterly ridiculous.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JasonKerr2

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XieC2

But the expectation here is actually that an English speaker will understand the French usage and indicate that understanding in their translation, which is perfectly reasonable.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/krista189497

jkitts, a brilliant answer. it is a Duo mistake and it still is not corrected. I have given you a lingot


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Patrick106262

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XieC2

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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"immeuble" = building; "meuble" = piece of furniture


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JasonKerr2

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Phosphorus347

But you're still missing the point!!………well, maybe…


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Carla472872

The thing is that I wouldn't use 'furniture' in that sense at all - I'd be specific and call it a table or cabinet or whatever the item of furniture actually was. The only time I'd say 'item of furniture' would be to categorise something as such.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Snefferdy

No, this is simply not correct: "How many furnitures do you have? I have 3 furnitures?"

Correct English REQUIRES you to say, "how many pieces of furniture do you have? I have 3 pieces of furniture."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JasonKerr2

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Phosphorus347

Well, the word refers to a singular object, but it is actually still plural.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/duogm

@sitesurf, am i the only one who is hearing "le meme" instead of le meuble in the audio?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

The woman's audio is mediocre, because the word "meuble" is cut short and a tiny pause follows, whereas you should hear "meuble + est" in one go: [muhblay]. Have you tried the slow version?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/duogm

Ill look for that. Thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/januszekpl

Oh come on.. Really? Piece of furniture? Who speaks like that? The point is not to translate languages word by word but to translate meanings in the easiest and common way. I think "the furniture is black" should be accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

If Duolingo does not oblige you to take a good look at the fact that "furniture" translates to a countable noun, you will not remember it easily.

If Duolingo lets you translate "un meuble" to "furniture", how will you translate "furniture" next time you need it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fallgirl123

But it says "the furniture" not "a furniture", I do not understand.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Josh5now

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"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?)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JasonKerr2

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XieC2

Using the English collective here to translate the French singular is neither more figuratively correct nor more literally correct, so I don't know why you bring up the literalness of the translation, or how the incorrect translation can be "more correct".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JasonKerr2

I mean more lexically correct, which should take priority over the literal sense.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XieC2

In what way do you purport that it is more lexically correct? There is no problem with the current translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JasonKerr2

I mean that it is is more natural to the native ear, the alternative being noticeably awkward when spoken and appearing overly wordy and stilted when written.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/krista189497

Jason Kerr 2 correct!!!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Josh5now

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."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alathat

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 - ???


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

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)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KathrynFowler

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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kalukuhan

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael_France

Tnx for new vocab words.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cheyne

Elsewhere in Duolingo "noir" is allowed to be translated as dark. And every online definition I've seen has "dark" as one of its meanings. Considering it completely makes sense here it really seems it should be accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/The_D

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.''


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

I don't think so. There is indeed a difference between "dark" and "black" ("sombre/foncé" and "noir").

"dark blue" = bleu foncé "a dark night" = une nuit sombre


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kalukuhan

I think it's dependent on context. Dark chocolate or black coffee are "noir" as opposed to milk-containing (au lait). Furniture comes in various dark shades, and "noir" is then more specific. Maybe a native speaker can enlighten (or endarken).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kalukuhan

Also "lunettes noires" means "sunglasses" or "dark glasses," rather than "black glasses."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ubernichts

Your examples refer to dim lighting, not dark colours, I guess darkness is blackness in French.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kacenka9

I translated it as "The cabinet is black" and lost a heart. Now what? Why?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ringthebells

The same thing happened to me. Is there something about the sentence that indicates meuble doesn't mean cabinet here, or is it a mistake in Duo's programming?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/neverfox

Well, «meuble» by itself doesn't mean cabinet, as far as the dictionaries I've consulted say, and despite what the drop-down here says.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JanetHudgins

Le meuble est noir. How can it be "the item of furniture," or "the cabinet?" It's clear enough that it's just "the furniture."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mathbobcod

"The furniture piece is black" was marked wrong. This seems like an error to me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BioJess

This is not really English. "The piece of furniture is black" is the correct translation.

The only way your sentence makes sense is if "piece" is short for "a piece of art" and if "furniture" is used as an adjective: meaning "The art installation about furniture is black."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XieC2

As a native speaker, I would also mark your sentence wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JasonKerr2

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XieC2

Many instances of industry jargon are inappropriate for a basic language learning exercise. You may want to consider that this may be one of them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mrbennet

I'll take your word for "the furniture piece" being used in industry, but "the piece of furniture" is much more common overall.

https://goo.gl/sojTuj


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoelFeil

Can I not translate this as "the cabinet is black"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

No, because "un meuble" can be a table or a stool.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PhilMacK

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PhilMacK

Thanks. I was surprised when the exercise counted "cabinet" as an acceptable translation for "un meuble." Glad to know that will not happen again.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kolovari

There is a cat on the sofa, one on the table, one on the love seat and one on the chair. Chaque chat a se meuble.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mrbennet

Chaque chat a son meuble.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul771085

The word 'furniture' is certainly not plural alone, it can also be singular!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mrbennet

It's neither plural nor singular (you certainly wouldn't refer to 'a furniture'), it's a mass noun.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThomasChaplin

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Natka01

cabinet as an office?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

No, cabinet as a file cabinet (piece of furniture)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kalukuhan

Maybe a piece of furniture in an office (bad joke).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HelbentForleder

This is still BS. I hate being told how to speak my native language. Furniture is uncountable in English. No reason that a person wouldn't say 'The furniture is black.' It can mean the piece. For God sakes... Change the accepted answers already.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

There is a good reason, though:

  • the furniture is black = le mobilier est noir (= table + chairs + sofa + cupboard + chest of drawers...)

  • UN meuble = ONE piece of furniture


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MzMolly65

Why can't we use dark since some furniture is dark in colour without being actually black? Is there a grammatical reason here?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mrbennet

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MzMolly65

Thank you. So if I understand you correctly, if I have a dark brown couch I could say, "Mon canapé est fonce."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MzMolly65

Yes thank you, but i don't have to add the marron in there if I'm just explaining that my couch is a dark colour but that it's not black .. right?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DarrellMoy

"The furniture piece is black" marked wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MTCarey

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/stevieleser

In an exercise later it translates meuble as cabinet


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Forget about it. "Un meuble" is any piece of furniture whereas "a cabinet" is a specific piece of furniture (most often: une armoire, un buffet, une vitrine... ).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarlosR910775

Is there any difference between "the piece of furniture" and "the furniture piece?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/C.MichlSch

In the same lesson we have "meuble" meaning both "cabinet" & "a piece of furniture." I don't know which needs to go, but I would suggest Cabinet be either counted correct or removed from this lesson entirely.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"Un meuble" can be a chair or a table, so "cabinet" is not a correct tranlation for "un meuble".

The best translatioin is "a piece of furniture".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NickRrrr

Who in english would ever say "The item of furniture is black", "The furniture is black" is more natural, I disagree with Sitesurf, the word is commonly used this way in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mrbennet

"The furniture is black" implies more than one item though. In practice we'd just be more specific: "the chair/cabinet/sideboard/whatever is black". Just another instance of usage differing enough between languages to make translation awkward.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fallgirl123

The furniture is black. I do not see why that is marked wrong. That is exactly what we would say in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/krista189497

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......


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AhmetOLCEN

Why not " the furniture is black"

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