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  5. "Tu parles des livres."

"Tu parles des livres."

Translation:You are talking about the books.

January 8, 2013



This is the really crappy (read as confusing) thing about services like this (as great as they are, they are limited):

"Tu parles des livres." = you speak about the books. My answer of 'you speak about books' was incorrect. Forcing the article 'the'.

"Tu parles des filles." = you speak about girls This was accepted??? It's directly equal to the above.

How is there any difference whatsoever?


There's the "Report a problem" button. If you are confident that Duolingo has it wrong, please pay it forward for other users by using the button.

Hopefully someone with more french expertise can weigh in on this soon. I'm curious myself


parler de = to talk about

parler des (de + les = des) = to talk about the

Only some verbs use "de" to mean "about".

For explanation, please read Sitesurf's and Hohenems' comments on a similar sentence construction here :


and also ThanKwee's comments here:



Duolingo also accepted "She speaks of roses" for "Elle parle des roses." I thought I understood someones thorough explanation for why des = de les. So this sentence I understand why the 'the' is there. What I don't get are the cases likes "speaks of roses."


I think the word "des" has many means at contexts. Normally it means "some" or nothing. But now this sentence's "des" means "about the". Because it can be seperated "de les" and the "de" can mean "ABOUT".


how would you say "You speak about books" then? =)


Tu parles de livres.


no because livres is plural therefore de must be des. There should be two answers for this question.


No, shaybay is right. Since the phrase is "parler de", if you are talking about specific books, "tu parles de les livres" = "tu parles des livres." If you are talking about some general books, "tu parles de des livres" = "tu parles de livres."


The answer (which is mentioned here many times) is "Tu parles de livres." You get rid of the definite article.


very good question


I have gotten this wrong several times, but someone found this helpful resource to explain why sometimes the translation to "about the" makes more sense than just "about": http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/preposition_de.htm


No, they have not... They still force the article 'the'


I just answered exactely the same way as you did and got it as a mistake too.


Yeah, that's confusing. More explanation as to why it is or isn't this way is needed.


tu parles de livres = you speak about books in general; tu parles des livres = you speak about the books - specific books: Dickens' books, Paulo Coelho's books, etc, etc.


"tu parles des livres" the article "des" is used to talk about specific books, in the case we talk about random books, we can say "tu parles de livres" -> "you talk about books"

For the girls, "tu parles des filles" could mean we talk about the girls in general, all the girls. So we use the plural "des". In this case, "tu parles de filles" is right. In my opinion, duolinguo sometimes is a bit though, you can report.

(1) "you talk about girls", "tu parles de filles" "you talks about books", "tu parles de livres"

(2) "you talk about the girls", "tu parles des filles" "you talk about the books", "tu parles des livres"

(1) You talk about what they are in general, like a kind of science, and not what (2) they contain and all things related to or to talk about specific things of that kind (some specific girls or books) like a sum up... It's really hard to explain...

It's a tiny difference, nobody will notice the difference in a random conversation in french. It's a bit more clear to make the difference, that's all. I hope my explanation is clear...


I was on my last question and did the same as you, I lost


if you translate the Tu parles des livres it has the in there because its masculine and tu parles des filles is feminim


Completely in agreement with you. I think the problem is that Americans don’t speak English.


This lesson is maddeningly inconsistent.


I couldn"t agree more! >:(


I agree! When they have these type of questions it doesn't help you learn French, just how to tell duolingo what it wants to hear!


What did you find inconsistent?


In English, "You speak about books" and "You speak about THE books" have slightly different meanings. Is there a way to distinguish these two in French?


yes -- je parle des livres is "you speak about the books" je parle de livres is "you speak about books"


The confusing thing is that rarely do you see a noun in French without the article (ie. des, les) so it is very confusing to come across one where de, which I, in present learning state, think of as part of a feminine, "de la" vs du, actually makes it "the" books.


It's true. You do rarely see nouns in french without some sort of article.

You'll start seeing "de" more often from here on out, iirc, not always with nouns, either. So it should start solidifying in your head as its own beast soon enough.


oh wow this could be the answer we have been all looking for, do you have any sources deilann?


http://french.about.com/od/expressions/a/parler.htm <-- the phrase "parler de" means to speak about. "des" is a contraction of "de" and "les" parler des livres, speak about the books. parler de livres, speak about books.


So the phrase "parler de" makes sense. To speak about.
Contracted with the definite article "les" gives us "des". I think we all get that.

So to posit my original question again... only slightly differently. Aren't these two examples of the same thing? Tu parles des livres = You speak about the books
Tu parles des filles = You speak about the girls.

If you agree, then why is that DuoLingo does not agree???
Tu parles des livres = You speak about the books DuoLingo does not accept "You speak about books"

Tu parles des filles = You speak about girls (notice no "the" in the translation) DuoLingo does not accept "You speak about the girls"

I hope this doesn't come across as snotty. I'm really trying to understand the difference here. And I ask you because you have made the effort to explain this to other commenters so many times below. Can you give it another shot here, please?

My contention is that both "You speak about girls" and "You speak about THE girls" are both acceptable.


I feel that "Tu parles des filles" should be translated as "You speak about the girls" and that "You speak about girls" should not be accepted. It's an inconsistency; I'll give you that.


Excellent! Thanks, deilann, for this (and I'm sorry you had to repeat yourself so often and put up with some rudeness in this thread).

The link was really useful. Here's a phrase from it: "Parler de choses et d'autres" ("To speak about this and that"). This follows the structure you described.

Merci! Continuez à commenter!


Your comments/answers have helped me immensely, thank you!


Yes deilann, you are right.

parler de = to talk about

parler des (de + les = des) = to talk about the

Only some verbs use "de" to mean "about".

For explanation, please read sitesurf's and Hohenems' comments on a similar sentence construction here :


and also ThanKwee's comments here:



these books are definite; if I speak about girls, these girls aren't definite. the problem is: duolingo don't says if it is definite or indefinite... and forgive my english...


So I think 'definite' vs. 'indefinite' is the missing link here, as you say. And therefore, "tu parles de livres" would mean "you talk about books" (indefinite)

BUT, my example above "tu parles des filles" = "you talk about girls" was accepted, remember? According to the definite/indefinite piece... this is clearly a case of definite, that is, Les Filles = THE girls. So is should not have accepted my answer and forced me to say "you talk about THE girls".

So while I agree with you that 'definite vs indefinite' may be the key here, the rule is not followed consistently in the lesson.


That is the real point! There is no consistency. Perhaps Duolingo needs a report.


antlane- Your English is a lot better than my French!


thanks ( did you lie?)


Nope, she's right! Your english is a lot better than my French too!


My question is why duolingo does not also highlight 'des' as a new word in this instance? If the 'de' is part of the new phrase I think this would stop the confusion and help to teach users the phrase correctly which is surely the point.


why is 'you talk about books' wrong?


In this case isn't "des livres" translated as "of the books"?


Yes. You are 'talking of the books', i.e. about the books.


I wrote about some books and got it right. Is there a way to distinguish between some books or the books?


I wrote "some books" too but they said it was wrong!


des livres = books les livres = the books


That made it really clear


Why dont we translate it as "the books" in this case ? This does not make sense.


yeah, considering I just got "Elle parle des robes" wrong for translating as "She speaks about dresses." Supposedly, it needed to be "she speaks about the robes" in THAT case.



any french speaker could tell us if this is a mistake that we should report?


Because I realize that the questions are somewhat randomized I will preface this by mentioning I was asked to translate "Tu parles des livres" to english.

How on earth was I to know des wasnt an indefinite article in this specific case?


You have to recognize the phrase "parler de" which means "to talk about." It's tough with Duolingo's system.


How do you know this is "parler de" exactly. Does "parler" and other conjugations of that verb always require "de" when used in a sentence? Does it ever stand alone?


I could say "Je parle." I speak. So no de. "Je parle aux chats." I speak to cats. But if I want to say "I speak about" I need "Je parle de," just like I need the about in English. The about there doesn't mean "near to" like it might mean in "about five" in English -- it means the subject of what I'm saying.

If you ever see "de" after a conjugation of parler, it's being used this way. It's just the way the verb is used.


I have no idea why someone would downvote this. Have my counter-vote.


How would one translate "Tu parles de livres"?


Could this answer not also be "you speak of books"


I'm also confused as to why this was counted wrong.


"You speak about books" would be "Tu parles de livres." You drop the partitive article «des» after «de». You don't, however, drop «les»; instead, you combine «de» and «les» into «des» (which isn't the same «des» as the partitive article).


Why is "you talk about some books" wrong? Sounds pretty correct to me. Somebody please explain.


Because there is a definite article. This sentence is using the phrase "parle de" which means talk about. So what we've got is "parle de les livres." "de les" contracts into "des"


I thought 'des' meant some or was used when, in english, nothing goes before the noun? But here it says 'the'. Surely if it was 'the' it would say "tu parles les livres?"


There is a definite article. This sentence is using the phrase "parle de" which means talk about. So what we've got is "parle de les livres." "de les" contracts into "des"


My frustration exactly. I guess it will all come with time and practice (and losing those lingots)!


Here, have a lingot to make up for it, and for sticking with the learning process!


'des' =de les parler de=talk about les=the So this sentence should be 'Tu parles de les livre' Grammar is like match LOL


I had the same question as sessoms.


i agree with sessoms. I'm only doing these lessons to refresh my vocabulair and the answer you talk/speak about the books is wrong. with des/de la or du there is no article in the translation.


If the meaning says "you talk about the book", shouldn't the question become "Tu parles des les livres"?


It's because the verb is Parler de (talk about) so if books is plural de + les= des. So "You talk about the books" is "Tu parles des livres. (there's a couple other questions on here that explain this more in-depth)


Is it not "You are talking about books?" I thought it would have to say "Tu parles LES livres" for it to be "You are talking about THE books?"....


The phrase "talk about" "parle de" So talk about the books is "parle de les livres" "de les" contracts into "des" and you have "parle des livres"


Since there is no definite article wouldn't it be "You talk about books"? if no the literal "you talk books"?


There is a definite article. This sentence is using the phrase "parle de" which means talk about. So what we've got is "parle de les livres." "de les" contracts into "des"


I reported this to the Duolingo team! If you think it needs editing, do so and resend it, but I think it gets our point across. ;)

Duolingo does not explain at all why this sentence should be "You are talking about the books," rather than "You are talking about books," which excludes the article "the." This is very confusing and I still do not understand why this is. Many people agree that this is not correct. I think you should either explain why this is or stop forcing the article "the."


to talk about = parler de (as a compound unit)

You are talking about... = Tu parles de...

You are talking about the books = Tu parles de les livres = Tu parles des livres

You are talking about books = Tu parles de livres

Note that "de" is part of the verb and doesn't change with the number of the items you are talking about. So it just comes down whether 'the' is there or not. If it is, it forces the contraction, or another way to put it is if you see 'parles des' then you know 'les' is implicit. If you see 'parles de' then 'les' is not implicit.

This is des = de les, not des = some. If it were des = some, then the verb would be parler and not parler de. That would make the sentence "You speak some books" which is nonsense. So that leaves one option, the option Duolingo requires: You are talking about the books.

However, if you mean books in general, that would also require "de les = des" so in that sense, it could accept "You are talking about books (in general)" and perhaps it should.


Thanks for explaining that clearly. So, "I talk about the book " would be " Je parle du livre"? And "I talk about a book"?


Je parle d'un livre.


Doesnt des mean some? And les means the (plural)?


Des is a contraction of de and les. I suggest reading some of the other comments here.


They really should stop killing hearts and actually EXPLAIN the grammar...sheesh!


Now I am confused I thought des mean" some" And les mean" the"


Please read the discussion. You will find the answer. I have a longish post just above this in fact.


"des" usually refers to "some," so why is "You are talking about some books wrong"?


Please read the discussion. You will find the answer. I have a longish post just above this in fact.

[deactivated user]

    I don't get it. "The books" shd be "les livres". Whereas Duolingo has taught us previously that "des" means "some", or is sometimes not translated.


    Perhaps try reading the discussion before commenting on it.


    Duo should have a respond mechanism to explain to learners about what they think are right but actually wrong


    Is that not what the discussions are for?


    why not: tu parles 'les' livres?

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