"Tu parles des livres."

Translation:You are talking about the books.

January 8, 2013

109 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/sessoms
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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?

July 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/rkent

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

July 22, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/mickeycool

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 :

https://www.duolingo.com/comment/119842

and also ThanKwee's comments here:

https://www.duolingo.com/comment/316702

December 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/neverfox

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."

January 8, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Chogas
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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".

November 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Goim
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how would you say "You speak about books" then? =)

November 10, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/shaybay13

Tu parles de livres.

November 10, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/jcar88

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

November 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/emmaliv

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."

December 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/wildengel

Good question!

February 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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The answer (which is mentioned here many times) is "Tu parles de livres." You get rid of the definite article.

February 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/GundaWright

very good question

April 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/annsera

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

March 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/lsartoriduolingo

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

October 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Zimmer_bom

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

December 31, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/bizworld
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Yeah, that's confusing. More explanation as to why it is or isn't this way is needed.

June 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/antlane
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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.

June 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/elise_brs
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"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...

May 30, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Superlamby

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

July 11, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/realmofawesome

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

November 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/John168525

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

February 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DinahMama

There isn't. Especially in English.

July 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/kovike

They fixed it already :)

August 20, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/DinahMama

This lesson is maddeningly inconsistent.

July 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Gardnerwestbound

I couldn"t agree more! >:(

September 26, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/mareekimberley

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!

June 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/neverfox

What did you find inconsistent?

June 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/cjchem

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?

August 12, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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yes -- je parle des livres is "you speak about the books" je parle de livres is "you speak about books"

December 25, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/millerfamilymom

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.

May 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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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.

May 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/silviaegt
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oh wow this could be the answer we have been all looking for, do you have any sources deilann?

January 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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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.

January 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/sessoms
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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.

January 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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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.

January 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/MrHazard
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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!

June 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Creativewan
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Your comments/answers have helped me immensely, thank you!

November 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/mickeycool

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 :

https://www.duolingo.com/comment/119842

and also ThanKwee's comments here:

https://www.duolingo.com/comment/316702

December 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/GundaWright

splitting hairs

April 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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Not really. Talking about books in general and talking about "the books," in other words, books already brought up in conversation, are two very different things. The sentences have drastically different meanings in English-- and in French.

April 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/antlane
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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...

August 12, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/sessoms
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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.

November 11, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/wildengel

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

March 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/RachelDodm

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

January 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/antlane
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thanks ( did you lie?)

January 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Linxter

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

November 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Valestellarium

good point

September 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/miss_mischief

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.

March 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Wonderboy6
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why is 'you talk about books' wrong?

September 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Chogas
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Because of not all Books but the books.

November 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/bonnie.sjoberg

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

January 8, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/martinalexrolph

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

February 3, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Joel-Iowan

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

March 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/ACCOUNTKILLER

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

November 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/HuyVuQuang

des livres = books les livres = the books

November 5, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/eric.deloz

That made it really clear

May 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/royrituraj0

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

June 10, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/MacV
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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.

Weird.

June 10, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/diego_ragazzo

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

August 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/M.A.Burnside

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?

February 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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You have to recognize the phrase "parler de" which means "to talk about." It's tough with Duolingo's system.

February 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/millerfamilymom

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?

May 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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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.

May 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/neverfox

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

May 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/epops667

How would one translate "Tu parles de livres"?

July 15, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Subraji

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

October 3, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/robinbuggs

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

June 30, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/neverfox

"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).

June 30, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/robinbuggs

Many thanks!

June 30, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/piy9

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

October 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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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"

January 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Brittt97

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?"

October 24, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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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"

January 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/millerfamilymom

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

May 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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Here, have a lingot to make up for it, and for sticking with the learning process!

May 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Fr.Jack-Hackett

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

April 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Talhsoma

I had the same question as sessoms.

July 26, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/StefanieP

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.

August 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/lukman.A
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If the meaning says "you talk about the book", shouldn't the question become "Tu parles des les livres"?

August 15, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/shaybay13

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)

November 9, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/millerfamilymom

French has no problem using apostrophes in other contractions as with "j'aime" so it's too bad they don't use them in this use as well (just for the sake of us "learners" - LOL). No doubt there is plenty of frustration with English inconsistencies as well.

May 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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French contractions only seem to use an apostrophe when you're dealing with two vowels running up against each other. Des, du, au, aux -- no apostrophes there. Unfortunately, Duo isn't the best system to learn contractions like this.

May 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/frenchmm

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?"....

November 24, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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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"

January 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AndrewBack3

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

January 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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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"

January 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/12Creative

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."

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/neverfox

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.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/pp65
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Thanks for explaining that clearly. So, "I talk about the book " would be " Je parle du livre"? And "I talk about a book"?

May 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/neverfox

Je parle d'un livre.

May 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/sillysilvy

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

March 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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Des is a contraction of de and les. I suggest reading some of the other comments here.

March 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/WaterChieftain

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

May 30, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/ola.alteme

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

June 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/neverfox

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

June 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/hanSheps

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

July 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/neverfox

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

July 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Ne7erwinter

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.

July 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/deilann
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Perhaps try reading the discussion before commenting on it.

July 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/trung.n.thu

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

August 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/neverfox

Is that not what the discussions are for?

August 4, 2014
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