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I, too, would have instinctually translated this this "elles sont" from the English out of instinct and am surprised to learn otherwise—but stranger still to me is that if "ce" is the necessary article, why not "cettes"? This structure is entirely new to me.
"cettes" does not exist in French.
masculine singular = Ce; feminine singular = Cette; Plural (for both genders) = Ces
But why is it "ce sont des femmes" and not "ceS sont des femmes"? As you said, ce = singular and ces = plural
Pronoun "ce" has no plural.
"ces" is a demonstrative adjective, to agree with the noun it modifies: ces hommes or ces femmes
If "ce" is masculine and "cette" is feminine. How could the sentence be "ce sont des femmes" if the women or feminine? Thanks again.
"ce sont" is the fixed plural of "c'est", where "ce" is a singular pronoun that does not have a plural form.
In other words, it is just that. That's just very French.
Ce Sont C'est
But I don't understand how "they" or "these" are ever singular to begin with, regardless of gender...
"Ce sont" does not mean "they are" (It is just that in English we could use either "they are" or "these are" or "those are" where "ce sont" has been used.), but this impersonal expression is used in French if the noun is modified (by adjectives or possessive pronouns) instead of the pronoun with verb, such as "Elles sont" or "Ils sont".
It is "Ils sont professeurs., " but it is "Ce sont des professeurs fantastiques."
Even the articles count as modifiers, so "des femmes" must be preceded by the impersonal expression "Ce sont". "C'est" is used with singular modified nouns and is the contraction of "ce" + "est". It is not so much that ce has no plural, but that it doesn't change for the plural. See when to use this pronoun in the following site:
Be sure to scroll past the demonstrative adjective to get to the pronoun in the following site: http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/francais-anglais/ce
Wow...I commend you sir, 14 languages with a year long streak...Now that's dedication.
Thanks for the detailed explanation but I just don't understand it... 'modified' nouns and pronouns / 'impersonal expressions' etc. In England we had very poor education around grammar and structure of language so the vocabulary used above means literally, nothing... :-( Not feeling confident at all.
No problem, you can memorize these rules without any grammar jargon:
You cannot say "elle est une/sa/cette femme" because "femme" is not alone, there is "une" or "sa" or "cette" which change the construction.
- She is a/his/this woman = c'est une/sa/cette femme.
Same rule in masculine:
- He is a/her/this dentist = c'est un/son/ce dentiste.
Same rule in plural:
- They are -/our/these dogs = ce sont des/nos/ces chiens.
If the noun or pronoun is modified, it is simply not by itself. Another word is describing it. An impersonal expression does not tell you if someone is feminine or masculine. In English, "she" or "he" are "persons", but you would have no idea if someone were to say "Those are great" whether we were talking about things or people though for people we might be more likely to say "they" since it is a personal expression.
You said "Ils sont professeurs." but it is "Ce sont des professeurs fantastiques."
I don't understand the difference between the two sentences. Probably because I don't know what modified means...
A modifier can be:
- an article: un, une, des, le, la, l', les
- a number: un, deux...
- a possessive adjective: mon, ton, son, ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur, mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs
- a demonstrative adjective: ce, cet, cette, ces
Ok, lemme see if I understand. Because "femmes" is modified by "des" I need to use "Ce sont"?
So if the sentence would have been: 'they are the women', you could say 'elles sont les femmes'? Or do you also use 'ce sont' in this situation?
If the sentence were "they are the women", the French would be "ce sont les femmes".
"elles sont + determiner + noun" has to change go "ce sont + determiner + noun".
I don't understand either. The website says to use "Il/elle/ils/elles" when describing a person and "c'est/ce sont" when describing a situation. Is it incorrect to say "elles sont des femmes"? Is it perhaps correct grammar but not something that a native speaker would say?
Please try this one and come back if anything were still unclear: http://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/cest-versus-il-elle-est
From what I understood from this text, it shouldve been elles (because it is an unmodified noun)
The word "des" before the noun "femmes" is a modifier. Modifiers can be any article, definite or indefinite. So le, la, les, un, une, des, mon, ma, mes, votre, vos are all considered modifiers. Take a look here for a detailed explanation. http://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/cest-versus-il-elle-est
Thank you. But if so, isn't it that all words in french have a modifier? because you can never have a word in french (as far as I've understood) without a modifier. Even though, you don't really mean to use a modifier (like in English)
The modifier is what generally accompanies a noun. E.g., C'est une homme intelligent. But when être is followed by an adjective ("elle est intelligente" or "il est grand"), you don't use "c'est". That is why you can say "il est enseignant" but it's "c'est un enseignant." Don't forget to read the link; it provides a detailed explanation. And don't worry if you struggle with this because the "il est" vs. "c'est" issue is a challenge for learners and takes most of us quite a while to internalize it.
Why for this one "des" isn't translated as "some women" but simply "women"? I've noticed that for the other cases "des" is always considered "some" in English... any thoughts?
In English these are some women and these are women say the same thing.
Also disagree. No one speaking English would be (or at least should be) indifferent to using or reading "some" in a sentence. When it isn't a technical limitation, the usage tends to be dismissive or derogatory. Skipping it is a mistake. This is a peculiarity in Romance languages as far as I can tell; certainly haven't seen it in German. When to use that mystical "some" in translation (going in either direction) still eludes me. Which is all rather odd since it derives from Latin "de" which means "from" or "of", and is not thrown about in cavalier fashion to the best of my knowledge.
The "some" referred to here is the closest English approximation to the plural indefinite article of French, i.e., un/une (singular), des (plural). It has nothing to do with the "des" (contraction of de+les) meaning "from the" or "of the". Learners of French often confuse that "des" with the "des" meaning "more than one".
un livre = a book
- des livres = books -or- some books (the "some" is usually ignored in English).
Maybe it's because in English you can hear the difference between "book" and "books" but one cannot hear the difference between "livre" and "livres".
I can't agree. In English we wouldn't say "These are women" that would be very odd. We would say They are women. (these would refer to things ... not to people. So they are women, these are strawberries). If we used the term "These are some women" it wold be used to refer to the fact that they are great woman - kind of slang. As in "That's some woman you have." In effect leaving out the word great or ... It would generally be used in a positive sense but could be used sarcastically.
These are women = these are some women.
You are correct. They are some women = they are women would be more common.
What is that crowd outside the door?........ They are some women. I don't know what they want. .....
No slang involved at all. No judgement as to their worth.
I agree as long as it is "they are some women" while it is not how I would say it; there is no slang and no confusion but these are some women is a different thing entirely..
What are those blurry things in the background of this photo? ........These are some women, those are some men, I can't make out the rest of them but they might be different structures of some kind.....
The issue comes from using "some" in different ways in English. If you look at it as describing their awesomeness, then that makes sense. But be careful about getting locked onto one sense of a word and not being able to see the other. It goes back to the fact that French uses "des" as a plural of "un/une".
- un livre = a book
- des livres = books -or- (some) books. The "some" is usually ignored in English
English doesn't really have a special word for the plural indefinite article, which is why the "some" (which only means "more than one" in this sense) is generally omitted. Sometimes, you will see a sentence pop up which shows "some" used in this way, but just be aware that most of the time you can ignore it in English when it is used to mean "more than one". Not to be confused with quelque or quelques-uns.
In most situations in French there has to be an article before a noun whereas in English we can just omit it sometimes. When you say "I was watching movies" in English you really mean "I was watching some movies," but the "some" is understood so you can leave it out, in French you'd have to say "Je regardais des films."
I do not understand why this was ce and not elles, can someone clarify because the clutter in the other comments is a bit confusing.
Yes, that's right, with a number of exceptions, but nouns need a determiner in French.
Actually, "ce" as a pronoun is not widely used outside "c'est" or "ce sont", in all tenses, modes and voices.
You can also find it with verbs pouvoir or devoir: "ce peut être", "ce doit être"
There would have to be a possessive pronoun for women to be understood as wives. Ce son leurs femmes. C'est ma femme.
"ce" is a demonstrative pronoun. It can mean "this thing" or "it": this/it is lovely = c'est joli.
"c'est" and "ce sont" are also used to mean "he/she/it is" and "they are", respectively, when "il/elle est" and "ils/elles sont" are followed by a modified noun.
A modified noun is a noun accompanied by a determiner or a number.
I have two questions: 1) I originally answered with "Elles sont des femmes" (They are women) - would this be incorrect?
2) About the articles "Ce", "Cet", "Cette" and "Ces"...If you say "Cet homme" or "Cet endroit", do you pronounce the "t"??
Here's a good article about these demonstrative adjectives: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_demonstrative.htm
1) yes, this is a rule: http://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/cest-versus-il-elle-est
2) "cet" is the variant of "ce" in front of words starting with a vowel sound, to avoid the vowel sound conflict. So this T is meant to sound T between the otherwise conflicting vowels
THANK YOU! That article was great! Following up on question #1 - Would "Elle sont des femmes" translate into "They are of women"? Or would it just sound wrong?
As you could see, the rule also applies in plural:
- they are women = ce sont des femmes (not elles sont)
"Elles sont professeurs." works because there is no determiner - no article and no adjective, just the noun by itself for a profession. The minute you have an article or adjective, "ce sont" is used. " Ce sont des femmes. " and " Ce sont des professeurs fantastiques. "
How would you know whether it is, "They are women," or, " They are wives"?
For "femme" to translate to "wife", it needs that there is an explicit family context:
- with any possessive: ma femme = my wive; our wives = nos femmes.
- with a husband around: le mari et la femme = the husband and (the) wife.
Can someone please explain to me in simple terms why isn't it Elles sont femmes.. ?? please..
The first reason is that "des femmes" is the plural of "une femme", for "des" is the plural indefinite article that English does not have, and it is required in French.
The second reason is that "elles sont des..." has to change to "ce sont des...". Please read this: http://french.about.com/library/weekly/aa032500.htm
What is actually modifiers? Is it just des? So, before a modifier, we have to use c'est/ce sont, if I'm correct.
Modifiers are the little determiners you use in front of nouns:
- articles: un, une, des, le, la, l', les
- demonstrative adjectives: ce, cet, cette, ces
- possessive adjectives: mon, ton, son, ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur, mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs.
- numbers: deux, trois, quatre...
Verb "être" = to be: je suis, tu es, il/elle est, nous sommes, vous êtes, ils/elles sont
Verb "avoir" = to have: j'ai, tu as, il/elle a, nous avons, vous avez, ils/elles ont
11 million hits for "elles sont des femmes." Maybe there's some prescriptivist rule saying that modified nouns require "ce," but that certainly doesn't seem to be a hard fast rule in the real world.
Ain't going to love you no more ....... 55 million hits.
That means it, or some variation of it, has pretty wide usage on the web.
It doesn't mean Duo should be teaching that as grammatically correct English on their English courses.
Why would you say "these are women." I mean, there isnt much point to that sentence. :-}
Generally speaking such phrases are only used to confirm to an interested party that you haven't forgotten the proper use of ce sont, femmes and especially des when used in such a phrase.
You can comfort yourself by knowing that, when speaking to aliens, it will be handy to have ready the first introduction to the notion of gender prior to moving on to how gender is applied in French grammar.
You know...Well Mr. Alien, here is how it works. These are women, these are men but that has nothing to do with how gender is applied by the French language.
The plural of "c'est" is "ce sont"; it is idiomatic and "ce" as a pronoun does not have a plural form.
"ces" is an adjective, plural of "ce, cet, cette" in front of a noun.