1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "Les États-Unis sont un grand…

"Les États-Unis sont un grand pays."

Translation:The United States is a great country.

January 9, 2013



"Les États-Unis sont..." is correct in French, although in English we would usually just say 'is'.

  • 2031

"Les États-Unis" is the name of a country. It is grammatically plural in French and but it is grammatically singular in English unless you are talking about the several states which comprise it.


it is grammatically singular in English

except among extreme libertarians and the Strict Constructionists. True, in the popular press the phrase "these united states are..." had been mostly supplanted by the phrase "the united states is..." by around 1840, more than 20 years before the contest between States' Rights and Strong Central Government had been settled at the point of a bayonet; nevertheless, it is not grammatically incorrect to say "these united states are..." (just not common anymore)


In Canada, we would say 'The United States is'/'the government is'/'everyone is' because they are seen as a single entity. With 'everyone', the syllable 'one' is a clue why we use 'is', yet we say 'all are'. Another clue to the use of 'is' here is what follows the verb...it is A great country...singular. On another note, if this wasn't multiple choice, I would have assumed it was referring to size, not greatness. Is there a way to tell the difference?


"The United States is a big country" is also accepted.


Before the Civil War, the United States was often referred to in the plural. "The United States are..." "The United States have...", etc. It was more common when the Federal government was practically nonexistent. The United States ARE a confederation of sovereign states, after all.


But they're not sovereign states in the same sense as other countries at all, they are completely subject to the federal government and they can not unilaterally secede.

US politics is fascinating.

[deactivated user]

    (Yes, US history & politics is fascinating.)

    • 2031

    In your example, the emphasis is on the several states which comprise the country, the name of which is "The United States of America". If you are referring to the name of the country, "The United States (of America)" is grammatically singular in English.


    so you could say that based on that, "is/are" were close to equal until the years following the war, when "is" gained a clear advantage.


    American English typically treats collective nouns as singular rather than plural - "everyone is", not "everyone are". "The government is" never "the government are". Interesting to hear about the way British English deals with this! As the U.S. is a single nation (pays), and "grand" modifies "pays", that clause then describing "les etats-unis", I can see how this ends up with the weird disagreements. I do want to know how else this is dealt with in French!


    No it's not, it's a big country!


    Ehh. We've seen better days


    Isn't it? The s on the end of States indicates that it is plural in English. It is one country composed of a number of states which is reflected in its name. The United States (plural) of America (singular)


    It's a subtle difference, but singular /plural agreement would depend on whether you are referring to the country or the actual collection of states that make up the country.


    Most of the time when talking about the U.S., we are talking about the singular country.


    It would be nice if Duolingo picked your own country to talk about. I'm not that interested in learning how to say the us is great.


    But outside Duo, you can pick your own country (or any other) since you can now say it in French!


    Does grand mean both big and great in French? I'm confused.Is there no other synonym for great in French other than grand?


    "Grand" can mean tall, large, big, great, grand... depending on context.

    This sentence missing context, you have a choice:

    Un grand pays = a big/large country or a great country


    Meh, agree to disagree.


    Could this not translate to an important country as well as a big country or a great country?


    "Big" is about its size, not to which extend it matters to the rest of the world.


    Why can't the United States be a big country and/or a great country. I thought Grande meant big as well as great. I do think it's great because I was born here, but surely it could mean big just as well.

    Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.