Why is "they speak of green ducks" wrong here if they used "des" instead of "les"?
Maybe we can replace this sentence in context, to really understand what is meant and how it translates in one or the other language, keeping in mind that "talk about" and "parler de" both have an indirect object but with a different preposition:
What are they talking about? / De quoi parlent-ils ?
1)They talk about green ducks and migration / Ils parlent de canards verts et de migration (fem).
2)They talk about the green ducks swimming on the pond and of their forthcoming migration / Ils parlent des (contraction de+les= about the) canards verts qui nagent sur la mare et de leur migration à venir.
The key difference between 1) and 2) is about how specific the information is, in both languages.
3) They talk about a green duck / Ils parlent d'un canard vert
4) They talk about the green duck / Ils parlent du (contraction de+le) canard vert
Now, if we change the verb for one with a direct object, you get back to the basics you already know:
5) They see a green duck / ils voient un canard vert
6) They see green ducks / ils voient des canards verts (des = plural of "un")
7) They eat roasted duck / ils mangent du canard rôti (partitive de+ le = some)
8) They love green ducks / ils adorent les canards verts (appreciation verbs introduce generalities, to be constructed with definite article le/la/les).
But even like that wouldn't it be right to be: Ils parlent des canards verts - They talk about green ducks(des = plural of "un") ?
I think I already explained that earlier. I will be more didactic this time:
they talk about ... = ils parlent de...
they talk about the... = ils parlent de // le/la/les... :
they talk about the house = ils parlent de la maison
they talk about the duck = ils parlent du (=de+le) canard
they talk about the ducks = ils parlent des (=de+les) canards
they talk about a/one duck = ils parlent d'un (=de+un) canard
they talk about ducks (= more than one) = ils parlent de (=de [+des]) canards
In the latter case, the theory is that you should have preposition "de" + plural definite article "des", but de des is simplified to "de" (preposition prevails)
Thank you, that's very descriptive! Now I will just have to accept the fact that de+des=de! :)
I hope you work as translator, teacher or a diplomat or something within this proximity, because your posts/answers are always wonderfully helpful - and thus you are an amazing translator, teacher and a diplomat.
Thank-you so much for your detailed assistance. I am stumped however with:
IF, as you pointed out, "…about THE house" = "...de LA maison" vs "…about A house" = "…d'UNE maison" [de +la]
THEN: "…about the houses" = "…DES [de les] maisons" vs "…about ]plural] houses [specific i.e. houses in New York"what would that be? They same thing, yes? Thank-you for your efforts to help clarify all this.
he speaks about houses in New York = il parle de maisons à New York (plural of "d'une maison" = of a/one house)
he speaks about the houses in New York = il parle des maisons à New York (des = de+les = about the)
If "des" = "de les," then why would about ducks be "de des"? De de les? I'm skeptical that "des" is a contraction here. The lesson on the site glossed it as "some" in the context of eating "some" strawberries or having "some" dresses. If it's a contraction, they should have said so, and it should have been taught that way, in that context, and with that explanation. Based on how they've taught this word so far, this construction should work. If it doesn't, they haven't effectively taught the word.
"des" is indeed a contraction because the verb is constructed with preposition "de".
"manger" and "avoir" do not need preposition "de".
So in your examples: je mange des fraises is just the plural of je mange une fraise and j'ai des robes the plural of j'ai des robes.
if you change the verb for "parler de", this is what you get:
- je parle d'une fraise - je parle de fraises = contraction of de+des
- je parle de la fraise - je parle des fraises = contraction of de+les
This is an excellent explanation, but I'm a bit unclear on the difference between direct and indirect objects.
My understanding is that the noun that is being acted upon by the subject is a direct object. The noun being referenced in relation to the direct object is the indirect object.
So isn't the green duck the direct object in all of the above sentences? An example of an indirect object would be "wall" in this sentence: They talk about the green ducks behind the wall.
An indirect object requires a preposition, a direct object does not.
I like ducks - ducks is a direct object
I talk about ducks - ducks is indirectly linked to the verb by "about"
EDIT 01/20: "behind the wall" in your example is neither direct nor indirect object, but a "complément circonstanciel de lieu" (adverbial phrase of place).
Adverbial phrases can be of time, place, manner.
The program has a number of errors, so the person preparing this exercise does not know French well. Your answer is correct!
There might be some errors in the program but this sentence is perfectly correct, as you could tell if you read the answers already given in the past 5 years.
Ok, so when it was about dresses, I had to write the article "THE". Now its about ducks, I have to write "Some". Why the difference?
First question I had was "Elle parles des robes verts" and I wrote "She is talking about green dresses" which was wrong as it expected me to say "She is talking about "THE" green dresses" So, learning my lesson, When "Ils parlent des canards verts" came up, I write "they are talking about THE green ducks" which is apparently wrong now! Can someone please clarify what is happening here?
If "des canards" is supposed to be "the ducks", then how come in a previous question "des filles" was translated as just "girls"? Very confusing...
In this sentence, "des canards" is "about the ducks" not "the ducks".
For details, please read above.
I know that, but in the "des filles" one, it was also "about", but it was translated as "about girls" and not "about the girls". I was just wondering why in an identical sentence for ducks and girls, one was "about the" and one was just "about"...
Ah, I see further down you said it was a duolingo error to translate des filles as about girls instead of about the girls. So as long as both ducks and girls work the same way no need for confusion. Nevermind!
I know DL doesn't accept it but I'm still curious if both is correct? "They talk about green ducks" and "They talk about the green ducks"
- Ils parlent des canards verts = They talk about the green ducks
- Ils parlent de canards verts = The talk about green ducks
Wouldn't it still need to be "des" for the plural (ducks)? I thought "des/de/du" was used in the absence of an article (the/a/an). What am I misunderstanding?
I'm not good at explaining grammar, sorry. Here's my attempt and three relevant links. The first one might be the best link. "des canards" = specific ducks. "de canards" = unspecific ducks.
Indefinite articles in English, in singular and plural:
- They talk about a duck.
- They talk about ducks. (English doesn't have an indefinite article for plural)
Definite articles in English, in singular and plural:
- They talk about the duck.
- They talk about the ducks.
Indefinite articles in French, in singular and plural:
- Ils parlent d'un canard. (d'un = de un)
- Ils parlent de canards. (des is the usual indefinite article for plural, but not in this case as the verb is "parler de")
Definite articles in French, in singular and plural:
- Ils parlent du canard. (du = de le)
- Ils parlent des canards. (des = de les)
In the listening excercise, it accepts "il parle des canards verts"! How very strange, I had expected to lose a heart :-) I imagine this is because "il parle" and "ils parlent" are indistinguishable by sound alone, although the presence of "des canards" should have veto'd the use of the singular.
Subject and object are distinct: both "il parle" and "ils parlent" can have a plural or singular object (du canard or des canards).
If the correct translation is "They talk about green ducks" then why did I get it correct by typing "Il parle...." Isn't this "he talks..."
If given the audio, there is no difference between "il parle" and "ils parlent" in this particular sentence. Both should be accepted.
I'm really confused by this one. A similar sentence ("Vous parlez des filles.") translated by Duolingo as "You talk about girls" (no "the" necessary).
What is the difference between "Ils parlent des canards verts" and "Vous parlez des filles" that makes one a discussion of something specific, and the other about something general?
vous parlez des filles (contraction de + les) = you talk about the girls
vous parlez de filles (should be de + des, but only "de" is kept) = you talk about girls - as the plural of vous parlez d'une fille = you talk about a girl
So was it an error for Duolingo to list "You talk about girls" as a translation for "Vous parlez des filles"?
I am getting sick of these types of questions. If I use 'the' then it marks it correct but says another translation would be without using 'the' but when I decide to not use 'the' then it marks it wrong! I wish duolingo would just decide what it wants!
It is not for Duolingo to decide what it wants, it is for you to admit that you cannot translate from English to French or vice-versa on a word for word basis, but by first understanding the meaning of the sentence, then applying the rules.
If you read the thorough explanations already posted on this page, you will understand then solve your problem.
"le + des" will never happen (it would be like "the some")
"de + les" has to contract to "des" whenever the preposition "de" has to be followed by the plural definite article "les".
It happens mainly in 2 cases:
When the verb is constructed with an indirect object introduced by preposition "de", like "parler de" (speak of/about) or "dependre de" (depend on):
- je parle des (de+les) canards (I am talking about the ducks)
- cela dépend des (de+les) circonstances (it depends on the circumstances)
With expressions of possession:
- les chiens des (de+les) garçons (lit. the dogs of the boys)
- les branches des (de+les) arbres (lit. the branches of the trees)
Because these ducks are specific:
- ils parlent des canards verts has "des" contracted from "de + les" = of the
Its exact nature is "article défini contracté" = contracted definite article.
The others are "du" (when it si not a partitive article), "au" (à+le) and "aux" (à+les).
Replace this sentence, there is no 'les' therefore no need to need to use 'the' in the translation
Since this sentence has been on the course for 5 years, you might have wondered how "des" can translate to "the". You would then have read the whole thread and found out that this "des" is not the plural of "un/une" but the contraction of "de+les", because "to talk about/of" translates to "parler de". Therefore "parler des canards" translates to "talk about the ducks".
I get the ducks part (I read the thread) but why is 'are talking about' marked as wrong?
They are talking about is the same as they talk about isnt it? Why is it wrong?
Thank you Sitesurf for trying to explain the inexplicable. It's just one of those situations when I just accept "it is because it is". But it would be nice if Duolingo used more context in the learning sentences.
This is a purely grammatical exercise which does not need any more context. However, the system is based on sentences and the number of signs is limited.
What would you say in french if you were just talking about green ducks in general and not 'the' green ducks?
de canards verts
See my post earlier in this stream, or go to this link and see the comment made by litchi:
"Stop the clutter! Please do not report mistakes here and read the comments below before posting" The report button isn't working, so I can't report mistakes anywhere else. This is the 3rd time that a 'des' phrase has insisted on the article 'the' in the answer.
Please do not report mistakes that are not mistakes. Please read the comments above and you will know why "des" can tranlate to "about the" and vice-versa.
your explanations are grand, but your patience and ongoing support is nothing short of amazing. ~blessings!
"Ils parlent aux canards verts"
"aux" is the contraction of the preposition "à" + the definite article "les".
Yes, there is but it is contracted with "de" which belongs to "parler de": parler de + les = parler des.
How are we supposed to decipher if the subject is "il" or "ils" from the audio alone? From the audio it sounds just like "il parle des canards verts" or "he talks about the green ducks"
You can't distinguish "il parle" from "ils parlent" as they sound alike.
This is absûrd. Please learn english. The "the" is NOT typically used
there is a difference between "they talk about green ducks" and "they talk about THE green ducks". In the former, we only know that there is more than one duck; in the latter, we know that they talk about specific ducks. That is the role of definite article "the".
- ils parlent de canards verts = about green ducks (of + plural)
- ils parlent des (contaction of "de+les" = of/about the) canards verts.
this has already been explained a number of times on this page alone, so you should read threads before posting an already solved problem.
at last, since you are learning French, you have to know what is typically used in French.