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"Ils parlent des canards verts."

Translation:They talk about the green ducks.

January 9, 2013



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.


You are always so helpful!!!!


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)


Thank you so much; you have made this much clearer.


I wanted to give you a lingot for this answer, but I don't have that option anymore.


Don't worry, I have plenty.


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?


Because it's supposed to say "they talk of the green ducks"


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!


Apparently 'They speak of the green ducks" is wrong. Um... why?


It probably just wasn't programmed as an acceptable answer.


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"


My opinion:

  • 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)

http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/de-vs-du-de-la-des_3.htm http://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais?query=ils+parlent+desource=french


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).


Ils parlent means either 'they talk' or 'they are talking'


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.


how can you tell that des is les+de and when not?


"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)


Why not "some" green ducks ?


Because these ducks are specific:

  • ils parlent des canards verts has "des" contracted from "de + les" = of the


So des here is not an indefinite article, but a contraction.


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.


Why is, "They're talking about green ducks," incorrect? Is it because I left out "the" prior to "ducks"?


Please read the explanations already given on this page.

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