"Les poches des chemises"

Translation:The shirts' pockets

January 11, 2013

This discussion is locked.


Bottom line: No one says "the shirts' pockets". In 51 years as a native English speaker, I have never heard that. Not once. The correct term is "the shirt pockets".

If I'm talking to a group of men, I would say, "Look in your shirt pockets and find the transmitter I secretly put there." That would mean all the shirts, and there would be no misunderstanding that, I don't know, maybe all or several of the men were wearing the same shirt with individual pockets for each man.

Duolingo folks, you've done a great job here. I'm impressed at how well you have put together this site. But you blew it in this particular case. Please get this corrected. "The shirts' pockets" is just plain silly, even if technically correct. "Shirt pockets" really must be accepted as a correct answer.


Look at it this way. If I wanted to translate "the shirt pockets" (meaning the pockets of many shirts) into French, what would I say? Clearly, "les poches des chemises". Therefore, if I wanted to translate that identical French expression back into English, how would I do it? "The shirts' pockets"? Of course not. No one says that. I would translate it very naturally into "the shirt pockets". The fact that it has a slightly different grammatical construction than the French is utterly irrelevant. That's simply how you say it in English.


i second tis . the shirts' pockets should be acceptable too i supoose but the shirt pockets should not be marked wrong!!


You could also say "The pockets of the shirts" and Duo is Ok with this.


The shirt pockets (as in a kind of thing) = les poches de chemise

The shirt's pockets (as in this shirt right here and as opposed to the shirt's sleeves or the shirt's collar) = les poches de la chemise

The shirts' pockets (as in these shirts right here etc.) = les poches des chemises


Your example "Look in your shirt pockets and find...." is completely wrong. In that example your asking each man to look into his own shirt, therefore shirt, singular, makes sense, each man is looking through one shirt. Now if for example you asked someone to look through a bunch of shirts that are laying on a bed, each one with various pockets you would say look through the shirts' pockets.


But this is a study of learning the tenses of terms. In this case it is the pockets on plural shirts.


To be honest, I've never heard someone say "the shirt pockets". They always say "shirt's pockets".

To me, "the shirt pockets" sounds more like you were talking about a pile of pockets that aren't on shirts yet (like in a clothing factory or something)


Me too. I think it might be a regional thing?


Absolutely spot on. Reported [27th April 2015] as "the shirt pockets" is still not accepted.


Yes, I thought translating the phrase as " the shirts' pockets ' is rather odd, so I just went for " the pockets of the shirts"( and was marked right)


These robot words can be hard work...I wish they has rl speakers


Is the s supposed to sound like an s or a z?


Is supposed to sound like a z.... One s in a word is pronounced like it is a z. And two s-es, are pronounced as if it is a s....


you mean the s in chemise?


the pronunctiation is def. WRONG here


yeah, I meant the s in chemise. I get confused sometimes with the strange rules. Wasn't sure if this pronunciation was correct or not.


i definitely have noticed a lot of the audio having wrong pronunciation...i looked at an faq that some had answered and said the same thing- that a lot of the pronunciation is off....which sucks :/ but we know what's right because we are that good :p


Duo puts a pretty heavy emphasis on the s even dragging it out longer than I think most French speakers would ever do given how they pronounce every other s that Duo has presented to me.

Google Translate renders the final s in chemises as more like a short z sound.


I wanted to read this as "the shirt pockets" though the correct translation is "the shirts' pockets." Could someone explain how to correctly say the former and the differences between these two phrases in French? Merci bcp.


The shirt pockets would be "Les poches de la chemise" which uses the singular "de la" (which literally translates to 'The pocket of the shirt') instead of the plural "des" in "Les poches des chemises" (which translates to 'the pockets of the shirts')


shirt pockets is a loose compound - which is typical of non-animate part whole constructions in English. In such compounds it is impossible to pluralise the first element; think teethbrushes . It is therefore ambiguous as to how many shirts we are talking about and therefore should be acceptable as a translation of the French expression with a plural version of shirt.


You are right. Duo should accept "the shirt pockets" as a correct translation, or the more literal "the pockets of the shirts" as correct, but a poor second. I'm not sure that "the shirts' pockets" is even English!


@PaddyingoMartinRDC. You're thinking in English. French is far more specific.Especially with articles. Here it is "DES=De+Les" which specifically is more than one shirt, ie shirtS. Yes, the pockets are also plural and so in this sentence there are undeniably many pockets on many shirts. The apostrophe for a singular possessive would be "The Shirt's pockets"= many pockets of the one shirt.(Thinking in French.) I'd appreciate that in a factory "run" of many shirts for which many pockets must be made, then a manager may speak of "The shirt pockets" but this takes the subject in much the same way as "Sheep=singular+plural", "Rice=singular+plural","Human=singular+plural".and just won't work in French.if there is more than one shirt. In English, when the subject noun is plural the apostrophe follows the "S", as in "The Shirts' pockets" indicating many shirts with either a single pocket each or multiple pockets per shirt, we won't know without more context. What we do deduct is that there are many shirts. Otherwise the sentence would read: "Les poches DE LA chemise"., not "Les poches DES chemiseS" See? It's French done the French way.


Jackjon, you appear to be missing the point. The English translation ISN'T FRENCH. It's ENGLISH. Applying normative French grammar to English sentences DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

Testing understanding of French grammar, even relatively picky elements, is just fine. Expecting people to write weird or nonsensical English sentences to demonstrate French mastery is NOT just fine. "The shirt pockets" is perfect English and means pretty much exactly what the French means. "The shirts' pockets" is dicey English -- perhaps grammatically allowable, but absolutely not something the vast majority of educated English speakers would ever say.

To penalize a native English speaker for translating a French sentence into a perfectly formed and correct English sentence that carries precisely the same meaning as the French is well beyond picky. It's incorrect.

Can you imagine an English teacher demanding her French students to render an English sentence into marginal, weird French just to prove they understood some obscure point of English grammar? That would be nonsense, just as it is in this case.

I am probably coming across more strongly than I actually feel. I think Duolingo is an awesome resource and of immense value, even with this obvious (but rather small) flaw. I have nothing but gratitude toward those who have worked so hard to create such a valuable web site. I'm not angry, or peeved, or annoyed at people. But having said all that, I maintain that what's wrong is wrong, and saying that French Grammar Demands Thus-And-Such doesn't magically make incorrect (or artificial and stilted) English right.

TLDR: Bad English is bad English, regardless of what the original French might have said.


@Sbeecroft by all means push your point. Duo will continue to mark it wrong and that is my point. Please don't shoot the messenger. Take it up with Duo. I do not make these ambiguous tricky programmes. I only wish to make the differences between French and English somewhat more clear if at all possible. Apparently not so here. In this sentence "Des chemises" is plural Shirts. End Of. I suggest (and await to be corrected, Stiesurf, Remy Northernguy?) that it is you, not I who is missing the point.With respect.


@Dflermminfit. It would be: "Les poches DE LA chemise". Try to think in French. Cordial.


@Paddy. Yes. I read them carefully first time round. I only wished to draw your attention to the FRENCH. Cordial.


Regarding the response to my question given by Jackjon: "It would be: "Les poches DE LA chemise". Does anyone else want to weigh in on this? This seems like it would be only for multiple pockets on one shirt, not single pockets on many shirts, which is what I asked for.


My bad, Jackjon. I thought (or assumed) you were speaking for Duolingo, not merely explaining why the site might be acting as it does.

I understand the point you are making. Insofar as the web site goes, I expect you are correct. My only point is: Whether or not you are right about why it is scored as it is, the thinking is fundamentally flawed. The answer SHOULD be marked correct. You may be (and probably are) right about why it's marked wrong, but in any case it should not be marked wrong. That's my only point.

My apologies for making the incorrect assumption that you were speaking for or defending the Duolingo site logic rather than merely explaining it.


Les poches De La chemise=The pockets of The Shirt. Les poches DES (=De +Les) = the pockets of the shirtS


Can anyone answer how should I spot the difference between "le poche de chemise" and " les poches des chemises" ? i played the sentence for like 10 times and still couldn't understand whether it's singular or not...


Hi Misho. Presumably you were using the Audio Only app. You should hear the difference between the articles "LA poche (s/l Lah), singular, and LES poches (s/l Lay); plural. DE chemise (s/l Duh),singular, and DES chemises (s/l Day), plural. NB, Poche is feminine, La Poche not Le Poche.


I did the same thing. I think "shirt pockets" is improper grammar because it is using "shirt" as an adjective. Not sure though


Actually, it's a bit more involved than that. Sometimes nouns can be used LIKE adjectives, although they are still nouns. They are referred to as premodifiers, also called an attributive noun or noun adjunct, e.g., time management, college education, kitchen table, etc. It is a noun that acts like an adjective, e.g. Tutankamen, the boy king; a government official, etc. http://grammar.about.com/od/ab/g/Attributive-Noun.htm In this case, however, be aware that "des chemises" is plural, so it is definitely "shirts' pockets" and not "shirt pockets" and not "shirt's pockets".


@ n6zs; Ah. Someone who really knows grammar to the rescue. Thank you for sorting this tricky thing out. I so wish that I had your sound grounding of grammar. I learn so much about my own language here, let alone learning the French. Bless. JJ.


Hi, Not wanting to beat this into the ground, but I am curious to explore the finer points. From my limited knowledge of French, I know adjectives are pluralized, whereas in English there is no such thing as plural adjective. You linked to a nice article defining ‘attributive noun’ in English (which seems to apply here) which is a construction where a noun is being used like an adjective. Thus, it is not clear to me that because I see a plural “s” in the French version that it necessarily follows that the best English version would likewise be pluralized since the word in question is being used like an adjective. Among the examples of attributive nouns cited in the article are “bus stop” and “ marriage certificate”. I don’t think you’d ever see in English “buses’ stops” or “marriages’ certificates” even in cases where you were explicitly referring to multiple buses or marriages.

I tried to resolve the question via Google and could find some examples from literature going either way:

[examples of ‘shirt pockets’ clearly referring to multiple shirts] “…alike, and were all dressed like Bill Bell — black Stetson hats, blue shirts, and yellow strings from sacks of Bull Durham hanging out of their shirt pockets” from A River Runs Through It (books.google.com/books?isbn=0226500772)

“…restaurant which their host had taken them, he then reached over the table and non-chalantly put in each of their shirt pockets a packet of ten crisp $100 bills.” Behind the Eight Ball by Roy Bell (books.google.com/books?id=Bx5p_5yDIMsC)

[examples of ‘shirts’ pockets’]

“Both Outsiders pulled from their shirts' pockets two little silver metal symbols of the Outsider Religion. These they proceeded to wave in front of the helpless, ...” Record of Mutilation: The Novel By Elias Sassoon (books.google.com/books?isbn=0557175682)

It seemed to me that there were more relevant examples of “shirt pockets” than “shirts’ pockets” (I can’t just go by the number of Google hits because I’d need to through and discount the cases where only one shirt is involved etc)

So, my bottom line: you make some good points and I believe now that “shirts’ pockets” is a perfectly constructed translation of the original sentence. However, I still feel like “shirt pockets” is also a valid translation.

Again, thanks to the other posters. As someone else pointed out, one of the great things about studying another language is learning more about your own. Being formally introduced to the ‘attributive noun’ concept was great. Sorry for taking up too much of your time.


Good digging there, dflemingfit! I'll be brief. les poches des chemises is not an example of an attributive noun. But your example of saying "shirt pockets" is. And while no one will disagree with your effort to simply state the obvious, Duo simply wants the more specific answer here as we learn about the plural shirts. You will occasionally see attributive nouns used in Duo's French exercises so keep stay sharp! Have a good one!


English speakers wouldn't use the phrase, "The shirts' pockets." It's unnecessarily clumsy. I wouldn't tell a room full of people, "Raise your left hands," for another example. Saying, "Raise your left hand" is understood that I mean a plurality of hands with a single one belonging to each person.


What about blouses?


Close. Shirts=Chemises. Blouses=Chemisiers


just wonder why the mistake is still there sine it has been reported such a long time a go. Just correct it and there is no clutter.


What mistake? I hope you're not referring to the plural "Shirts" and the apostrophe?


The translation, "the shirts' pockets", is awkward...


I put: "The shirt's pockets" It was accepted saying it should be perfect if it said: "The shirts pockets" Below that it then said Another correct solution: "The shirt's pockets" What? Is this a bug, or...?


Hi Ze. There does seem to be a bug. "Des chemises" is plural. "Les Poches" is plural, and so the whole sentence, subject and object is plural. As far as my limited grammar goes, (but I don't think that I am too far off pitch) the only correct solution is "The shirts' pockets". as is written at the top of this page.


(1) "The shirts pockets" is clearly wrong. (2) "The shirts' pockets" is technically correct and a literal translation, but clunky in that few native English speakers would ever say it. (3) "The shirt pockets" is the normal way of saying the same thing in English.

Duolingo requires someone to feed it the "correct" answers, and for some reason it appears that #1 has been given as correct while #3 has not. By the length of this thread, you can tell that this has been a topic of dispute for some time now. The bottom line is that the Duolingo answer is what it is. The best you can do is likely to recognize Duolingo's limitations and not worry too much about it. Fwiw.


But, but, Sbeecroft, are you missing that French articles are specific and that Des=De Les=Of The. The sentence is all in plural and therefore the shirts are plural. So we must deduce that the pockets (plural) belong to the shirts (plural). Therefore to learn well we need to understand both French articles, Romanic specificness and correct use of the apostrophe. Don't you think? I suggest that as this is not a complete course leading to fluency it is aimed at the basics and is therefore simplified and delineated.. I looked up "Clunky" in the OED and now wonder what you mean by it. The closest definition with a reference to language is "Old Fashioned" and I'm left wondering what is old fashioned about the correct use of an apostrophe in a basic language learning course? Lastly, an apostrophe is silent so how does one "Say" an apostrophe?. With respect, it is only a written punctuation and needs be learnt.


Not quite sure what you're asking, Jackjon. I think we covered this ground a year or so ago. My position hasn't changed; "the shirts' pockets" is a clunky (cumbersome, awkward, non-intuitive) construction that is rarely used by native English speakers. If I'm talking about how I have inkstains in the pockets of all my shirts, I say, "I have inkstains in all my shirt pockets", not "shirts' pockets". The latter is not incorrect, but it's simply not how the vast majority of English speakers would ever say the phrase, except under very specific circumstances.

Please note, I grant that "the shirts' pockets" is more correct from a strictly grammatical standpoint. But Duolingo is more than strictly grammar; you're supposed to be getting a feel for how something in one language is rendered in the other. Otherwise, we would have to be saying "Good Birthday!" or "Content Année Nouvelle!", neither of which would sound right.

As for the apostrophe, if the word "shirts" is used without an apostrophe, it's wrong. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. If you're going to use the plural possessive, you have to have an apostrophe.


sbeecroft is absolutely right. Even worse is the "correct" answer I was just given: "The shirts pockets" --without an apostrophe. They have also taken away the option of reporting the mistake.


Duolingo: I'm not sure whether this has been flagged up before, but when I wrote "The shirts' pockets" I got the answer that I had a typo and it should be "The shirts pockets". Am I definitely the one with the typo? ;-)


No, you're not, ceeeowen. The apostrophe is the more correct by far, as Duo themselves have done at the top of this page.


Well shirts pockets, the only option given me, is definitely wrong, whatever you thing about the silliness of other options. ( no ‘ )


Hey! I made a typo and missed out the R in shirt's and it was marked correct, with a typo warning. He he he. Duo DOES have a sense of humour!


The point is that this is not a matter of French grammar, but of English grammar. The English example is wrong.


Actually we usually say "shirt pockets," and context tells you how many shirts. It is not a lot different from "bookcase," which is a piece of furniture that can hold one or many books in it. I think either should be counted correct, although with Duo it is safest to take the most literal choice.


Why is it "shirts' pockets" and not "the shirts' pockets"? I was marked wrong for using "the".


Hi Driftglass. (Love the name). This is a problem, post it to Post A Problem. Your answer is one of two correct solutions. Do check out the translation at the very top of this page. Lingots are no more and I don't know if they of any use now but here's hoping. Have lingots. JJ.


maybe there is no need to use this term as it is so ambiguous and this is supposed to be basic level.


It sounds so weird! I had no clue what it meant.


"The shirt's pockets". Well it is just talking about the pockets of the shirt, is that not hard to understand? I don't understand why you would need to post 75 comments about a clear sentence.


@TheC4Defuser. So why add another then? Firstly, the majority of people on this course have English as a second language and are very brave to engage with it. Secondly, your post is a glaring example of the need for enough posts to clarify the issues raised herein because you've misunderstood the task sentence yourself. The whole sentence is in plural, there are many shirts hence the position of the apostrophe in English. Yours is incorrectly placed as a result of your misunderstanding. The sentence you've translated is "Les poches DE LA CHEMISE" Rest assured that most folk now understand the intricacies of this apparently "easy" task and, now, hopefully so do you. With respect and yes I, too, make mistakes. Cordial.


it doesn't say there 'are' more than one pockets so can they fix that?


Indeed they do indicate more than one pocket: One pocket/The pocket= Une Poche/La poche. It is clearly written and said in audio Les Poches=The PocketS. (There is a "Report a Problem" facility to the left of the "Discuss", use that to ask for things to be fixed.)


The sentence speaks of more than one shirt: shirts - des chemises - which have pockets. The shirts' pockets. Believe me, I had a hissy fit when I responded with the shirt's pockets, but I was incorrect.


Look at my profile pic it deserves a person to reply about it. That is my dog in the pic


Ton chien a un oeil au beurre noir.




Il non a ..... I really need to know how to say "He doesn't have pockets on his shirt."


Il n'a pas poches sur sa chemise. Intrigued to know why you really need to know this, though. By all means tell me to mind my own business.


Just a little friendly sarcasm, trying to keep the discussion relevant. I can't believe I wrote "non a." That must be Italian or something.


Shirts pockets? Wth duolingo, how does this even happen. Btw its the shirt's pockets as the pockets are owned by the shirt, one cannot say "the shirt pockets" as this litterally means pockets that are shirts. Litterally.


Hi Alexis. This is a very tricky one and quite frankly I think is introduced either too early in the course or maybe best, not in this structure at all. The apostrophe is a whole subject in itself and in my view, used here, is an unnecessary distraction and has generated a lot of clutter. However; if we are in a factory manufacturing shirts which are to have pockets sewn in, the patches of material that will be the pocket(s) of a shirt when sewn in are, indeed The Shirt Pockets. If there is a finished shirt which has more than one pocket then they are The Shirt's Pockets. If there is more than one shirt each with multiple pockets, then they are The Shirts' Pockets. In this task both the pockets and the shirts are plural in French and so it does indeed translate to The Shirts' Pockets. You see Alexis, how tricky the apostrophe is; you've missed it in your "it's".


les poches des chemisssssssssses


Well this was curious as a listening exercise, lol.


I put this exact translation as my answer but it said almost correct ! It gave "The shirts pockets" Underneath it said another correct solution "The shirts' pockets" Now I am confused!!


Hi Jofv. Show me someone who is not confused by the apostrophe. It is a very large subject and debate continues about its correct use. Here, in this case the apostrophe is used to show "Possession" in that the pockets belong to the shirts. Because "The Shirts" here is plural, the apostrophe appears after the "S" of "Shirts". (If there was just the one shirt but still more than one pocket, then the apostrophe would appear between the "T" and the "S" of "Shirts".) American and UK English differ. Maybe the Noah Webster followers in America allow both with and without the apostrophe. It is confusing nonetheless here in the UK in that "The dog is wagging it's tail"-apostrophe used, but "The dog is eating its dinner"- No apostrophe. All clear as mud - Mississippi or Thames.


For correctly spoken standard English in any locale, the following are true 100% of the time:

  • The word it's is a contraction meaning "it is".
  • The word its is a possessive meaning "belonging to it".

That is the case in the US, and I would be willing to bet large sums of money it is also the case in the UK.

As for shirt's vs. shirts' vs. shirts, I think Jackjon has already addressed this. In brief, shirt/shirts are the singular/plural forms. The possessive of these are shirt's/shirts'. The plural shirts, the singular possessive shirt's, and the plural possessive shirts' are all pronounced exactly the same, but you can see the difference in apostrophe usage when they are written out.


Hi Sbeecroft. As a pensioner I do not have money to wager. Here are some thoughts involved in the continuing debate on the apostrophe showing that "100%" really leaves one short of full usage. This is a summary. The apostrophe is used to indicate possession And Other Forms Of Relationship between words. The apostrophe is used to form contractions as in E'en and O'er, O'Clock and 'Cos, Ma'am, Fo'c's'le etc. It is usually dropped as in Pub (which never had it in the first place) Phone, Plane, Flu and more often than not even Assn and Cos have the apostrophe dropped. (Note that a contraction of a single word is sometimes called an Elision. The loss of a letter at the end of a word is called an Acopope; if at the beginning an Aphesis and if in the middle, a Syncope.The apostrophe can be used to indicate the omission of a number or some numbers as in The '14-'18 War and it is also considered correct to omit the apostrophe here, too. The apostrophe in a name can mean The Son or Daughter Of, as in O'Leary but is not used to indicate the omission of the "A" in MacDonauld (McDonauld) eg. The apostrophe is used to indicate certain plural forms of a word without regard to its (no apostrophe used here in "its" even though it is a possessive) meaning, as in "There Are Three But's In The Sentence." (If the word "Buts" was in Italics the word would be Roman/Romanic and is sometimes omitted even here. Note also that the regularly formed plural is used when meaning is attached to it, as in "The Ayes Have It" or "There Are Eight Threes In Twenty Four." The apostrophe is usually used to form the plurals of letters,numerals and symbols as in "Mind Your P's And Q's," There Are Three 5's In 555," "He Had £'s Painted On His Face." The apostrophe is often used to avoid confusion between letters of similar appearance as in "A's" and "As". The apostrophe is also used to form plurals of abreviations and of expressions that use numerals: "Three OK's", "Several MP's" "The 1920's" however it is often omitted here too and with good reason. Consider the headline "1980's Hit". Does this refer to an attack in the decade 1980-1990 or to a chart pop record of 1980? Furthermore if an apostrophe is crudely used to form a plural, one will end up with two apostrophes when forming the possessive plural: "The MP's' votes. Best here to disregard the "Possessive Rule" and omit the apostrophe altogether. Often, and again disregarding the "Possessive Rule", the apostrophe is frequently misused in the needless insertion in the possessive adjective or possessive pronoun as in "Her's, Their's Our's AND IT'S". The correct use here is "Hers, Theirs, Ours AND ITS (no apostrophe even though this is a possessive).The apostrophe is used to indicate a possession sometimes, as in "Mary's Book." Finally (for now, while you search for your wallet?) the apostrophe is used in forming other inflections or abbreviations as when an abbreviation serves as a verb: "She OK'd The Proposal, He KO'd His Opponent, They OD'd On Drugs." Nowthen, are you still up for 100%? With respect, JJ.


Good post, Jackjon. But yes, "it's/its" is a special case, with the meanings well-established. In that particular case, there is no ambiguity.


who likes The Weeknd he is so good oml


There isnt a an option to use "les". Is this needed?


Yes, Charlie. Only in a very few contexts may the article in French be dropped.


how can you tell if 'le' is 'les', it sounds exactly the same!


Jas, "Le" s/l "Luh" and "Les" s/l "Lay".


Is that even english? :- im 12 and i know that i speak and write better than you guys


In that case, Melody, you'll know that the pronoun, first person singular, "I" is always written in higher case. The shirts' pockets has been addressed here many times. I accept that there is no context which makes the task tricky, but if you know English you'll know that the application of the apostrophe is tricky and requires thought and study. With respect, JJ.


You need a comma after "context." : )


Debatable Lulu, but accepted nonetheless. Thank you, at least you are reading the forums and giving them some thought. Bless. Lingot for your input. JJ.


my question is how to differentiate between the plural pronunciation and the singular


Sapphyre, hi. There is no way to differentiate between the pronunciation between a plural and singular noun or adjective. The trick is to listen to the article; Le, La. But in plural and with L' the noun/adjective needs to be memorised as to gender.

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