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.
Not true. I'm a seamstress. I often say "the shirts' pockets" or the equivalent for other pieces.
Ex: "I'm using this fabric for the pants and this one for the shirts' pockets." This is different from something like: "I still need to topstitch the shirt pockets."
I'm not a language expert by any means, so I can't explain it like maybe sitesurf or someone could, but I do use both and they do indicate different things.
Now, how each of those sentences translate is beyond me.
Exactly, Ken, and this sentence gets 'em going. Mostly either disagreeing with being marked down for writing "The shirt pockets" (for which the French would be Les poches DE LA Chemise, surely?) or not appreciating the use of an apostrophe, which you've explained here. In addition The Shirt Pockets (no apostrophe) to me would imply pockets not yet attached to the shirt and could be a whole mass run of thousands awaiting sewing to the shirts by the seamstresses.
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.
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.
@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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
@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.
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".
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.
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.