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"Are they the children of the men and women?"

January 14, 2013



I have a question about the use of "les" and "des" in this sentence. The sentence is "the children" "the men" "the women" yet the french translation switches between les (the, definite article) and des (indefinite article). Can anyone explain why?


Use of les/des can get tricky and there are different meanings depending on context. In this sentence "des" means "of the" (de les). So you could literally translate it as "Are they the children of the men and of the women?"

Hope that helps some!


If you were to say de les instead of des would that still be correct?


de + les = des -- so I believe the "de les" is not correct. In the singular, de + le = du and de + la = de la (no change).

So, depending on context, "des" can be literally "of the..." or more generally mean "some", etc. In school, it helped me to think of this literally, e.g. "Donne moi des pommes" would be, in my mind, "Give me [some number] of the apples," or more simply "Give me some apples."


thanks this was very helpful!


Why can I say "Est-ce que ce sont les enfants..." and "Sont-ils les enfants..." but not "Est-ce qu'ils sont les enfants..."?


I think "Est-ce qu'ils sont les enfants..." is grammatically correct. maybe they just didn't put it on the list of possible answers..


Question: Are they the children of the men and women?

Correct solutions: 1. Sont-ce les enfants des hommes et des femmes 2. Sont-ils les enfants des hommes et des femmes ?

I understand second solution but can someone please explain me what "ce" means? If "sont-ils" means "are they" (masculine) than I supose that "sont-ce" should be "are they" (feminine). Am I right? And why is there ce and not elles? Is that some short version of "elles" or something?


ce is kinda like "this" "that" or "those" a word a kid would say while pointing to something if they didn't know the word...


not to say that it's a kid word.. i just don't know the fancy grammatical term for words like this or that


I was debating whether to put "des" in front of women! So close. Wait, what if the children were all girls? Sont-elles des enfants des hommes et des femmes? Ummm much safer to use des.


same thing here, i put "Sont-ils les enfants des hommes et femmes?", so it's definetely not correct without "des" in front of "femmes" ?


As far as I know it is permitted to use "Ils sont [...] ?" instead of "Sont-ils [...] ?".

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