Interesting explanation of the english phrase "an arm and a leg" was given to me by a tour guide. In the old days if you wanted to have a portrait painted you were charged depending on how much of your body was included. Obviously if your portrait showed your arms and legs then it cost a lot. I wonder if it has the same roots in France?
Salut. Well, I heard that in some Middle Eastern countries, if you take something you can't quite afford (steal), it will cost you an arm and a leg...or a hand, two hands, a head...sigh.
Not sure about Middle East, maybe cars are cheaper there and cost you only a hand, but in this French saying we talk about arm <=> bras, not hand <=> main. Still, this car is cheaper in French compared to English, just an arm, not an arm and a leg...
Woah. Cool. Did not know that! My class were taught what it meant, not where it came from.
But the noun here is car, not a portrait..... Does it still mean the same?
It is just an expression to say that something (anything) is extremely expensive. The opposite expression is "trois fois rien" (literally "three times nothing"). It is translated with similar colorful expressions in English: small potatoes, next to nothing, peanuts, dirt cheap, no big deal, etc.
Don't even ask what it costs in Spanish!
Not to be too delicate, most men have two of them and aren't keen to lose one.
The correct Spanish idiom is Me costó un ojo de la cara — "It cost an eye out of my face".
You can make vulgar versions: Me costó un huevo — "It cost me one ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤". For extra comic effect one can add ...y la mitad del otro — "... and half of the other one".
Definitely in french we would say more "Ça coûte les yeux de la tête· Like in spanish or italian or portuguese..... Coûte un bras, I have never heard, sorry....
I believe they have the same idiom in French. Les yeux de la tête or something. Not too sure
almost the same in italian: costa un occhio della testa it costs one head's eye
In Brazil, it also costs the eyeballs from the face or we say that we're being stabbing by a sharp knife.
as far as i know as a year 9 (English 9th grade) french student, this should be the phrase in french as well, but that may just be my brain making stuff up
Not so. Actually, it would be quite close to French: "it would cost me a kopeck" ("обойдется в копеечку")
Because it's an idiom, meaning an expression whose generally understood meaning is different from its literal meaning. They generally don't translate literally, unless the other language happens to share the same idiom. Instead, you pick a saying in the target language with the same meaning and a similar flavour. In this case, the saying in English is "costs an arm and a leg," which likely has the same origin.
This is an idiom which does not mention "une jambe" in the French version.
Maybe you can explain this to me in a personal message so as to not get yourself in "trouble"? =p
... la peau des fesses / ... la peau du cul
of course, this is just for you to understand it when you hear it, not for you to actually use it! ;-)
I've heard also "ça coûte les yeux de la tête". Do French people still use that one too?
It means that the thing costs a lot more than what you are prepared to pay for it (as if you had to give one of your arms).
For anyone confused, Citroën is the name of a French car manufacturer.
The English idiom is in the past tense no? 'Cost' an arm and a leg. At least it can be. I know the French is technically in the present tense, but it added the idiomatic 'and a leg' in English. I say Ouch!
Actually I've rarely heard the English version as anything but "cost" so that's what I used and there went my last heart.
To include future tense, as well: "I'm buying that car even though it will cost an arm and a leg."
No, "costs" is singular present. In preterit, no 's' at the end for 3rd person singular.
'Cost' would imply the car has already been bought, costs implies the car is for sale. I note that the hover hint for 'coute' is "cost an arm and a leg' but using this was marked wrong...
I came on here for this exact reason. Can someone clarify that it can only mean a car that hasn't been bought?
"costs" is the present, so it just means that it is something expensive (either you want to buy it, or you already own it: it does not change the fact that it is expensive).
"This car costs" is present tense. Past version will b "this car costed" . "this car cost" is wrong usage in english because car is singular so its verb will take an 's' at the end. In plural case it will be "these cars cost" (present) and " these cars costed" (past).
"to cost" is an irregular verb.
- present: it costs
- preterit: it cost
- present perfect: it has cost
Your present examples are OK but I'm pretty sure that "costed" doesn't exist in English and that the past for to cost is always cost.
e.g. PAST SIMPLE "this car cost me £1000" PAST PERFECT "this car had cost me £1000"
I see you go on and on about being true to the idiom. In English, it is predominantly "cost".
Even an idiom can still vary to reflect tense. "Have you bought that car you wanted yet?" "No, it costs an arm and a leg." You're probably more likely to USE the idiom to talk about something you've already bought, and thus use the past tense, but that doesn't mean it doesn't make sense in the present.
you can substitute "voiture" for other words and still is an idiom or this idiom itself only works with the word voiture?
coûte is the conjugated form of:
- 1st person (sing.) of indicative present
- 3rd person (sing.) of indicative present
- 1st person (sing.) of subjunctive present
- 3rd person (sing.) of subjunctive present
- 2nd person (sing.) of imperative present
In this sentence it's 3rd person (sing.) of indicative present.
Now i wonder if the french also say they'd give their right arm for this and that :)
C'est toujours le bras droit en anglais. I guess our left arm has no value in English. :(
This car costs an arm should be accepted. It's literal but it's still correct.
But, it would not be correct to say to an English speaker. They would think you would left off the other part of the expression
What exactly does it mean? That it was very expensive, but does worth it, or that it is simply too expensive?
Just that it's very expensive (there is no idea about being worth it or not).
Does the English sentence have a different meaning (being worth it)? I thought it was the same as in French.
"My Mercedes cost me an arm and a leg, but it was worth every penny." OR: "I paid an arm and a leg for that car, but it wasn't worth a toenail." No value in the expression itself, as you see.
"This car cost an arm and a leg" should be accepted. Past singular - the correct IDIOMATIC translation.
No, because the French tense is simple present and nothing would be wrong with a present in English as well.
Except, as I said, this is idiom - it is invariably used after you have been put in a position of buying something expensive or over-priced. "Did you buy a new car?" "Yeah, and it cost an arm and a leg". It may be used before the event, but would much more commonly be used after being stiffed.
At the risk of being downvoted or pelted with negative lingots (if there were negative lingots), I'm going to join in here. I couldn't understand why this question kept popping up despite the excellent explanations given by Sitesurf, jrikhal, and Remy:
Third person singular present coûte = costs
The idiom in English is "to cost an arm and a leg."
It can occur in the future: [I'll think of an example, but it will cost you an arm and a leg.]
It can occur in the past: [Did you buy that? I did, and it cost me an arm and a leg.]
It can occur in the present: [It costs me an arm and a leg every time I have to feed the troll to cross the bridge.]
In English, the cluster -sts- as in "costs" is quite challenging to pronounce and very difficult to differentiate from -st as in "cost." Ask any of us to say it in isolation and it's easy: It C O S T S vs. It C O S T. But listen to someone say the words in real conversation: It costs a lot of lingots vs. It cost a lot of lingots. No difference, right?
It doesn't matter. What we're looking at here is the way things are written (which may or may not be exactly what they sound like in rapid speech).
I believe that is the source of the confusion. Now fire away.
No worries. No reason to feel defensive at all, discussion is good. But, to quote you "What we're looking at here is the way things are written ":
But this isn't what the community guides say (point 1): http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Immersion_Community_Guidelines_(Unofficial)
Now, obviously, that refers to Immersion, but it is eminently sensible. I'm in the mid range of the French tree and am getting increasingly bemused by some of the very poor English caused by excessive literalism, so it's lucky I'm learning in the other direction (and this isn't a US vs UK thing - that doesn't bother me). I should be clear in that by "poor" I mean English that no native speaker would use.
But in this idiom lesson specifically, I'd suggest the immersion guides are massively useful. - I've seen the French equivalent of "It's raining cats and dogs" in it and, although I don't have it to hand. it certainly isn't "Il pleut des chats et des chiens".
I get the literal translation of this example, I really do, but to me we should be exploring the idiomatic translation in this lesson. There's a difference between being difficult and challenging (which is good) and being fussy and pedantic which, when it comes to idiom, borders on the useless.
If I were to suggest to Duo to put "Pull the other leg, it's has bells on" into this lesson, I wouldn't expect it to be translated as "Tirez l'autre jambe il a des cloches", but the French equivalent of "Who are you trying to kid?" or "Do I look like a rube?" or whatever. I'm not saying 'costs' is wrong - simple that 'cost' is also acceptable as a result of common usage in idiomatic English. Any other approach would, logically, demand that the "legs" get added to the French version since one can't be only half virgin - but that would be silly.
I've seen a few discussions about correct French translation, which I am not even close to being qualified to comment on (but which I enjoy greatly). But on English usage I'm pretty damned comfortable - and "right" is surprisingly rarely synonymous with "literal". (Pardon the adverb rash there - I will sacrifice something at Mark Twain's graveside by way of atonement.)
Bloody hell - that went on a bit. All over a single word. No wonder there's trouble in Ukraine.
There's a difference between fixed aspects of an idiom and variable aspects. In this case, the fixed aspect is the adverbial [an arm and a leg] and the preferred verb [to cost]. You can use other verbs ("it's worth an arm and a leg", "I paid an arm and a leg", "he charged an arm and a leg"). And you must inflect those verbs with the correct tense.
They should specify whether they want the literal translation or the figurative.
The translation is wrong. What that really means is "That car costs an arm". The real way to say it is: "Cette voiture coûte un bras et jambe".
The sentence in this exercise is incomplete, it reads "This car will cost you an arm" the sentence in French is missing "And a leg".
It replaces an 's' that was there in old French: "couster" has become "coûter"
Arianna, it's just like Sitesurf explained. An example that is easy for English speakers to remember is the French word «hôtel» was once spelled «hostel»; it is also where English gets the words "hotel" and "hostel"! :~D Also remember that the French delicacy «pâte» was once just "paste". ;-)
So it literally says it costs an arm. Not and a leg. Shouldn't an arm alone be correct?
So, since this only applies to the present tense, how can we use this sentiment in the past tense in French? Is there another idiom that applies or are we supposed to change the tense of the verb coûter? There has been a lot of complaining about it one way or another but no one has answered this question as far as I can see.
Any tense could do.
"cette voiture m'a coûté un bras" = that car cost me an arm and a leg
"cette voiture m'aurait coûté un bras" = that car would have cost me an arm and a leg
I think in case of proverbs, the literal translation should also be accepted. Leg isn't anywhere shown in the English version.
Its is saying that something is so expensive that you will need to sell you arm and your leg to be able to afford it. Also, interesting note, the french version just talks about an arm, not both an arm and a leg.
I want to know what's the matter with this sentence? I have translated into English, That car costs an arm and a leg and you, Duo has considered it completely wrong. I've changed the position of the word in the sentence and even so, it continues wrong. What's up my friend?
Unfortunately, I can't tell you because I checked this and "that car costs an arm and a leg" is an accepted translation.
No, the point of translating an idiom is not to translate it literally, but to translate it idiomatically. You would struggle to get the answers correct in this section if you try to translate the phrases word-for-word... "An idiom is an expression whose meaning cannot be directly derived from the meanings of the words it contains". So in the 'proverbs and idioms' section of duolingo, the correct answers will be the phrases that are accepted, used and understood in the native speaker's language. In France the saying doesn't refer to a leg (in this example) and in English speaking countries, it does. Each language has it's own version of the phrase and that's what will be accepted as being correct.
Just by reasons of information and curiosity, in Portuguese I know three kinds of idioms that would convey the same meaning, taking advantage of the sentence above: Esse carro custa os olhos da cara or Esse carro é uma facada or also Esse carro está bastante salgado, which could be translated word-by-word so: That car costs the eyes of the face/ That car costs a stab (I love that one 'cause it sounds like you unavoidably should be stabbed if you really mean to get it, I use it a lot )/ That car tastes salty (It's weird because it's like everybody hates salty food. Let me know if I made any mistake. Brasilian Portuguese native speaker