Translation:Even the children would have been better than I was!
The full sentence, with such a comparison, would be:
Even the children would have been better than I (am/was/have been).
In other words, "I" would be the subject of the missing verb and since the 1st verb is "to be/être", there is no room for an object.
By that logic wouldn't the french sentence be...
Même les enfants auraient été meilleurs que je (suis/étais/ai été).
"Je" would be the subject of the missing verb and since the 1st verb is "être", there is no room for an object.
But the original sentence is "... que moi", and as far I as know moi is strictly an object pronoun.
The French logic is another story.
"moi" is a stressed (disjunctive) pronoun that is used in a number of cases like:
- multiple subject: moi et lui partons pour Paris
- short questions and answers: c'est toi ? non, toi et moi.
- after prepositions: il vient avec moi, pour moi, sans moi...
- in comparisons: il est plus grand que moi
In other words, the "je" form is used as a single subject, exclusively.
Thanks for the info on the french usage. I have come across some information that has cleared my confusion of the English usage.
Ken Wilson, The Columbia Guide to Standard American English (3):
"Than is both a subordinating conjunction, as in She is wiser than I am, and a preposition, as in She is wiser than me.... Since the following verb am is often dropped or “understood,” we regularly hear than I and than me. Some commentators believe that the conjunction is currently more frequent than the preposition, but both are unquestionably Standard."
Wiktionary usage note on "I":
"Using I in the objective case (e.g.: It is I.; Only I.; You're taller than I.) is considered too formal for almost all context, especially in British English."
It appears either way is correct.
I would like to caution people that "than" is a special case. Words that are strictly prepositions will call for the object pronoun.
Very interesting, thanks. Both versions are accepted for good reasons, then! ;-)
Here tho is a discussion of "THAN" and whether it is a preposition or a conjunction. Collins is quoted as saying it is always both. Dictionaries differ. IF it's a preposition, then "me" is the correct English to use. I know in America, you will hear "better than me" most often. Usage in common speech puts it at "me" and a preposition to my ear. In writing English, one may by some dictionaries have a choice and are likely to be corrected in an English course. USUALLY in a grammar class of the past, "better than I" is the goal. That may not be true in the present according to some dictionaries.
It does seem that by some lights, both are now correct if you believe this Washington Post article. I like the Wash Post lately although the polls have been tragically off now and then. It is true too that 95 people in room can agree and the ONE or five persons standing against them can be right. "Better than I" has a civilizing influence requiring a person to think not of the object of comparison but the subject of being a self in action rather than being an object of comparison. Perhaps we have a choice now. I don't know.
Sitesurf: Here is a good explanation of "me" or "I": "Many educated English speakers prefer to use the nominative plus a verb rather than the accusative in such comparative sentences, especially in formal situations. They say, for example, My sister is taller than I am. or She ran more quickly than I did. The alternative, omitting the verb as in the following examples, is considered to be even more formal and is avoided by most British English speakers: My sister is taller than I. or She ran more quickly than I." Source: http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/rules/comp.htm
Not really. The verb "was" is understood. Better than I was, therefore subject. it is confusing because of the understood predicate, and certainly me is often used, though technically it is incorrect.
How would one say, "even children" rather than "even the children"? I put "even children" and was marked wrong.
"even children" is the plural of "even a child", so "même des enfants" is the plural of "même un enfant"
In French, you use the definite article in a whole lot of places where you wouldn't in English. I think "Even children would have been better than me." is a perfectly acceptable translation as long as it refers to children in general, not a defined set of children and not some children. It's like, for instance, "Children like to play." It means most children do, probably even all of them. And in French, I'd say "Les enfants aiment jouer." to mean the same thing.
You know... I don't really get it. Are you saying that "des enfants" can't be translated as "some children"? And are you saying that "les enfants" must be specific children, rather than children in general? Thanks.
Les enfants can mean either specific children or children in general. Des enfants always means some children, although you don't always add some, sometimes you just say children.
The thing that makes it a bit difficult is that there are three forms in English (the children, some children, children), while only two in French (les enfants, des enfants). Children, without an article, can mean either children in general (in which case, the French equivalent is les enfants) or some children (in this case, you say des enfants in French).
There are alternatives, though, and in both languages, when it comes to general statements:
- n'importe quel enfant aurait été meilleur que moi = any child would have been better than me.
Besides, some children = certains enfants: this limits their number and does not apply to a general statement.
The original sentence was written in French with "même les enfants seraient meilleurs que moi". This should translate to "even the children would be better than me", as specific children (mine, yours, pupils in class...).
This sentence is comparing what specific children can do with what I can do, so a specific subject with a specific subject. Besides, the presence of "même" implies a third party: other people like me (adults).
So you have to understand that:
- I am not good at what I'm doing,
- implicitly: I am not doing as well as other people (adults)
- I am doing so badly vs average people that even the (my) children would do better.
Variants from Fr to En:
- même un enfant serait meilleur que moi = even a child would be better than I (any randomly chosen child)
- même des enfants seraient meilleurs que moi = even children would be better than I (more than one)
- même certains enfants seraient meilleurs que moi = even some children would be better than I (a few, randomly chosen children)
I was just reacting to your statement that there are 3 forms in English and only 2 in French. If you mention "some children" as a 3rd possibility in English, learners have to know that this back translates to "certains enfants".
When it comes to definite and indefinite articles per se, in plural there is one in English "the" and two in French "les" and "des".
Every word of this comment is right, but I didn't want to make it even more difficult for him. Until you clearly understand the difference between du/de la/des/de and le/la/les, it's counterproductive to start on n'importe, certains, quelques and the rest.
In short, the question is whether ""Même les enfants auraient été meilleurs que moi !" could be translated as "Even children would have been better than I."
I said yes, but I'm still not sure whether you (sitesurf) are saying yes or not. It seems to me that we don't know whether the person speaking is talking about certain children or just generally children.
You didn't say yes or no and I'm not sure what your opinion is.
Ok, sitesurf, thanks. (The original french isn't "feraient mieux que" but it's "auraient été meilleurs que," but I assume that that makes no difference.
You're saying that it can't be children in general. It has to be specific children. Got it.
I have a Ph. D. in English, 40 years of teaching experience, and a decent publication record. "Even the children would have been better than I" is idiomatic in English and should be accepted. (". . . I was" is also correct and idiomatic, but the verb "was" is often omitted.)
I wonder if "Even the children would have been better then me!" - be considered an acceptable, alternate translation.
Brilliant. Eyes like a hawk! :) Of course it's "better THAN me". If I am not careful, this anglophone will soon need to join a special DuoLingo English for English speakers course.
An "English for whoever"might be useful before anyone takes this French course... ;-)
Sitesurf, I have a question related question: Plus que vingts ans, j'ai vu un film "Au Revoir Les Enfants." Ce film est sur un professeur et ses élèves. C'était un bon film. As I recall, "Au Revoir Les Enfants" was also a line in the film spoken by the teacher to the students. The title translates word-for-word as "Goodbye the children." An English translation would more likely be "Goodbye, children" or possibly "Goodbye my children." Is "au revoir les enfants" a literary usage, or is this how a teacher really would say goodbye to his students?
Il y a plus de vingt ans
"aurevoir, les enfants !" is the usual way of addressing a group and indeed the translation for "goodbye, children!".
"mes enfants" is more affectionate, as you would imagine.
In any event, this is a very common formula, which can also vary with all types of greetings and groups:
- salut, la compagnie !
- bonjour, les filles !
- à demain, les gars !
- joyeux Noël, la famille !
Yes, on two conditions: if you are fluent in another language and if Duo offers an English course for the speakers of this other language of yours.
Shouldn't it be: ""Même les enfants auraient été mieux que moi !" since "meilleur" is used to describe "states of being" while "mieux" is used to describe "actions", and "etre" is a verb (i.e. action)? Where is my logic failing?
The adjective "meilleur(e)(s)" is the comparative of "bon(s), bonne(s)" and the adverb "mieux" the comparative of "bien".
You could say that "les enfants auraient été mieux" as the comparative of "les enfants auraient été bien", but the meaning is different: "être bien" is "to feel comfortable".
I'm referring to oh so many comments back! I think that it was Steve who talked about the predicate: "It is I" or "It is he/she". Technically this is correct, as many have already said. "It is me." has become accepted, in the UK and Ireland, almost as a colloquialism because of the perceived awkward sound of "It is I."
In the US, conversely, "It is he." or "It is she." seem generally to be more accepted as ways of answering the telephone, for example, than in The British Isles.