The man used the public address system to call for his wife. The king calls for his wife to be brought to him. The man calls for his wife to be honored. The man calls for his wife to be next in line. In all these examples he is speaking to someone other than his wife.
These are all different from The man calls his wife (on the phone etc.). Here, he is speaking to his wife.
To me, "the man calls for his wife" would seem that the man is enlisting his wife to help him with something,. "The man calls his wife" would mean just that, that the man is calling his wife, either by telephone (which would be implied to my way of thinking) or just calls her from another room.
If we can't answer "the man calls his woman" then why must we always use "MAN"? Why aren't the questions ever "the husband calls his wife" or "the husband drinks milk"? Always wives. Is this due to the duolingo system or is this the French culture in general to assume that a man calls his wife? Am I ranting?
I think Duo is using simple constructions to make some points.
Usually when you see his woman that means his wife. They want you to remember that.
The pronoun agrees with the object not the subject. Thus the pronoun becomes sa so that it agrees with femme . Because the subject is a man sa is translated as his. They want you to remember that.
It is assumed by now you are familiar with homme and femme so that they don't need reinforcing. When they wanted you to remember those words they used different phrases to get you to remember them.
What's wrong with "The man calls his woman" ?
I understand it can mean "wife" in the context but given than there is a more specific word for that (namely "épouse"), shouldn't one use the most faithful transaltion?
It's the same in Spanish, one can say "El hombre llama a su mujer" or "El hombre llama a su esposa". Or am I missing something?
Common usage in French translates "ta femme" as "your wife". Sometimes you might see "your woman" on the subtitle of some TV show or movie when the language takes a particularly low form, but we're here to learn how it is actually used, not what we would like it to be. What we are learning here is that the meaning of "femme" can change depending on the context in which it is found.
Whenever femme is connected to being the possession of someone you know it means wife. You can't own a woman in French society. However you can own the legal status of marriage to a woman. Without the status of ownership, femme simply means a woman who may or may not be married.
la femme = the woman.
sa femme = his wife.
Of course there are some subgroups that believe that sa femme can also mean her wife but that is not common nor does it accurately reflect the legal status of a wife. (in France)
I wonder then if there is a way to make the distinction without the personal pronoun. Say, for example, you wanted to refer to someone as being a good wife. You don't want to say she's a good woman in general, but specifically that she is a good woman to be married to. Or if a girl says that she wants to be a wife and mother when she grows up. What then?
Grammatically, "sa" (along with "son" and "ses") can certainly mean either his or her. However, in reality it will be understood in the context of the subject of the sentence. Here is an illustration that will hopefully make it more clear.
- Il est tombé de son cheval = he fell off his horse
- Il est tombé de son cheval à elle = he fell off her horse
- Elle est tombée de son cheval = she fell off her horse
- Elle est tombée de son cheval à lui = she fell off his horse
Exactly. In French, possessives agree with the object. The base of the possessive (mon/ton/son/notre/votre/leur) has to agree with the subject (je/tu/il/nous/vous/ils respectively), but the possesive agrees in plurality and gender with the object. Feminine: ma/ta/sa, plural: mes/tes/ses/nos/vos/leurs.
Indeed. It's been wonderfully explained exactly how and why on another comments thread. Unfortunately I don't remember which one. I recall it basically being just the same as how we are to use masculine by default in that we are to assume the pronouns are for the same subject.
No. It is incredibly robotic. The correct answer should be ...The man calls his wife.
In conventional French conversation, it is accepted that people don't possess other people. However, men and women can possess the widespread, mutual legal status called marriage. The French custom that commonly designates the wife in the relationship uses existing terminology rather than a separate term. That terminology is sa femme. Separate terms do exist, of course, but the collocation of sa and femme takes on that special usage.
One can construct a special context where sa femme could possibly mean her/his woman, but without that circumstance being evident, sa femme refers to a shared understanding of the legal relationship (real or figurative) that the man in question has to a particular woman.
Clearly, the sentence is not ....the man calls the woman...because sa does not mean the, no matter how you deal with it.
Wouldn't L'homme appelle son femme still be accepted? Or because Femme is followed, we must write sa femme since femme is a woman or his wife. But I would still think of it as possessive, son, his wife. The man is the subject at this point. Please correct me if I am wrong. Thank you.
The choice of possessive adjectives must agree with the gender (and number) of the noun. Grammatically speaking, "sa" and "son" may both be translated as either "his" or "her". So, without any other context, son livre = his/her book. However, if you said "il porte son livre", it would be understood as "he is carrying his book". If you meant that he is carrying her book, you would say "il porte son livre à elle". Otherwise, it goes like this:
- son pain = his/her bread
- sa pomme = his/her apple
- son ami/amie = his/her friend (since the noun begins with a vowel, the masculine form of the possessive adjective is used).