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  5. "L'homme appelle sa femme."

"L'homme appelle sa femme."

Translation:The man is calling his wife.

January 19, 2013

58 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zetland

Is "the man calls for his wife" a bad translation? I lost a heart for writing that, but I'm not sure if it's actually wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/c.kearney

i did the same. i believe the meaning is the same.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Starkira

Even if one of the translations (that duo does give us) for "appelle" is "(he/she/it) calls for"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

The problem is not with what the verb means. It is with what comes after.

The man is calling his wife - L'homme appelle sa femme.

The man is calling for his wife- L'homme appelle à sa femme.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mathildabee

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EthanBrown945450

Yes, it is all the same. You are still speaking in the present tense. It accepted it now, so I hope the problem was fixed.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/starwatcher

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gregkaleka

L'homme NEVER means the husband! It's le mari or l'époux.

I suppose at the base of it it's a cultural thing, but really it's a language thing. Femme means woman or wife. Homme means man, period.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piploumac

and im in total agreement with this, however how do we know its his wife and not just his woman? wheres the indicator to them being married? shouldnt wife and woman be accepted??


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/brendoncdodd

I think it's likely that the turn of phrase "his woman" doesn't have an equivalent in French. If you said "sa femme" a French speaker would likely assume you meant they were married.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/littlefredbob

So in french if i were to call my woman it would imply we are married, in a relationship, or not necessarily either?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/King2E4

It would imply that you are married (hence why "femme" translates to "wife" when it comes after possessives (my, your, his, her, and so on)). "Ma femme" will never be translated as "my woman", but rather always "my wife".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/brigids.em

@littefredbob, It gets even more awkward than that when we fall into the trap of translating slang literally.

How many people have you heard refer to a female romantic partner as their "girl"? Well, "une fille" = "a girl", but "ma fille"... means "my daughter". X-(


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2220

When there is a possessive word (e.g., L'homme appele sa femme), it will be understood as "his wife".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JerryGassi1

would anything other than wife be "maîtresse" ? perhaps there are other alternatives.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

I think Duo is using simple constructions to make some points.

  1. Usually when you see his woman that means his wife. They want you to remember that.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JewishPolyglot

I found that really helpful, thanks! Have a lingot


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tirzahbk

In English, you don't usually say "the daughter called her mother", you say "the child called her mother". It's the same in French. If we encountered a question that said, "La femme appelle son homme," I'm sure the correct answer would be, "The woman calls her husband."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/neverfox

But I take gregkaleka's point to imply that you wouldn't come across this (from a native speaker, at least). You'd come across "son mari" or "son époux."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dc.rojas1154

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2220

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zoinkezoo

Why is "femme" woman and also wife? How do I determine which to use?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

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)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zoinkezoo

Thank you so much! That definitely helps


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sarah-NC

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/koshermal

"Sa" can mean 'her', but "The man calls her wife" is wrong >_<. Does something in the grammar of this sentence require that the possession of the object is to the subject?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2220

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

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/emmaliv

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/koshermal

I know that, but that doesn't stop the wife being a third person's wife. And that third person being female.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/neverfox

Reality doesn't prevent that scenario but French has no way to distinguish it. Avoiding ambiguity requires choosing to say it a different way, e.g. "The man calls Mary's wife."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/koshermal

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AsiaRed176

I thought " appelle " was in the sense of things like Je m'appelle"; " My name is ". How is appelle " calling?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/neverfox

Think about it... « Je m'appelle » is literally "I call myself".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LEMastroddi

I mistakenly put in "The man calls the woman" instead of the right answer and I was corrected with "the man calls HIS woman". That's incredibly sexist, Duo.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/krane13

I typed, 'the man calls her woman' which is right. But right answer says, 'The man called his wife.' Now how do french people differentiate when a man is referring to his wife or saying woman in general. 1) That is wife. 2) That is woman.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paulisepic

Femme means woman unless there is a sa in front to say his wife same with homme of man, right?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2220

"Sa" (along with "son") can grammatically be either "his" or "her", but it will be understood according to the context of the sentence. With the subject of the sentence (l'homme), the "sa femme" will be understood by a francophone as "his wife.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kenishiag

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2220

No, the possessive adjective must agree with the noun. Since "femme" is feminine, we must use "sa femme". Nevertheless it will be understood within the context of the sentence (the subject is "l'homme") that "sa femme" means "his wife".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kenishiag

Okay. Thank you for clearing that up for me. And wow, your streak is on fire. Bien pour vous! ^_^


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/shamsoul

how & when to use 'sa' & "son'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2220

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).

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/shamsoul

i see. merci beaucoup!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vsaini

How to separate girlfriend, wife, partner relations?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TIMKerr5

I liked "The man is calling for his woman".... "The man is calling his wife" sounds soo boring! But I am marked 'incorrect'!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bernard_Vincent

Why is the translation "The man calls his woman" wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rxn_hxo

i did the writhe thing but it did not accept ??!?!??


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Maggie457957

The man calls to his wife?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Brendan754625

Wife is the most likely translation, however sa femme or ma femme could mean woman, daughter, niece, girlfriend, fiance, wife or any grammatically possessive for such a relationship. It's like a lot of French that's open to interpretation by context.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CalNinjjen

I can see that this answer makes perfect sense, but I still think that "woman" should be acceptable, as "homme" never translates to "husband". It would be better to notify the user in the same way they notify the user when they make a typo or miss a space.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Harrietand3

i put the man is calling his women and it was wrong. How do you tell the difference between wife and woman?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ryan32186

I typed "The man's calling his wife" vice "The man IS calling his wife"? Seriously? How is that wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Renzcoulter

In my first answer I said 'The man is calling his wife' and I got it wrong. Next I wrote, 'The man is calling FOR his wife' and Duolingo said that my initial answer is also correct!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richakochhal

Why didn't we use "est" for "is"?

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