1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "Elle est la seule qui ait un…

"Elle est la seule qui ait une voiture."

Translation:She is the only one who has a car.

January 20, 2013



why is the subjonctif used here? thanks!


Well, it's one of the many cases where you have to use the subjonctive :) When the antecedent is preceded by a superlative, the verb is in the subjunctive ("le seul", "l'unique", "le premier", "le dernier", "le meilleur", ...)


Sorry, but 'When the antecedent is preceded by a superlative...' is as alien to me as the language I am trying to learn. Antecedent to what precisely? More pressingly, is there a reason why Hints and Tips has dried up lately? Is it because this end of tree assumes that we have some grounding in grammar? Please understand that I don't. Although I have learnt a remarkable amount from earlier in the tree, the basic structures of language still remain largely mystical to me. But a wee succinct summary on subjunctives by the erstwhile very helpful DuoLingo would go a long way toward putting that right, whilst also securing DL's universal renown as a one-stop self-contained language powerhouse to be showered with exotic blossoms and fragrant powders. Umm, also, I can't find 'ait' in the conjugation tables. How is it that 'a' now becomes 'ait'? Something to do with superlatives, so I gather. Is it a tense of some odd variant other than present? Please.


"ait is the subjunctive mood. Check ou the site "french.about.com" It's a mine of info on grammar http://french.about.com/od/grammar/ss/subjunctive.htm


They have a grammar section for this now thank goodness! I am finding the subjunctive rather difficult, like many English speakers I'm sure! So thank you for your requests and thank you Duo for plugging this hole in our learning :-)


Where is this grammar section? Thanks


'Le meilleur' is a superlative. But I think 'le dernier', 'le premier', 'l'unique', 'le seul' are not. Is it possible that another rule applies there?


Even if "le seul, l'unique, le premier, le dernier" are not superlatives, the rule applies.


According to http://french.about.com/od/grammar/ss/subjunctive_8.htm “After main clauses which contain adjectives like principal, seul, unique, premier, dernier, or any superlative, the subjunctive is optional - it depends on how concrete the speaker feels about what is being said.” It this case there seems to be no doubt that she has a car.


Note that if I am sure of the fact, I will say: "elle est la seule à avoir une voiture"


Yes, in real life many use the indicative; it is more relaxed.


Subjunctive has absolutely nothing to do with the certainty of the fact expressed in the main clause. I turns out that it is usually used with some verbs that express doubt, but it doesn't express uncertainty in itself. It's just a grammatical artefact associated with some specific constructions, like the determination of the scope of some adjectives, as illustrated here.


@movingsouth - yes, that is my understanding as well. There is an understood flavour of "as far as I know".


I think that the doubt is not whether she has a car or not (she does), but as to whether everyone else doesn't have a car. So there may be a hidden question: "Does anyone else (in the room of people I'm talking to) have a car?"


So are you saying that the use of the subjunctive here implies some doubt ? In which case it is surely, "She is the only one who may have a car". I understand that using "à avoir" will avoid the use of the subjunctive.


Sorry to disappoint you, dear Anna, but we may not disagree. Our subjunctive is indeed the mood of "possibility" (sometimes probability, sometimes hypothesis, sometimes allegation, the whole range is included).

If you were to stress that something is less than sure, or understate your speech, or sound sensible, an English modal like 'may' would do the job quite nicely - in terms of meaning, not necessarily in terms of Duolingo-style translation, that is.

  • c'est la seule qui ait une voiture - as far as I know/unless I hear of the contrary.
  • c'est la seule à avoir une voiture - I know it for a fact/I am positive about this.


You are right on both fronts.


Jacqui, "à avoir" is built with the preposition "à" and the verb "avoir" in infinitive.


A avoir? And also, i didn't think that the usage of French subjunctive meant that we have to translate it into English using a modal word 'may' or similar... But then, disagreeing with Sitesurf is 'le plus folle chose que l'on puisse faire'!


Another way of thinking of it is when there is "que" in front of a verb, that verb gets a bit messed up (/subjunctive)


DavidGi is right. On top of it, if you want to avoid using the subjunctive, in real life, you may say "elle est la seule à avoir une voiture".


If I am sure that she is the only one who has a car, can I say "Elle est la seule qui a une voiture." ?


"Sighs of relief"... Thank you!


Elle est la seule qui a une voiture...it's possible?


See also Sitesurf's comment on amtwt01's question, below, johans2103!


I just don't get these... A write-up prior to this section would be appreciated


I use a grammar book next to Duolingo - perfect for explaining these concepts. But I agree, there could be at least some explanation about the subjunctive, it seems there isn't any at all.


I don't think

"She is the only one who's a car."

counts as a good answer.

  • 2311

It is a nasty bug in the system. It was originally programmed to accept "who's" as a contraction for "who has" (bad idea, actually). Apparently the programmer is not convinced that it is actually wrong to do that.


Well, since I heard "Elle est la seule qui est une voiture" that would work!


Just for other learners to not be confused: "c'est la seule qui soit une voiture".

  • 2311

Very funny, CJ.


I was being somewhat serious. That's what I typed in as my answer because I'm not familiar with the subjunctive (I still don't know what it is) and « est » and « ait » sound identical. It seems that most French people are more familiar with grammatical terms and what they mean than most English speaking people.


Im spanish speaker....so i kind of understand it, we use subjuncitve a lot and i havent even noticces.... but yes i think in english might be more difficult.

Maybe this could help :) https://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/french-verb-conjugation/understanding-french-subjunctive


It is not actually wrong. If i ask "Who's got the time?" then "who's" is indeed a contraction of "who has". Programming is hard.

  • 2311

Exactly. I did not give all the details but responded to the post above "She''s the only one who's a car". <-That is the bug working. You may contract "has" and "have" when it is used as an auxiliary verb, but not when it is used alone with the meaning of "possess". The program does what it has been told to do. Unfortunately, the person doing the programming is unaware or unconcerned about the consequences of implementing an algorithm that has such far-reaching effects.


Okay, I have literally zero idea what a subjunctive is or when to use it.


Subjunctive sentence is about something that ought to be but may or may not happen or be true. For example, "I suggest she learn to love french.about.com." Will she learn to love french.about.com? It may or may not happen. So "learn" in this case is a subjunctive verb since it's not exactly in the future nor in the present. It only exists in a "suggestion."


If you're talking about Sitesurf's link, it works perfectly for me and should work for you too.


Ask your doctor whether Sitesurf's link could work for you, too.


We don't replace elle est with c'est in this instance?


The replacement is optional with such key words as: 'le meilleur, le premier, le dernier, le pire...' (and feminine/plural versions).


Merci Sitesurf!


Why do you say "qui ait" and not "qu'ait" (I know it sounds strange, but is there a rule?


There is no vowel conflict between "i" and the sound "ai" (yeah!).

"qui", as a relative pronoun or as an interrogative pronoun, never elides for that reason and it is good news, for it would be confused with "que".


How are we supposed to do this? There are no accompanying notes explaining the conjugation of these verbs and the rules for using the subjunctive.


For those confused with the French subjunctive learning about the English subjunctive will help (a tiny bit) to understand what's happening to the clause where the subjunctive is used. It's basically just a marker. In English the subjunctive uses the bare infinitive and ends up, except for the third-person singular, sounding exactly like the simple present. Here's the sentence for this thread using the English subjunctive (which you'd never hear. But it is correct. :)

  • She is the only one who have a car.

In French the verb forms are still very highly inflected (use different stems and endings to express tense, mood, voice, etc) and so we get to learn yet another conjugation but all it's doing is providing a hint that the statement being made is open to doubt or interpretation.

Besides About.com and Thought.co another great resource is Tex's French Grammar. I find using the index the simplest way to navigate. It has a lot of information on the subjunctive.


I know I'm late to the game... but I am not familiar with a lot of grammar rules and terminology, and although I read the comments below I'm wondering about the "ait".

What is the difference between "Elle est la seule qui ait une voiture" and "Elle est la seule qui a une voiture" ....?


"le seul qui/la seule qui/le premier qui/la première que..." are expressions that can accommodate the indicative if you know the information for a fact or the subjunctive if it is just an assumption.


I was trying to understand the subjunctive a while back (and still). On the news that night, a frazzled young college student on the news was asked to comment on presidential political speech in the USA: "What is this? Have we entered the subjunctive?" It reminds me this this is the wished for, the imaginary even? It's not factual, quite? I felt she was a genius...but now I wonder also if it is a clue to assertions that uncertain.
Also, in France, in French, does a prosecuting attorney making accusations do so in the subjunctive? Do most languages have a subjunctive? What are some definitely subjunctive English sentences scream subjunctive?
That sad part of conjugation tables is they do not translate and assume that the terms themselves will lead people to understand the translation in the native language; and in America, maybe fewer people learn foreign languages formally. Well, two questions here, a request and a comment.


A prosecuting attorney will use the subjunctive like me: when it is necessary, on a sentence by sentence basis, and according to the main clause's verb and/or the conjunction.

A subjunctive is not necessarily "unreal", at least not more than its translation to English.

"Il faut que tu travailles" is as real/unreal as "you must work more".


The best advice I can give you is to read the thread


With the conjugation of the verb "ait" is not there. did I miss something?


Here is the conjugation of verb "avoir" in subjunctive present:

  • que j'aie, que tu aies, qu'il/elle/on ait, que nous ayons, que vous ayez, qu'ils/elles aient.


thanks a lot. this grammar and the conjugation is getting harder and harder for me as I am not a native english speaker.


I appreciate that: two foreign languages to deal with is a challenge!


Really, really helpful way of explaining how this tense works and giving conjugation at the same time. Thank you very much.


im having loads of trouble figuring out how the subjunctive works...is it necessary to use it? or will sentences work without it? and if the former can someone explain w several examples when to use it...im very confused sorry!


Subjunctive is required, you can't speak French properly without it, for it is extremely frequent.

This is an introduction to subjunctive: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/ss/subjunctive.htm


What is the difference between the subjunctive and the infinitive?


I answered to you on another thread ("il faut qu'il voie son fils").


Sitesurf, if as learners we used the indicative en France, would it be noticed by good French speakers. Or is it like some English, possibly slowly changing in use?


This sentence by itself may express varying degrees of certainty, hence the possible use of the indicative (if you are pretty sure) or the subjunctive (if you are in doubt).

But the subjunctive is alive and well and it is not likely to change anytime soon. The reason is that when babies learn their mother tongue, they can hear the subjunctive in even the simplest sentences, like "il faut que tu finisses ton verre" (you have to finish your drink).


In the spoken recording, why is there no liaison between "ait" and "une"?


Because the TTS was made by someone who did not know the rules.


Am I alone in thinking "She is alone in having a car" could be a correct response?

  • 2311

Hi, Barry. I see what you did there but it's just not the most natural English. Duo is exposing you to the idea that as a noun, "la seule" means "the only one".


Thanks George, I mistook 'la seule' for 'seule'.


Duo seems to hide its grammar information. If you go to duome.eu/yourname, then click on the french listing on the top right, you will get a listing of all the subjects in the tree. There are some icons to the right of each subject. If you click on the first of these you will get a drop down of what is in the lesson. This includes relevant grammar information. It is a tortuous way to find grammar guidance, but it is there. A link to this from within the DUO tree would be helpful.


There is a simpler way of accessing the Tips and Notes: from your home page, click on a skill, then on the little light bulb.


How do you conjugate verbs follow "qui" "que" thanks.


By this stage, I should probably know better but i put qu'ait instead of qui ait on the basis that the first word ended in a vowel and the next began with a vowel. Can someone put be right on this rule?

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.