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  5. "Étant enfant, il était assez…

"Étant enfant, il était assez mince."

Translation:As a child, he was rather slim.

March 28, 2016



How to distinguish if 'assez' means 'rather' or 'enough' ?


You can only do so through context clues, I'm afraid :-) For example here, unless we happen to be debating whether he can fit through an air vent, chances are "assez mince" won't mean "slim enough."


If I meant "slim enough", I would avoid any ambiguity by using: "il était suffisamment mince".


There's a sense of "enough" in English that means "quite" or "fully," not making a comparison to some other standard of requirement. Think of a group of volunteers getting ready to rescue some miners trapped in a cave in, their leader asking "Are we ready?" and the answer being "Ready enough!" It's less common in American English I think, but not unknown by any means. "Is she skinny these days?" "Skinny enough," meaning yes, quite.

That's the same sense as "assez" in this sentence I think, which is why I think "he was thin enough" is a reasonable translation of the last part.

I'd be very interested to hear thoughts about this. It's a subtle point in English and of course my French is far from being strong enough to discern or portray that fine a distinction.


that was my thinking as well. as a child he was thin enough... meaning, he wasn't chubby then.


That's common in American English in my experience, too. "Fair enough" is a very common colloquialism to concede a point, for example. As such, I'm not sure translating "assez" as "enough" is every strictly wrong.


Alright, thanks for the reply!


Excellent question! You have four main words in French:

  • positive connotation: "mince" (slim)

  • very positive connotation: "svelte" (slender) -- usually implies the subject is slim but also agile and/or close to an athlete

  • negative connotation: "maigre" (skinny), as in "too slim"

  • very negative connotation: chétif (sickly): think "starving children in Africa".

I leave it as an exercise to look up for "squelettique" and "rachitique".


Interesting. In Swedish "to starve (to death)" is "svälta", awfully similar to "svelte"...


so mince is always translated as slim and not skinny?


I simply cannot hear the 'n' in "mince"...sounds like "masse" or "mass" : (


You should not hear the N as an individual consonant or sound, since "in" is a nasal sound.

Try this word here: http://fr.forvo.com/word/fr/mince/#fr


Why does the noun enfant not have an associated determiner ? Is it because the phrase étant enfant is acting as the appositive in the sentence ? In general, when you get an appositive, French tends to use a "bare" noun.

Grammar Note

Apposition is a grammatical construction in which two elements, normally noun phrases are placed side by side, with one element serving to identify the other in a different way. The two elements are said to be in apposition. One of the elements is called the appositive.


The US President, Barack Obama, likes to play golf.

Barack Obama, the US President, likes to play golf

Paris, capital de la France, est une grande ville. - Paris, the capital of France, is a big city.


It is admittedly tricky. Here, "Étant enfant, il était..." (or simply "Enfant, il était...") refers to the time when he was a child; it comes from the idiomatic expression "être enfant" (e.g. "quand j'étais enfant" -- "when I was a child") which acts as an indicator of time. "Étant un enfant", on the other hand, would typically convey the fact that he is a child, as opposed to an adult: "Étant un enfant, je ne suis pas autorisé à boire de l'alcool" : "Being a child, I am not allowed to drink alcohol".


For some reason, I assumed it was the plural of 'enfants' and translated accordingly. How should I have know it wasn't?


Since "étant enfant(s)" relates to the subject of the verb, you would need "ils étaient" in the main clause if "enfants" were in plural.

The pronunciation of "ils étaient" is distinct from that of "il était": eel-Z-etay vs eeletay


I am a bit curious about why "as a child" would not be "Etant un enfant" rather than "Etant enfant" in the dictation of this question


See my reply to nicholas_ashley above. I believe that "When he was a child" would better reflect the meaning of "Étant enfant"...


Should there be a liaison between était and assez?


It is optional but nicer to the ear.


Mince = skinny?


Mince = slim

Skinny (too slim) = maigre


I think skinny should be accepted. It can be said without implying anything about excess.


These make sense, but why not mince = thin also?


Are "étant enfant" and "et ton enfant" pronounced the same?


No, the nasal sounds "en/an" and "on" are distinct.

In addition, you should hear a T liaison after "étant" and an N liaison after "ton":

étant Tenfant

et ton Nenfant


I can't hear the T liaison on the normal speed female voice. But on slow speed its only one word, if it was two words they would be separated.


Strange. The literal Being a child, he was rather slim does not seem to give the same meaning at all; it's more "Because he was a child". ((His) being a child). Unless that is what is meant by "As a child". But I took "As a child" to mean "When he was a child" with a temporal sense. Is there something I'm missing?


"Etant enfant" is a set phrase with the temporal meaning of "when he was a child".

"Etant un enfant" would mean "being a child (because he was a child)".

"As a child" can be understood either way, depending on context and especially the verb's tense.


Would the plural be 'Étant enfants, ils étaient assez minces' or does 'étant' become plural as well?


The present participle "étant" is invariable.


Is it possible to write: Being a child, he used to be rather thin.

  • 2306

It really doesn't come across well. "Being ..." indicates the present and "he used to be" indicates the past. Therefore, "as a child, he was ...."


'Étant enfance' should be correct in the beginning of sentence ??? Marked wrong


"Étant enfance" cannot be considered correct; it translates to "Being childhood", which does not make a lot of sense. I do not have the exact list of accepted choices but, in French, you have to pick between "Étant enfant" (literally "Being child"), "Dans son enfance" (literally "In his childhood"), "Durant son enfance" (literally "During his childhood"), "Quand il était enfant" (literally "When he was child") or more commonly "Quand il était petit" (literally "When he was short", as "petit" often means "young"). This list is not comprehensive, of course :)


I see where a couple French natives said, "Enfant, il était assez mince."


Liasion between étant and enfant...


Updating doubts:

"Quand il était un petit garçon il était assez mince! " I am not particularly fond of this French/ English equation. One is not exactly expressed by the other.

My wrong phrase: Being a child he wa rat5her thuin" - I don't quite follow why this was considered wrong at more that the allowed speed (80 miles an hour).

Very often one gets the feeling that in Duolingo land, classification focuses on dactylography. If we manage to type at top speed then most certainly we do learn French.


"Being a child" must be followed by the present tense, so it doesn't quite fit here. The most direct translation, IMO, is

  • "As a child, he was rather thin."


Is it right if I translate "étant" as "being"?


Not in this sentence. You can only do that if the "étant" clause is currently true (at the time of enunciation) - "being" is, after all, the present participle of "to be." I can think of two possibilities: if the main clause is in the present tense, or in cases where the main clause is in the future tense but the "étant" clause is currently true.

Here's a couple of examples where you could translate it as such:

  • "Étant enfant, il ne peut pas boire d'alcool." -> "Being a child, he cannot drink alcohol."
  • "Étant motivé, il finira ses devoirs rapidement." -> "Being motivated, he will quickly complete his homework."


Strictly speaking, it can hardly be considered wrong since "being" is the literal translation for "étant" (present participle of être / to be). On the other hand, the art of translation is the art of picking words that sound natural; therefore, depending on the context, "being" may not be the best choice.


"As a child he used to be rather slim" ?

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Mince = slim, thin. Maigre = skinny. They are not equivalent.


Really? Only, as a native English speaker, i would have thought "slim" and "skinny" were synonymous.


What is wrong with translating the sentence as, "During his childhood, he was rather slim"?


During his childhood = pendant/durant sa jeunesse


Thanks, Sitesurf!


Is this, by chance, a French tongue twister? If not, it really should be!


Not at all. If you really want a tongue twister, I believe the most famous one is:

Les chaussettes de l'archiduchesse sont-elles sèches, archi-sèches ?



It should be considered ok to translate this as 'during childhood, he was rather thin' ; the subject of the main phrase is 'he' therefore it is not necessary to put 'his' before childhood.


"During childhood" = pendant/durant l'enfance.


What's wrong with, 'As a child, he was rather slim,' in English? Is there something in the French I don't see, that excludes 'rather slim?'


Your translation is exactly the same as the one given by DL at the top of this page.


"When a child, he was quite slim" I cannot understand why Duo marked this incorrect....could anyone clarify this for me please?


There is no word here that would mean 'when'. 'Etant enfant' translates to 'being a child'.


Sorry, no.

  • "being a child" = étant un enfant
  • "étant enfant" = when I was a child / as a child


I think my biggest frustration with Duolingo is the insistence on literal translations for some phrases and interpretive translations for others. If there was a consistency, I wouldn't be quite so frustrated in having to memorize what Duolingo wants instead of what simply works.


The Preferred translation is always the closest to the French original sentence. The reason is that it is the one you will be given for back translation to French, so there is a focus on similarities to help you to construct your French sentence in reverse.

However, together with the Preferred translation, there is a list of acceptable variants, some of which are more natural or idiomatic English, but more different from the French source sentence in terms of construction, vocabulary, word order, register of speech, etc.

If you enter any of the translations registered in the system (literal or not), you pass.


Can anyone explain why no article is used before "enfant"? Thanks.

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Already explained above by xaviergu.


For a child, he was rather thin ? If not, how would one say this construction?


"For a child, he was rather thin" = Pour un enfant, il était assez mince.

Both are grammatically correct, but they do not have the meaning intended by the original sentence.


can I say "Étant un enfant, il était assez mince."


Duolingo needs to add a lot of synonyms here: as/while, rather/pretty, slim/skinny.


The final word is neuve and not mince. Please check.


I checked and heard a clear "mince" with both the male and female voices.


Why not "being a child"?


Check above, the explanation has been given several times.


Why isn't "quite slim" allowed?


thin would be better

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