Translation:The women are writing letters to us.
How do we decide where "nous" goes in the sentence. In English, since "us" comes at the end, I would naturally look for French version to have it a somewhere near the end. Is there any rule on how we decide this? How about "Les femmes écrivent nous des lettres" - The women are writing us some letters.
nbzain, there is something called object pronouns that other languages use that I can explain to help you understand this sentence structure. I learned Spanish first, so that's where I got this knowledge, but it's the same in french. In spanish, the indirect object Nos means "to us". If I want to say the same sentence as this french one, I would say: "Las mujeres NOS ESCRIBEN las cartas". The same thing is happening here but if I literally translate the part in caps lock, it's "to us they write". In french, it's the same. The indirect object comes before the verb so for any action, it's going to be backwards. "to me they told" or "to him they passed" when you see the word order like this. I think most languages do this except English, so it's a little hard to get used to at first, but it helps to read the whole sentence before trying to translate something, so you can realize when they've thrown in one of these object pronouns. Hope that helps - let me know if I can explain more clearly!
I'm sorry but this has nothing to do with the "reflexive verbs" whatsoever. Reflexive verbs are those ones for which the subject and the object are one and the same grammatical person, which obviously is not the case here. In reflexive verbs, subject does an action to himself/herself/itself, so to speak. An example of a reflexive verb would be "s'aimer" = "to love oneself".
"Nous" is here an "indirect object pronoun". Indirect objects are nouns or pronouns in a sentence to or for whom/what the action of the verb occurs. Indirect object pronouns are placed before the verbs in French, as you have mentioned yourself. So, in this exercise we have:
Les femmes --> subject
écrivent --> verb
des lettres --> direct object
nous --> indirect object (but placed before the verb here, because that's the way it goes for object pronouns in French)
You are absolutely right! I meant object pronouns then *** :D haha The comparision example is the same though - people who are new to this object pronoun phenomenon can benefit from the knowledge that nous escrivent means they write to us, is all I meant to share here :) Thanks!
In fact, just when you use pronoun, you have to put it before the verb. for example: nous, tu, il before the verb to show 'to us, you, him". but if you want to say' to the man, to the boy', you cannot put them before the verb, just put them behind the verb, like in English. so if you want to say: the women are writing letter to the man. it is : les femmes ecrivent l'homme des lettres.
Well, you wrote this question some time ago so you've probably figured this out by now but just in case someone else is reading ... I've been referred to the French About.com page from this site a few times & it's helpful. http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/objectpronouns_2.htm Good luck!
Hey wilderplain - in languages other than English, when they are doing something to him, to her, to me, to us or etc., the indirect object (in this case nous) goes before the verb, as a general rule. So like nous escrivent, er I am just recently studying French so I can't give you more French examples but in Spanish it's the same and it would be ME DIJERON (they told me) TE DIERON (they gave you) NOS DIJERON (they told us) etc. It's the same idea in French. Hope that helps!
The 'nous' in this sentence adds 'to us' in the English translation, if that's what you mean by possessive? "Des" here is the plural indefinite article discussed here http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/de-vs-du-de-la-des_2.htm . The English sentences "The women are writing letters" and "The women are writing some letters" have the same French translation as the 'des' is obligatory.
The women are writing [some] letters to us = Les femmes nous écrivent des lettres. The women are writing [some] letters = Les femmes écrivent des lettres.