It sounds more like an expression you need to learn by heart. But to remember it more easily you can try translating it more literally: 'It is of what?' You can see how that can mean 'What is it made of?' At least that's how I memorize it.
If you try to "make sense" of the language, you're never going to learn it. Think of how much in English doesn't make sense when you look at it literally.
when someone "runs away from home", it doesn't necessarily mean someone is literally running, for example. And someone who is literally running away from their home may not be running away from home.
You can "look up to someone" without looking up, or even looking.
Accept that a word means what it does, and things will be much simpler.
In this case, one of (MANY) meanings of "en" is "made of" (http://www.wordreference.com/fren/en)
Diff ppl havediff learning method. I'm an engineer, things need to make sense. And I learn by doing
O.k. Lets see if this makes sense.
En (and Y) are often used to represent something that is absent from the sentence. There are rules that sometimes favor one or another. There are rules and conventions that limit what they can represent. Oten the sentence itself provides sufficient context within those rules to indicate what they stand for. Other sentences require previous context to make it possible to properly translate them. Occasionally the reader/listener has to supply the context.
You are right that you shouldn't look for "what makes sense" in a new language, because it means what you feel sounds right. English makes perfect sense, as does french...!
though i have to point out that you are failing with your reasoning all your examples are figures of speech! which is a totally different story than what we are dealing with here
Personally, I find it easier to learn a phrase when it makes at least a bit more sense to me. Different people learn differently, however?
I disagree that by trying to "make sense" of a language, you are never going to learn it. I find that some of my best revelations and a-ha moments in language learning come from constantly asking "why". Attempting to make deeper connections has always been more helpful to me than mindless memorization.
Yes, whenever a new concept is introduced I basically memorize the pattern until I can either figure out the underlying rule or I read the rule in the comments. Duolingo could be vastly improved by including some simple explanations of the underlying rules when introducing new concepts.
I ageee that duolingo should provide explanation or a sample sentence when rejecting a translation of an idiom.
This is true, but it's always helpful to dig into grammar for the "why". Duo gives two correct answers for this: "It is in what?" and "What is it made of?" which seem to be wildly different, like asking "flour is in what foods"" AND "flour is made of what?" all from the tiny french word "en". Are we talking about the part or the whole? It's confusing. Writing it off to "just memorize it because it's a different language" doesn't always help.
But, now that we know that en has many meanings and one of them is "made of" DOES help.
When you're saying what something is made of, you use 'en' a lot. Like 'It's made of gold' in French is 'C'est en or.' So 'en quoi' means 'made of what'.
The meaning “made of” in this sentence is in the French word ‘en’. Imagine you see a ring you like in a jewelry shop, but it's made of silver and you would prefer gold. In English, you would probably just ask “Do you have this in gold?”, rather than “Do you have this made of gold?”. But if you want to know what it's made of, you can't just ask “What is this in?”. English is a weird language.
While most people would certainly say, "What is it made of," it is silly that "Of what is it made?" is actually marked incorrect. If you are interested in writing formal academic papers, you will need to avoid ending sentences with prepositions. The rule isn't observed by most, but it still does live.
Curiously, this custom entered our language sometime during the Pan-Hellenistic movement, when the British tried to connect their Roman roots and to incorporate Latinate customs into English. In older versions of English, this current rule is violated even by scholars, because it was not observed. Ditto with splitting infinitives.
Duolingo makes no difference pronouncing French 'un' , 'en' or 'in'... pretty sketchy vowels...
Okay, so this is the way to say "What is it made of?" But if this sentence doesn't mean "What is it about?", then how do you say that?
The main problem here is that we have no context! so how are we supposed to guess what it is supposed to mean?
Also translated it would be "It is in what?" I am pretty sure this is not used, or not used anymore! "c'est fait en quoi ?" if this was the phrase we probably wouldnt be having this discussion! who at duolingo comes up with these strange sentences? o.O get some french people to help you!
I thought it said "It is in what?" but I need to think of it more as "what is in it?" to give me the answer of "What is it made of?".
Is this the best way to think of it?
Does "en" mean "of" in this sentence? If so it makes sense. "It is of what?" is basically the same as "What is it made of?".
Why doesn't "What is in it" work? It means essentially the same as "What is it made of" and seems like a closer translation anyway.
I learned "en" to mean "in" like "in winter," not like in the library and I can't see how en can be "made of" without anything more.
En does mean in as in in winter but it means of as well.
It is in a specific material.
is it correct to say "c'est un quoi?", meaning "this is what?"? doulingo makes no differences pronunciating "un" from "en"
About as correct as using rite in place of right, or to in place of too (in other words, no--they're entirely different words).
I have to agree that this was difficult out of context. I actually thought the voice was saying "It's made of quince?" which made more sense in the moment. I'd use this phase if I were wondering if a garment was made of rayon or silk.
It said the correct answer is "In what is it?" which isn't even correct...????
I would love to know why literally "This is in what?" translates essentially to "What is in this?" since they are opposites.
You need to stop thinking of English and French (or any other language) as literal, complete equivalents.
To learn another language, you have to realize it exists 100% independently of English (grammar/syntax wise; vocabulary is excepted). Get out of the English mindset and try to take French for what it is.
One way I can think to help you think of it is if you say, "The story is written in French." What language IS IT IN? It is in French. So just like you would use "it is in" to talk about language, you could talk about materials, like a coat made of leather. For example, in French you could ask, "What material is it in?"
Thank you, your counterexample was helpful and caused me to think about it differently. I think "It is of what" is the literal translation I was missing.
Please correct me if wrong:
I was thinking how woukd you say 'what is it on?' Ie. Person1 says john smith is giving a lecture... Person 2. What is it on? .. In other words what is the subject of the lecture on....
Would that also be c'est en quoi?
Is there any reason that "It is in what?" is accepted, but "This is in what?" is not? More generally, how do we know whether "C'est" means "It is" or "This is"?
It works as a preposition too.
I lost a heart with the reply "It consists of what?" Otherwise I was well on my way to earning a lingot! Don't these algorithms consider the vast diversity and convergence of language?
In another forum on this phrase, Sitesurf (who we all revere :) commented: "Ugly French. More correct versions (from very formal to relaxed): en quoi est-ce (fait) ? en quoi est-ce que c'est (fait) ?"
There followed an interesting discussion between Sitesurf and jrikhal (another fine native contributer) over the acceptability of the more colloquial version and what the Académie had to say about it all. Check here for the discussion between our top French mentors: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1085095
I put "about" rather than "made of"...I know there are better ways to say about, but could en ever be used as one of those ways to refer to what something might be about?
Or can it only be used as "about it/about that," not en quoi "about what"?
This is in what? Was my ans , it was wrong. The answer it is in what. Doesnt c'est mean this is. Please explain