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"He is my brother, not my father."

Translation:C'est mon frère, pas mon père.

January 23, 2013



Hello, can someone tell me why the following is apparently wrong?

"Il est mon frère, pas mon père."


Please consider the following: - c'est mon crayon, pas ma gomme =it is my pen, not my eraser

In French, the same structure applies also to human beings, while in English you will prefer using a pronoun:

  • c'est mon frère, pas mon père = HE is my brother, not my father.


Yes, but in another question, Duo give 'Il est mon frere, pas mon pere" as the correct answer, which doesn't help with the confusion! I've reported this, so hopefully Duo will correct it.


There are indeed inconsistencies all over the place but the rules remain, together with their exceptions.

RULE You have to replace "il/elle est" by "c'est" or "ils/elles sont" by "ce sont" when they are followed by a noun, itself modified by an indefinite article (un, une, des):

  • he is a nice guy = c'est un gars sympa; they are tall women = ce sont de grandes femmes.

EXCEPTIONS When "he/she is" or "they are" are followed by a noun, itself modified by definite article "the" or a possessive adjective, you can sometimes still translate to "il/elle est" or "ils/elles sont":

  • he is my only cousin = c'est mon seul cousin or il est mon seul cousin (only one man on Earth has this qualification)

  • she is the president of the association = c'est la présidente de l'association or elle est la présidente de l'association (the association has only one president)


Sitesurf, thanks for your explanation, I can totally get it. But consider the following: I'm speaking with someone, and suddenly I spot my brother entering the room. I point at him and tell my partner, "C'est Jean". My partner asks me: "Est-il ton cousin?" And I answer "Il est mon frère, pas mon cousin". Would it still be wrong grammatically?


In modern French (20th/21st centuries), il est + noun is used as an exception.

"C'est Jean !"

"Est-ce ton cousin ?"

"C'est mon frère, pas mon cousin."


I can't reply to your explanation below, but thanks!


I truly consider this a bug in French.


I also said "il est" and Duolingo marked me wrong with the following explanation: "Use "c'est" before nouns with articles (un/une, le/la) or possessives (mon/ma)." This explanation appeared just above my incorrect answer.


This is something that keeps coming up, I think I am getting pretty good at explaining it... I hope :)

When you are talking about a person, both "c'est" and "il/elle est" can be ok, but each has it's own proper place.

"Il/elle est" is used when describing someone's personal qualities, appearance, profession (but you must omit the article here, e.g. "il est medicin", NOT "il est un medicin", basically treat the "profession" as an adjective). So when you want to say that he/she is tall, beautiful, flirty, a cook, a dancer... whatever! Feel free to use "il/elle est". Proper format, to put simply: il/elle + est + adjective.

"C'est" is used in a situation where you are describing someone using a noun or a modified noun. So, "c'est" is always followed by an article (un/une/le/la) or a possessive pronoun (mon/ton/nos/son/etc.). You can also use "c'est" if you are describing someone's profession, but in this case, you would use an article ("c'est un medicin"-- he is a doctor). Proper format: c'est + article + noun.

To put it simply, "il/elle est" is followed by an adjective (or a profession without an article), "c'est" is followed by an article + a noun.

To apply this to the example here:

"He is my brother, not my father."

"He" is being described by a noun--> "brother", therefore we have to use "c'est". The descriptive noun can be modified (he is my young brother, for example), but the rule would still work the same way.

Hope this helps.

P.S. do NOT trust google translate when you are trying to figure these things out.. it does more harm than good. And do check out http://www.wordreference.com/ , if you haven't already..:)


Thank you for a very clear answer :)


Being a native french speaker, i disagree. Your definition of "il/elle est" always followed by an adjective is wrong. I can say "Il est mon frère" and/or "C'est mon frère" and it still mean the same thing (He is my brother). To make it clearer and simpler, "C(apostrophe)" is like "(apostrophe)s" we put after "He".

" Il est mon frère"="He is my brother"

" C'est mon frère"="He's my brother"


Sorry Sitesurf, I still don't understand. I have never heard anyone in France say "C'est mon frère" when speaking? It is always Il est... any other info you could send to help further clarify? I would think that both Il est, and c'est should be correct, here.


You surely have heard things like : "mon frère, il est médecin, il est grand et brun, il est revenu de Belgique et il est reparti pour l'Allemagne". But as soon as you have a noun after verb "est", the form changes: "C'est mon grand frère, c'est un bon médecin, c'est un homme grand et brun."


Can I say, "Il est mon frère, NON pas mon père"?


you can say "c'est mon frère, non pas mon père", "non" stressing "pas"


But can someone explain to me why earlier I was asked to translate this sentence: "Il est mon frère, pas mon père." But now suddenly it must be "c'est"? If the native French speakers are saying it has to be "c'est" then fine, but why did DuoLingo put that as a French sentence before?


I personally have not come across "il est mon frère, pas mon père", which is incorrect.


It came up again just after I posted that comment! I will try to report it next time and see if it disappears.


Yes, I saw this too, and have reported it. Hopefully it will be corrected.


It could be Il est mon frère, pas mon père?


Can I use n'est pas in regards to a person?


Why is ne dropped here?


Because there is no verb in the second part of the sentence:

  • c'est mon frère, pas mon père
  • c'est mon frère, ce n'est pas mon père
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