"He is a bad boy."
Translation:C'est un mauvais garçon.
The best differentiation I have found is here: http://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/cest-versus-il-elle-est
It requires close reading several times!
Briefly, "C'est" precedes a noun, so "C'est un mauvais garçon,"
"Il est" precedes adjectives, so "Il est mauvais."
As someone noted below, formal French might use "il est" where "c'est" is used, but apparently it sounds wrong nowadays in spoken French.
Read the full page at the above link; it's worth the time.
Thanks for the refences. I almost picked the right answer but last moment split the decision. I was thinking, it should be "C'est un..."
Thanks for the link!
The noun 'garçon' has been modified here by the adjective 'mauvais'. 'Il est' can only be used with unmodified nouns, and since the noun has been modified here you have to use "c'est" instead.
That's not really true. Google "il est un homme dangereux" or "il est un mauvais exemple" for example and you'll get hits from reputable sources like Le Figaro. I understand it's formal and pretty much absent from colloquial french, but it's not "wrong".
But it says to use c'est when the noun has an article (un, une, etc) but don't all nouns have articles then? Does it have to do with the article or the adjective? If there was no "mauvais" would it just be "Il est un garcon"?
Some nouns like those of professions don't require an article.
Eg; il est professuer. He is a professor.
Nope, it is just how the language is. Its like asking is there any need for genders? Nope. Just the way the language is..
So, how can one differentiate the subtle difference between 'this is a bad boy' and 'he is a bad boy'?
In this case, more context is require to differentiate those two sentences. "Ceci est un mauvais garçon ." - This is a bad boy "C'est un mauvais garçon ." He/This/That is a bad boy. You could say it either way, but the former sentence is if you want to emphasize/specify the difference.<pre>
Disregard the fact that you posted this question two years ago and obviously know the difference by now but for the people who are starting, this should help you.</pre>
This was a pretty big surprise to me... I can't believe I never picked this up in my years of French instruction...
I learned french at the university level and I have been using duolingo to brush up. I never learned that C'est must be used in a situation such as this....Il est should be fine to use as well...
The adjective comes before the noun in certain circumstances. Another user taught me "BANGS: beauty, age, numbers, good/bad, size".
In the previous exercise in previous level, I think it was "Il est un mauvais ..." for "He is a bad boy". After reading the comments here, I still do not quite understand.
Shouldn't this sentence in English be "This is a bad boy" instead of "He is a bad boy"? I don't quite understand all the explanations above.
Rules regarding the verb to be.
Nouns: Unmodified nouns invoke the il/elle est form. Modified nouns invoke the c'est form. Most nouns require a modifier in French. Professions don't require a modifier in French.
He is a professor = allows an unmodified noun structure = Il est professeur
He is a boy = requires an article thus the modified noun structure = C'est un garçon.
Adjectives and Adverbs. Stand alone adjectives and adverbs can refer to a person or a situation. Those that describe a person require the il est form. Those describing a situation invoke c'est.
He is bad = describes person = il est mauvais.
It is bad = describes situation = c'est mauvais
See http://french.about.com/library/weekly/aa032500.htm for a better explanation.
J'ai deux questions... 1. Why can "mauvais" be used before and after "garcon"? 2. Does "c'est" refer to girls, too? Ex: "C'est une fille mauvaise"?
"Mauvais" is one of those adjectives that goes before the noun—that's just the way it is. It can't be used after "garcon." Most adjective go after the noun. Some can go in both positions and the meaning changes.
See here for a list of adjectives that go before the noun: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/standard/french/grammar/adjectives/revision/1/
"C'est" refers to any noun on the predicate side of a sentence: "This/that/it/she/he is..." C'est Père Noël, c'est un lapin, c'est une fille." etc.
Ce is neutral when it comes to gender. Think of it as "this". You're right that it SHOULD only be used for singular nouns (C'est une femme -> Ce sont des femmes). Orally and/or informally, though, "C'est des femmes" is acceptable.
I don't think so. "C'est la femme" is a good transation for "She/that/this/is the woman."
It is telling me to not have a space around the apostrophes but I can't fix that!!!
That's because in French you don't use the form Il est + noun, only Il est + adjectif. For nouns you use C'est instead, as in this sentence. This article explains it better than I can: http://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/cest-versus-il-elle-est
I was trying to use "mal garçon" — what's the distinction between "mal" and "mauvais", or their proper usage?
How do you know what adjectives to put before the noun and which ones you put after?
I wrote 'il est...' which was wrong. The page showed the correction and explanation of when to use "c'est" (with an article before a noun) ...that is an excellent help. Thank you for the explanation!!!