1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "Do they have a book?"

"Do they have a book?"

Translation:Ont-ils un livre ?

January 30, 2013

47 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/evine.chen

where did this "do" question sentence come from? i didn't find this grammer in previous courses....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/orcprocess

the question is literally "have they a book?" you don't need the "do" in these sorts of questions


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NathanShap

You don't use do in french like you do in english.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fedorychak

A mistake in a material shown for the first time shouldn't cost me a life! How was I supposed to know this grammar rule if the site has never shown it to me?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/annemaylol

Well you should have at least guessed it because of the times that example has been shown. Like, for example, the time when they asked for the English translation of the French sentence "Ont - Ils un serpent?" and you had to reply with the English translation, "Have they a snake?", or "Do they have a snake?" Ring a bell?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/die.perle

I agree. They should figure out a better way to introduce concepts, like how to arrange a question.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Speak23

Is the "Ont-ils" (They have) used instead of "Ils ont" so it is phonetically different to "Il sont" (he is)? I.e. to avoid confusion.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/waphle

Indeed, "il sont" does not exist in French, and "ils ont" is used frequently (just not in this particular example), but just to help clarify the phonetic question further: In French "ils ont" (they have) and "ils sont" (they are) are indeed phonetically different, as "ils ont" is pronounced with a liaison and "ils sont" is not. In liaisons, "s" is pronounced like a "z." As such, "ils ont" is pronounced something like "eelzohn," whereas "ils sont" is pronounced like "eels sohn." Tricky, I know! But just as you likely have little trouble distinguishing "race" and "raze" in English, thanks to both the subtle phonetic difference and the context, with enough exposure, this shouldn't be too tricky.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/emleh

Really explanatory. Definitely difficult pronunciation subtleties in French, but just takes practice! Thank you!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ivano456

But "Il sont" doesn't exist. The corect form is "il est" (he is). I didn't understand very well your question.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dmstewar

No. Questions in French can be phrased many ways.

You could say

Ils ont un livre?

Ont-ils un livre?

Est-ce qu'ils ont un livre?

French speakers can hear the difference between "ils sont" and "ils ont", they changing of the verb order affects the formality of the question (I think.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/berchmax

where did 'ont' come from ? sigh


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/videsh77

It came from avoir conjugate for Ils / Elles.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SnowboardNW

Can't it be

Ils ont un livre?

Est_ce ils on un livre?

as well?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bucko

It can be 'Ils ont un livre?" and also "Est-ce qu'ils ont un livre?" I think.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jolly_m

I would also add "Elles ont un livre?" and "Est-ce qu'elles ont un livre?"

actually would give you bonus points if you used "Est-ce que"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maargazhi

why not "font ils ont un livre?"??? does it not make sense in french?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ivano456

No, beacuse "font" means "to do", as a verb (as in "do your homework) , and not as an auxiliary for questions. If you are an English speaker it's pretty easy to make questions, you need the auxiliary "est-ce que" which is equivalent to the auxiliary "do" (so the answer is "est-ce qu'ils ont un livre?" = do they have a book? )


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Impisus

do they (feminine) have a book is supposed to be ont-elles un livre. my question is why not state 'have' in the french translation? is it assumed?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mattstaff

Can someone explain the purpose of the hyphen here? I'd appreciate it!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/waphle

Hyphens are used between the subject and the verb when there is an inversion (i.e., when the usual order of a subject followed by a verb is flipped to a verb followed by a subject). Using an inversion is one of the ways to ask questions in French (particularly in formal contexts). In this case, "ils" is the subject and "ont" is the verb, and "ils ont" (which means "they have") has been inverted to form "ont-ils?" (which means "do they have?").

In fact, a similar inversion (sans the hyphen) works in English as well, "They have " becomes a question if we swap the order and say "have they?" It's just less commonly used.

(Note that questions are not the only instances where you will encounter inversions, and inversions are not the only place where hyphens are used. You'll encounter more as you get into more advanced French. Just a heads up!)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mattstaff

Wow that was very thorough! Merci!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Farisalghazy

do they have a book? = ont-ils un livre,.. can I say, they have a book=ils ont un livre


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Blisspheme

Why can't it be Avez-vous? I don't understand this


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dmstewar

That means, Do you have a book?

What you are trying to say is "Do they have a book?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/videsh77

I had same question in mind. Your response helps.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ryazbeck

Furthermore 'ont' is the 'they' conjugate of 'avoir,' which means 'have.'

The hypen (-) and reversal of 'ils' and 'ont' implies a question.

Like waphle states above it's like English when you ask "have they a book?" so "ont-ils un livre"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rdghunt

the question in english is "DO they have a book?" but when writing faire, it was wrong...?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NathanShap

you don't translate "do" into french, you just ask "they have a book?" - "ils/elles ont un livre?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/snowleopard26

I don't understand why ont is used instead of avez. I thought avez is when someone else has & avons when you have. Is the reasoning behind ont meaning have because it is a question. So ont is used when "have" is in a question. So you wouldn't say vous ont un chat ????


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/waphle

In English, we only have two verb conjugations for "two have" in the present tense – ”has" or "have." But in French, we have six for the present tense, one for each subject type.

  • "Ont" is used for the third person plural ("ils ont" or "elles ont," – the equivalents of "they have"), as in this example.
  • "Avez" is used for the second person plural or informal ("vous avez" – the formal or plural equivalent of "you have"). As such, to answer your question, you would say "vous avez un chat."
  • The other present tense conjugations are "j'ai" for "I have," "tu as" for "you have" in the informal, "il/elle a" for "he/she has," and "nous avons" for "we have."

Hope that clarifies! Let me know if you have any other questions.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/snowleopard26

Thank you so much. So I am still able to say elle a, unne fille or l'homme a unne fille for example instead of l'homme avez fille. & is avons strictly first person plural for have. Many thanks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/waphle

You're most welcome! Yes, you would say "elle a une fille" or "l'homme a une fille," since both are third person singular. And yes, "avons" is just for the first person plural.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/snowleopard26

today in animal lessons they suddenly decided "a" did not mean have & it should be l'homme as un chat.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/waphle

! If they have that as a translation for "the man has a cat," you should definitely report it as incorrect.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DevunAmoranto

I've never seen anything like this. They should at least INTRODUCE it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jcanyon

so i put 'ont elles un livre' and that was correct, but it seems it would have worked with ils instead too. If elles is feminine and ils is masculine, how would you refer to a group of both men and women?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/waphle

As long as there is at least one male (or, when talking about objects, at least one masculine noun) in the group, you would use "ils." You use "elles" only when the group has only females or feminine nouns.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Neiko

What's up with that? I was taught to use "Est-ce qu'ils ont un livre?" not the shortened version.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/waphle

There are multiple ways of asking questions in French. The way you've mentioned is one common one – adding "est-ce que" to the beginning of a regular statement. Another common way is the one used here – inversion, where the usual subject-verb order is flipped. In this case, "ils" is the subject and "ont" is the verb, and "ils ont" ("they have") has been inverted to form "ont-ils?" ("do they have?").


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Neiko

Oh thank you! I'll try it out next time.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/heatherific

well how the crap was i supposed to know that?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/azarshenas

All of a sudden I have to translate "ont" without ever seeing it. Did I miss it somewhere?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Olopez120

I was not ready to use "do they have" as a combined phrase......


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rcarterphoto

I put avez-vous un livre.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/annemaylol

errr...yeah about this question...why didn't "Ont - Ce un livre?" work? I think I know why, but I'm really not sure. Is it because this only works when there is a des in front of the noun? I don't get this...Help!

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.