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  5. "Comment l'oiseau meurt-il ?"

"Comment l'oiseau meurt-il ?"

Translation:How does the bird die?

February 2, 2013



I love these surreal phrases.


I once saw "the man eats a whale."


Japanese people eat whale all the time. So do Eskimos...


I saw ones "La femme mange un enfant."


Comment l'enfant meurt-il?


mdr = mort(e) de rire


Comment dit-on lol en français? Haha


I saw "Tu es un homme qui mange des citrons" of course, you are a man who eats lemons.


Actually I eat at least one lemon a day.


In german section I had "Ich habe keine Leben".


I saw "I AM a whale".


"Je suis une mouche" was in one of the initial lessons.


My favorite was "je suis mouche" i am a fly


je suis une mouche


You're in a French coal mine. There's a canary in a cage. It's choking. Bad food, sick canary, or gas?

"Comment l'oiseau meurt-il?"


Except in that case, "Pourquoi" would probably be better...


They are all surreal!


Probably from all the bread we were feeding it earlier.

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As well as the black water and the black apples. The bird has my sincere condolences.



why we use the the subject twice(oiseau and il)?


Yes, in this interrogative form, it needs a pronoun on top of the noun itself.

The more informal construction "comment l'oiseau meurt ?" is also possible, although less correct.


What about << L'oiseau, comment meurt-il ? >>


That is acceptable.


Let's assume we already know we're talking about l'oiseau. Can I say "comment meurt-il?"


So I don't know if I'd be wrong or not with this but is it "meurt-il" because mourir is a reflexive verb?


No, "mourir" is not reflexive in this case.

"meurt-il" with the inversion verb-subject pronoun is the formal interrogative form.

There is a reflexive form for "mourir" : "il se meurt", which means "he is dying".


Sitesurf, how do you always find relevant questions, when they're buried under loads of comments about eating children, black apples, and German?


I have to read a lot...


i still dont get it , what is the difference , without the il it makes more sense in english


@Lama. Indeed it does but that just happens to be the way the romantic languages are constructed and somewhat de-constructed in English. Therefore we must begin to not only understand them and their differences but if possible to "think" in the language we're learning. It don't come easy. Like little children learn a language, probably the best we can do at the early stages is to forget about understanding it all right now but just to "grasp" enough to move on to a place where, eventually, we will indeed begin to understand. I don't "get" it either but I have learned it enough to answer most tasks correctly. We'll get both "it" and "there" ultimately. The French language, usually, requires articles plastering the walls all over the place. Articles and exceptions is what the French language does so well. Turned out nice again hasn't it? :) JJ.


wow that is deep and true thanks Jack :) . i shouldn't attach english to everything i learn in other languages you are right thanks


Parce que mon chat l'a mangé


Can you say "Comment meurt l'oiseau?"


Yes you can, it is informal (no inversion between Verb and Subject) but usual in oral.


Isn't there an inversion in Ramoep's phrase though? The original phrase would be "L'oiseau meurt" (the bird dies). Asking the question using inversion would give "Comment meurt-l'oiseau". Would this phrasing be acceptable?

I'm confused as to why there needs to be an extra pronoun (il) added at the end.


The hyphen is required only with pronouns: comment l'oiseau meurt-il ?

The sentence "comment meurt l'oiseau ?" is not formally interrogative since it is the form of a subordinate clause: "je veux savoir comment l'oiseau meurt" or "je veux savoir comment meurt l'oiseau" (I want to know how the bird dies)


There is a useful structure! Would the following sentence be correct then? "Je veux savoir où sont des femmes"


"je veux savoir où sont les femmes" (the women/generality) or "je veux savoir où il y a des femmes " (women/several women)


This is not Natural, do you agree?


I do... that is not the best sentence to be worked on...


Why is it "meurt-il"?


The switch between verb and pronoun is an interrogative form, and it needs a hyphen.


Is it correct to put "Comment muert-il l'oiseau?" instead or is there a rule of where the noun goes. Also would "est-ce muert l'oiseau?" be correct?


The spelling is M E U R T. "Comment meurt-il, l'oiseau" would be acceptable as an emphatic form (note the comma after "il"). "Est-ce que l'oiseau meurt" is the correct order of words. What you propose looks a bit twisted, as in a poem where you would force the rhyme.


"How does the bird die?" sounds like an unusual way of expressing the question. Should it not be "How did the bird die?"


That would be using the past tense which we haven't been exposed to yet. (if you are doing the lessons in sequence)


That would be something you would be more likely to find yourself needing to say, but that's not what the french says. I think that would be "Comment l'oiseau a-t-il mort?" Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.


Sorry, "how did the bird die?" translates in "comment l'oiseau est-il mort ?" (auxiliary: être, not avoir).


Right! I always forget that mourir is one of the 17. Merci!


one of the 14 , since when did they become 17 :/ .. am i wrong?


why not Comment l'oiseaux meur-t-ils?


l'oiseau = singular; les oiseaux = plural

meurt-il = singular; meurent-ils = plural

conjugation of verb mourir (3rd group): je meurs, tu meurs, il/elle/on meurt, nous mourons, vous mourez, ils/elles meurent.


Purely from the sound, I think the sentence could equally be translated in the plural, "Comment l'oiseaux meurent-ils?" but maybe that's because my ear isn't finely tuned enough to hear the difference. In the sense of the plural, would it have been "Comment les oiseaux..."?


The plural of "l'oiseau" is "les oiseaux" (liaison: lé-Z-oizo)


Well, this is depressing.


I answered this with, "The bird, how does he die?", and I got it wrong...I assume because duoLingo hadn't written it as, "L'oiseau, comment meurt-il ?" ? I'm also confused as to how "Comment meurt l'oiseau ?" and "Comment l'oiseau meurt ?" are both right when French uses SVO sentence structure. I would think the latter should be the only correct one, but maybe it changes when the sentence is interrogative?


Interrogative forms often come in 2 or 3 versions, depending on the degree of formality you have to use (in writing vs in conversations)

  • formal: comment l'oiseau meurt-il ?

  • in speech: l'oiseau meurt comment ?

  • relaxed: comment l'oiseau meurt ? Note on this one that it can also be a kind of 'fake' question, to have your counterpart repeat his/her question or a kind of exclamation of surprise or disbelief.


Thank you! Just to clarify, when is it okay to write, "Comment meurt l'oiseau ?" ? Or more precisely, when is it okay to change the order of the sentence structure from Subject-Verb-Object to something different? I thought it was acceptable only in Inversion, but that is not the case in the above sentence...


I had forgotten that one...

"comment meurt l'oiseau ?" is the standard formula, when the question starts with an interrogative adverb and does not use a pronoun:

  • où sont mes clés ? (où sont-elles ?)

  • quand part le train ? (quand part-il ?)

  • que fait ton père ? (que fait-il ?)

  • comment s'appelle ton ami ? (comment s'appelle-t-il ?)


Thank you! That is very helpful.


Why can't it mean "how does the bird kills itself"? And how should i say it if i want it to mean "kills itself"?


"committing suicide" (kill oneself) = se suicider, se tuer.


I wrote "How did the bird die" which in my mind would make more sense, obviously t'was completely wrong... Duolingo, you should really try and integrate more common, or at least sane, sentences into your program..


Someone made a great point elsewhere (I think in an even less conversationally useful sentence in the Spanish section of Duolingo about a duck eating some kind of meat) that these nonsensical sentences are salient and therefore they're more memorable. There have been neuropsychological experiments (I can post links to them and/or explain in much more detail if anyone is interested - this is a super-simplified explanation) showing that we have a certain type of brain signal (N400) that is larger when words or phrases come up in unexpected contexts. The larger this signal is upon initial presentation, the more likely we are to remember the corresponding word in a later memory test.
Another point I could make is that if we can correctly translate things regardless of whether they make sense (even better, DESPITE the fact that they may NOT make sense), we will have a much easier time of doing the same in more realistic scenarios.


Yes, yes, yes, yes! In case I've not emphasised it enough... YES!. Makes for loads of unnecessary clutter but yes. I remember the quirks and forget the jerks. Excellent post, thank you. Have a lingot.


Wouldn't another correct translation be: How did the bird die?


No, because the sentence is in present.

how did the bird die? = comment l'oiseau est-il mort ?


Someone please explain the grammar of this.


This is a question asking for information, and starting with an interrogative word: "comment" (could have been "où" or "pourquoi", the grammar would be the same).

The formal interrogative format requires an inversion Verb-Subject. Since you have a real subject "oiseau", you need to repeat it with its matching pronoun "il":

  • comment l'oiseau meurt-il ?

Mostly in conversations, where the register of speech can be more relaxed, you can also use simpler constructions:

  • comment meurt l'oiseau ?
  • comment l'oiseau meurt ?
  • l'oiseau meurt comment ?


Oh okay thank you. :) So would 'How do the birds die?' be 'Comment l'oiseaux meurent-ils?' or 'Comment l'oiseaux meurent-elles?'


Comment les oiseaux meurent-ils?


ahhh right, thanks


Parce que mon chat mange-il.


Litige! C'est mon canari!!! Je vais poursuivre votre chat!!! Zut Alors! Nous savons où vous habitez mon ami..... nous savons!


I tried "perish" instead of "die".. how do you say that in french? (:


périr - comment l'oiseau périt-il ? (literary, rarely used)


I put "how did the bird die" and it marked it wrong. "How does the bird die" doesn't sound right though...


Why do you have to add -il at the end? It seems redundant


It looks redundant indeed, but it is the formal way of asking this question: the real subject is repeated as its matching personal pronoun in the Verb-Subject inversion.


thanks! I'll keep that in mind


((sigh)) Another death sentence. (pun intended)


I m just got how does the bird die. :/ i dont know, ask the exoerts

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