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  5. "January is usually the colde…

"January is usually the coldest month."

Translation:Janvier est normalement le mois le plus froid.

February 2, 2013



Language learning can leave you scratching your head: I looked up 'usually' in the authoritative Collins-Robert French Dictionary and found 'd'habitude' and 'generalement', as the equivalent french terms, but not 'normalement'. Then I looked up 'normalement' in the French-English part and did find 'usually' as one of the equivalent english terms.


Good reason to avoid translating dictionaries...


Can someone explain why "usuellement" is not accepted here ?


"usuellement" is correct but very "unusual", except if you are short of synonyms and don't want to repeat "habituellement" or "d'habitude" or "la plupart du temps" or "normalement"...


Usually usually is unusual.


I didn't realize that "usuellement" was so unusual. It can be a bit tricky trying to understand what diction is best suited for a given statement. As always, dear lady, I thank you for all your help. And, by-the-by, I love the sound of "la plupart du temps"!


It was my understanding it was only correct to say "Le janvier est le mois...". Is Janvier ever preceded by "le"?


you can say "janvier est le mois..." or "le mois de janvier est..."


May I ask where I went wrong here please? "janvier est le mois le plus froid normalement"


That's what I thought as well, but le mois de janvier didn't work for me :-(


is it possible to say "le plus froid moins"


no, the right order is respected in the answer provided, ie noun before adjective.


Why do we use the second le in "le mois le plus froid"?


"le plus" is the superlative 'block', whichever the rest of the sentence, including another "le, la, les" with the noun.

  • la femme la plus belle
  • l'homme le plus beau
  • les mois les plus beaux


I don't understand this explanation. Could you or someone else have another attempt at answering?


In english, you construct a superlative (describing a superior quality) either with "the most + adjective" or "the + adjective-est".

  • beautiful - more beautiful (comparative) - the most beautiful (superlative)
  • pretty - prettier (comparative) - the prettiest (superlative).

In French, you must use "definite article + plus + adjective".

  • beau - plus beau - le plus beau (masc. sing)
  • jolie - plus jolie - la plus jolie (fem. sing)
  • beaux - plus beaux - les plus beaux (masc. plur)
  • jolies - plus jolies - les plus jolies (fem. plur).

Now, remember that regular French adjectives are placed after the noun but a few others are placed before the noun:

Regular adjectives:

  • The coldest month = le mois le plus froid (regular adjective, to be placed after the noun) -- but you cannot say "Le plus froid mois".

Irregular adjectives:

  • The most beautiful month = "le plus beau mois" (irregular adjective, to be placed before the noun) or "le mois le plus beau"
  • The smallest thing = "la plus petite chose" or "la chose la plus petite".

[deactivated user]

    Brilliant explanation Sitesurf, thank you.


    Excellent! It will take a few reads and a few examples to sink in but that is pretty clear.


    Is this a general rule when describing months?


    It's a general rule when describing nouns (i.e. when using adjectives---or more specifically in this case, superlatives).


    The general rule in French is that the adjective is placed after the noun, more exceptionally in front of it: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_4.htm


    why "le mois DE plus froid" is incorrect


    As Sitesurf describes to PetiPri elsewhere in this thread, "coldest" isn't a single term in French. It is literally "the most cold" (le plus froid), whereas "de plus froid" would be roughly "of most cold," in my understanding.

    Sorry if this is an old question, Duolingo isn't showing me a timestamp. Hope this helped someone!


    It does, as this was my question. But, following this train of thought, why not "of the most cold" (du plus froid)?


    With short adjectives, comparative and superlative variants take an ending in -er or -est and not "more" / "the most":

    • plus froid = colder (not more cold)

    • le plus froid = the coldest (not the most cold)


    Brilliant, thank you.

    [deactivated user]

      having the article repeated two times doesn't make sense, seriously.


      Yes it does, since "coldest" cannot be translated in a single adjective but with "le plus"


      Face it, it's strange. But it's not that hard to learn. Spanish (and English) also requires an article to create a superlative but it isn't repeated. Cheers.


      I don't really understand. Why is there a two articles here?


      You need the first article for this part:

      "January is the month" = Janvier est le mois ... (could be "Jan. is the month I prefer": Janvier est le mois que je préfère)

      You need the second article for this part:

      "the coldest" = le plus froid (colder = plus froid; coldest = le plus froid; the article is what forms the superlative "-est" degree)

      Thus, there are two articles: "the coldest month" = le mois le plus froid.


      it is explained above :)


      So "...le mois plus froid" is wrong?


      yes, because to express a superlative, you need to keep "le plus" together, even if the noun already has its article.


      this thread is another one of those "broken records" XD

      ... read the comments below before posting.


      To be fair for the less bright among us, (ie: me) it helps to have the same thing explained differently by various people.


      Et avril est le mois le plus cruel.


      Is there any change in meaning if the verb and adverb are switched? i.e. "Janvier normalement est le mois le plus froid"?

      i got this marked wrong, and i'm not sure if this just isn't acceptable syntax in french


      There is no change in meaning, you would just need to add commas before and after the adverb.


      what's wrong with "janvier est typiquement le plus froid mois" ?


      Word order: it must be le mois le plus froid.


      typically = typiquement usually = normalement, habituellement, d'habitude, couramment...


      "Le mois plus froid" is wrong?


      See above re Sitesurf's comment.


      I'm confused about the ending of the sentence. How does "Le mois le plus froid" translate to "the coldest month"?


      The literal translation of "plus froid" is "more cold", or more correctly, "colder"; so "le mois plus froid" means "the colder month". It what scenario would you say that? If someone asks you about the weather in January as compared to February, you might answer, "January is the colder month."

      The word "le" kind of gives an emphasis to "plus froid"... imagine someone (a foreigner, perhaps?) saying "the colder month" (perhaps because his language lacks the word "most")... in other words, the coldest month.

      You could also imagine that there is a "that is" and an "of them all" that are understood in the construction: "the month [that is] the colder [of them all]". Literal translations are often awkward and imprecise, but also often help me understand grammatical constructions that differ from English. I hope it helps you. Or someone.


      "le plus" with set article is the expression for (cold)-est.


      "le plus" with set article is the expression for "[adverb/adjective]-est". Wherever you see a phrase which has "le/la plus" seemingly in a weird place, it means the "superlative" of the adverb or adjective is being used - le plus chaud; la plus haute; le plus rapide..." and so on.



      Out of curiosity, would "Le mois de janvier est normalement le plus froid" also be acceptable?


      Well, would it be understood? Of course! Is it right for the purposes of this exercise? Not exactly.


      Well, at least I would be understood! :)


      I entered "Janvier est le mois le plus froid normalement" placing normalement at the end as I'd seen it placed there in a previous answer. I was just wondering why it can't be placed at the end in this example?


      You could place the adverb in 4 places:

      • généralement/normalement, janvier est...
      • janvier est généralement/normalement...
      • janvier est le mois le plus froid, généralement/normalement
      • janvier, généralement/normalement, est le mois...

      The reason is that the whole sentence is affected by the adverb and not one or the other words specifically.

      As usual, the Best translation here is the closest to the original version.


      Great input as always. Can you clarify a little please? Many sources highlight the rule re modifying adjectives. But none I've seen so far specify such use when the adverb affects the whole phrase as you describe. I won't ask you for a full in-depth explanation (if you don't wish to give one) but can you point me to any particular references so that I can grasp what you're saying a bit better? I find adverb placement is a big pain. Thanks Sitesurf.


      Merci beaucoup pour l'explication.


      I'm offering a quick response, but by no means the surest response. I think in this case your placement wasn't correct because of the superlative. "Le plus froid" is essentially an adjective (superlative) modified by normalement in this case, which is what I think requires the placement of this word before the adjective it modifies.


      (normalement) What's the wrong with you people it's souvent


      Two are the same sentence?


      Janvier est normalement le mois qu'il fait le plus froid ?


      If you want a relative clause, you need: Janvier est d'habitude le mois il fait le plus froid.


      To me, generally and normally mean the same thing. Is there some nuance of meaning in French that makes generally wrong? Thanks to whoever answers.


      "le mois le plus froid" is fine but "le plus froid mois" is not? Any explanation why?


      "Froid(e)(s)" is a regular adjective, to be placed after the noun even in the superlative.

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