"January is usually the coldest month."
Translation:Janvier est normalement le mois le plus froid.
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.
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:
- The coldest month = le mois le plus froid (regular adjective, to be placed after the noun) -- but you cannot say "Le plus froid mois".
- 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".
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
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!
having the article repeated two times doesn't make sense, seriously.
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.
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 "[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.
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.
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.
i think "usually" can be translate to "fréquemment" http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/fr%C3%A9quemment/35184?q=fr%C3%A9quemment#35154