"Au départ, ils étaient très peu nombreux."

Translation:At first, they were very few.

February 4, 2013

59 Comments


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

make up your mind how literal translations need to be, this is frustrating!

February 4, 2013

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

Why not : at departure, there were not very many

November 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

"Au départ" does not usually mean "at departure". It often means "at the start " or "at first ". This is a really common expression. ( I think it comes from the fact that the start of your trip usually begins with your departure.) duolingo may accept this as "at the departure" if enough people complain, but keep in mind that when you hear this a lot of people will be using the expression.

"le depart" can and often means "the departure", but it can also mean "the start". http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french-english/d%C3%A9part/23583#832844

http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french/d%C3%A9part/23702/expression

August 3, 2014

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

How does it differ from "au début" ?

December 21, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

"Au début" means "in the beginning", so it is a slightly different flavor of the same thing. It can mean "at first" as well. It and "au commencement" are probably used more often in general circumstances. In English we have more than one way to say this also "at the start, at the outset" would perhaps be better time to use "au départ" especially if you leave one thing to start another. Think of the start of a race, "au départ" works for that as well as for a flight which actually starts with a departure. http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/francais-anglais/au%20debut http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/francais-anglais/au%20depart

December 21, 2014

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

Thanks !

December 23, 2014

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

It can, and it's accepted.

August 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda4406

Thus it would be helpful if "at departure" (my wrong answer) was not corrected to "upon departure" instead of making the helpful point you make--"at first." Thank you for writing. DL can be quite exhausting. It would be so easy for them to introduce these new expressions by showing the English first and thus making the point without so many guessing games. God forbid.

October 15, 2018

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

"Ils étaient" means they were, while "il y avait" the past tense of "il y a" would mean there were, as I suppose

March 28, 2014

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

Another DL example of non native speakers setting questions. Apparently NOT VERY MANY is no good.

January 3, 2014

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

Agree. I wrote: "At the departure they were not very many." and was marked wrong. Seems correct to me...

May 31, 2014

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

I think 'not' would require 'ne...pas' in this sentence.

July 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

I think that is why it is not accepted. "very few" is the same as "not very many", but they translate differently sometimes. One can say "pas vraiment beaucoup" for "not very many", but it can also mean "not very much", "not really much" or "not really a lot". "très peu" can mean "very few" but it can also mean "very little" or "very rarely", so adding "nombreux" indicates that the quantity is countable which narrows it down to "very few".

"très peu nombreux" (literally "very little numerous" which would not make sense in English) has been translated depending on context as "very few", "such a small number", "a very small number", "a minimum" (I wonder if that is a good translation or not.), "in short supply", "few and far between", "a small minority of....", "very small in number", "relatively few", "very few indeed", "very limited", and I finally found one that translated as "not many" (Perhaps that is the one that should have been "not very many", since "peu nombreux" can also be translated as "not many" or "few".)

http://dictionary.reverso.net/french-english/très%20peu%20nombreux

http://context2.reverso.net/info.php?q=tr%c3%a8s+peu+nombreux=fr=en=fr-en

http://context2.reverso.net/info.php?q=tr%c3%a8s+peu+nombreux=fr=en=fr-en

http://context2.reverso.net/info.php?q=pas+vraiment+beaucoup=fr=en=fr-en

http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french-english/nombreux/54431

http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french-english/peu/59660

http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french-english/tr%c3%a8s/78482

http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french/peu/60032/expression http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french/tr%C3%A8s/79444/difficulty http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french/nombreux_nombreuse/54804

August 19, 2014

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

Why not 'on departure', as opposed to 'at departure'?

September 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

"Au départ" is a really common expression which means "at the start " or "at first ". ( I think it comes from the fact that the start of your trip usually begins with your departure.) duolingo may accept this as "at the departure" if enough people complain and certainly it can mean that, but keep in mind that when you hear this a lot of people will be using the expression.

"sur le depart" would technically, I think, be "on the departure", but usually you would hear in French "de depart" which is "from the departure" and can mean "of the departure".

"le depart" can and often means "the departure", but it can also mean "the start". http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french-english/d%C3%A9part/23583#832844

http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french/d%C3%A9part/23702/expression

August 19, 2014

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

I imagine "at departure" goes up in likelihood in direct proportion to the degree to which the rest of the sentence is about transportation, yes? For example, «Au départ, plaisez restent dans votre siège avec votre ceinture de sécurité attachée.» (Did I get that right?)

August 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1742

I think you're right about that. From what I have found, "au départ" is a rather less elegant way of saying "at first". In general use, "au début" or "au commencement" would probably be better. As to your departure sentence, perhaps, Au départ, s'il vous plaît, restez dans votre siège.... using the imperative form.

August 19, 2014

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

"At departure" doesn't necessarily mean "at first" in English. Does this sentence mean at first or at departure?

December 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1742

There are several ways to say "at first": au début, au commencement, au départ = "at first, to begin with, at the start, at the outset".

Au départ is more easily translated as "at departure" but that would limit the application, IMO.

June 21, 2014

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

Duo also accepts "at departure" fwiw.

August 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1742

Thanks for info. But I can't help but feel it is a step backward because it is so literal and therefore feels somewhat limited. Best to you!!

August 19, 2014

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

I tend to use WordReference more than Larousse and they have "at departure" alongside "at first, to begin with." So much can depend on what dictionary you use, I guess. http://www.wordreference.com/fren/au%20d%C3%A9part

August 19, 2014

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

Is "upon departure" acceptable? I feel that is a more natural, commonplace way to say that in English.

April 22, 2014

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

"At the departure, there were very few in number" was accepted.

August 9, 2014

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

I don't see the contradiction.

June 24, 2013

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

I thought nombreux meant a lot or numerous, do you mean it can be translated as few as well?

July 29, 2013

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

'très peu' = very little or not very.

'très peu nombreux' = very little numerous = very few

July 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/srh1056

That's how I translated it, but it was marked wrong

August 17, 2014

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

one of the troubles of this sentence is that it allows too much room for singular/plural confusion in the beginning due to the lacking use of liason "ilS étaient"....

I got it with the end bit though anyhow since it otherwise wouldn't make sense...

September 15, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaryAnne20

Instead of 'at first', I put 'originally', which wasn't accepted.

November 5, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

No, this expression "au depart", means "at first" as in "at the start, because a trip starts with a departure. "Originally" is before anything happens and can be before any beginning. "originally" is translated as " à l'origine ". http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-french/originally

August 19, 2014

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

At the beginning, they were very few is accepted, but in another practice: Without beginning and without ending I was marked wrong for entering Au départ. It's quite confusing.

February 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

"without" in English is "sans" in French and in English "without" is not the same as "at the". If there is no beginning, something cannot be at the beginning. "au depart" is an expression, scroll up for more.

August 19, 2014

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

Why not "At departure, they weren't many"?

February 13, 2014

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

You forgot "very" for one thing.

August 19, 2014

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

stechan didn't forget the "very" and got a wrong as well.

September 16, 2014

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

Not ceteris paribus. While stechen got the "very," they wrote there were not they were.

September 17, 2014

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

I see. My bad. Thanks. =)

September 17, 2014

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

Anyway, why people keep giving negative points for questions? We are here to learn.

September 16, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/telemarker1

As usual another frustrating example of duolingo not knowing what it wants!!!!!! sort it out.

March 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

Scroll up for a lot of information about this, because duolingo does know what it wants.

August 19, 2014

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

I also hate that this is a new introduction to this word. When you touch it, no where in its given definition does it say "at first". Or that the "au" turns it into "first." It is not fair to penalize us when they do not give us the correct meaning to start with.

March 24, 2014

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

Ok, I said "at the outset" and was marked wrong. Can someone confirm whether or not "outset" would be an acceptable translation for "départ" in the real world, in this context?

March 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

"le départ" means "the departure", but it can mean "the start" since your trip starts with your departure. This "au depart" is a common expression which means "at the start" Would you really say "at the outset of your trip"? If not, it might not be the right flavor of meaning for this particular expression.

August 19, 2014

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

why give large as a definition....

May 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

"nombreux" can mean "numerous", or "a large number", but it has "très peu" in front of it which means "very little" or 'very few", so that together "nombreux" is simply indicating that this is a countable amount or number, narrowing it down to "very few", but some translate this as "very few in number" or "very few indeed", or "such a small number".... Scroll up for more information.

August 19, 2014

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

how does "allots" figure into the use of "depart"? It's one of the answers offered when one hovers over the word "depart".

June 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1742

Who knows? If you can't make sense of Duo's drop-down hint when you use it in the sentence, then don't use it. This is a perfect example of why one should be very cautious about the hints and check the word in a French dictionary if you are not already familiar with the word.

August 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

"répartir" is the verb that can mean "to allot". This should be reported.

http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-french/allot

http://dictionary.reverso.net/french-english/répartir

http://dictionary.reverso.net/french-english/depart (départ)

Oh, the link won't go past the accent and you must type the word in yourself, or use it without the accent and then choose the version with the accent.

If duolingo removes "allot" from the hover hint for "départ", they might have space to add a hint that the expression "au départ" means "at the start".

August 19, 2014

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

The hover text for départ does not indicate "au départ" means at first

August 16, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

Try reporting that. I hope they will add it. The expression is very common.

August 19, 2014

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

'Not very many' should also be correct

August 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cmd586

I said "very small in number" Why is this not correct?

October 6, 2014

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

I agree. This sentence is a contradiction, at least in English.

June 8, 2013

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

Language don't translate directly. "Peu" is often used in French to change a word. "Peu nombreux" = few. We don't say, "little numerous" to mean few in English, but that's how it works here in French. In French, "deep water" is "l'eau profonde." "Shallow water" is "l'eau peu profonde." We wouldn't say "little deep" for shallow. It's just a difference in how the languages function.

November 9, 2013

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

I don't see the contradiction in the english translation.

June 22, 2013

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

they were not very many should be allowed

June 12, 2014

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

Yeah, zombies are like that. Then they start popping out of the wood work.

July 20, 2013
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