The issue is that Duo does not always take the nature of the word into account:
"tue" is verb "tuer" in 1st and 3rd person singular, indicative present: je/il/elle/on tue (= kill/kills)
"tue" is verb "se taire" in past participle, feminine singular: il s'est tu, elle s'est tue, ils se sont tus, elles se sont tues (=become silent/kept quiet)
It helps me to think of marking verb tenses on a time line. I place NOW in the middle, any past action (or state of being) to the left, and any future action to the right. Each verb form can be located in relation to NOW.
Geometrically speaking, a verb can be a precise point, a finite segment of time, or a ray that begins at a point and carries on indefinitely.
"My aunt kept quiet" implies a point in the past.
"My aunt had kept quiet" describes an action going on for an unspecified time in the past.
An additional phrase might make the time period more specific: "My aunt had kept quiet during the movie" implies a specific time range in the past while "My aunt had kept quiet until the party" implies an unknown beginning but a specific ending point.
The tense shows the extent of the action or state of being, for example whether the past action is totally in the past, is ongoing or will continue to be going.
"My aunt had kept quiet" ≠ "My aunt kept quiet" ≠ "My aunt has kept quiet" ≠ "My aunt keeps quiet" ≠ "My aunt will keep quiet" ≠ "My aunt will have kept quiet".
Expressing verbs precisely and on the fly in a second language is daunting to me! I need so much practice. (Thank you to Bescherelle's L'art du conjuger!)
BTW: Adorable baby!
OK. Now I have a question - did she keep quiet, or did she shut up? They're different. She had kept quiet => no talking; continuous silence She had shut up => she WAS talking/she HAD BEEN talking, then she fell silent
Can we use 'se taire' for both? Or only for one?
(NOW ... did she kill herself rather than shut up....? Only joking! :) ) PS I know why your little angel has his head in his hands.
"Se taire" is more often about shutting up.
Teachers often use:
- Pourriez-vous vous taire, s'il vous plaît ? (standard, polite...)
- Taisez-vous ! (irritated teacher)
Keep quiet = garder le silence.
- he kept quiet for the whole meeting = il a gardé le silence / il s'est tu (still meaning that he usually does not keep quiet) pendant toute la réunion
First, because you need to go further into the past. It's not "s'est tue", but "s'était tue," so the English would not be simple past but past perfect, i.e., not "was" but "had been".
Secondly, I think that "se taire" is a little more deliberate than just "to be quiet". I could be wrong, but I get the impression it's not just being quiet, which someone might do just because he was asleep or engrossed in a book. It's actively refraining from making a noise - "keeping quiet" or "shutting up".
There is a confusion here (already reported):
"se taire" is a pronominal verb meaning "keep quiet" (shut up, if you prefer). the past participle of that verb is "tu", "tue", "tus" or "tues", depending on subject (gender/number), since, with verb "être", the past participle has to agree with the subject.
- il s'est tu
- elle s'est tue
- nous nous sommes tus
- elles se sont tues
Verb "tuer" means "kill" and is conjugated with auxiliairy "avoir" at composed forms:
- il a tué (passé composé) - he has killed
- elle avait tué (plus que parfait) - she had killed
- nous aurons tué (futur antérieur) - we will have killed
- elles eurent tué (passé antérieur) - they had killed
If you are interested, I can give you the rules of the agreement of past participle with auxiliaire "avoir". Just ask if you need that.
I realized that I forgot to tell you about the pronominal form of "tuer" (kill) :
- Ma tante s'était tuée" (my aunt had killed herself)
- Mon oncle s'est tué (my uncle killed himself)
Those 2 examples illustrates the need to carefully use accents, in writing and orally as well, to clearly differentiate "tue" (TU) and ""tué/tuée" (TU-EH).
Now, about the rule of the agreement of past participle with auxiliary "avoir". Just to make you comfortable, a vast number of French people don't know them or don't apply them...
Rule: the past participle is invariable EXCEPT when the direct object is placed before the verb. To identify the direct object, ask the question: VERB - whom/what ?. Example: I love my son - I love whom? - my son - my son is the direct object of verb love.
- j'ai écrit (past participle) une lettre (direct object) - invariable
- la lettre (direct object - feminine singular ) que j'ai écritE (past participle) - agreement to feminine singular direct object.
- est-ce Marie (direct object) que j'ai vuE ?
- les œufs ? je les (pronoun replacing direct object) ai mangéS.
Thank you for these explanations, They are certainly making duolingo more useful.
That's right and the other agreements will show the same:
- il s'était tu (taire) - il s'était tué (killed)
- ils s'étaient tus (taire) - ils s'étaient tués (killed)
- elles s'étaient tues (taire) - elles s'étaient tuées (killed).
This is why paying attention to accents can be crucial!
In consecutive questions, with different subjects, two different translations are required. When it's the girl, she "had gone silent," and "had been silent" was not accepted. When it's my aunt, exactly the opposite: "had gone silent" is not accepted and "had been silent" is. What gives?
Actually, there were a half dozen sentences that I fixed so that the same types of translations are accepted and I added hints.
You also have to know that "se taire" can mean 2 things depending on context:
- to keep quiet/be quiet/remain silent/be silent
- to become/fall/go silent (= to stop talking)
The tense contributes to the meaning.
- Elle se taisait = She was silent: in imperfect, it is on-going
- Elle s'est tue = She stopped speaking: in PC, it is a one-time event.
With bits of context:
- Elle s'est tue toute la journée = She remained silent all day long
- Elle se taisait pendant deux minutes, puis elle reprenait son discours = She would stop talking for two minutes, then she would resume her speech.
- Elle se taisait quand je suis arrivé(e) = She was silent when I arrived. (on-going / interrupted by a one-time event in PC).