"A good man respects animals."

Translation:Un homme bon respecte les animaux.

February 10, 2013

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Wow, this was weird. I found the following explanation online:

Adjective placement in French isn't always clear-cut. The guidelines go something like this:

<pre>French adjectives usually follow the noun... ...except for adjectives that describe Beauty, Age, Number, Goodness and Size (BANGS). These adjectives usually precede the noun. Some French adjectives have a different meaning depending on whether they appear before or after the noun. Finally (and this is what makes things complicated!), almost any French adjective can be moved out of its "usual" position if the author makes a stylistic choice to do so. </pre>

When bon has its ordinary positive meaning (i.e., "good," "correct," etc.) it is one of the adjectives that usually goes before (hence la bonne réponse). But bon is often used with a more specific meaning when it describes a person -- that the person is a "good" person in the Christian sense of the expression (charitable, etc.). For this meaning, it goes after the noun.


I'd say that's a pretty advanced usage for us here... On second thought, though, that likely wasn't the intention.


A better way to think of it is subjective/figurative versus objective/literal.

If an adjective is subjective such as an opinion then it goes in front of the noun. If it is objective then it goes after the noun.

If a person is an old friend because you have known him longer than most of your other friends then that is subjective/ figurative. If he is an old friend because he has lived a long time then that is objective/ literal.

To help with classifying adjectives, a shortcut is to use the B.A.G.S. rule. Most adjectives that fall into those categories are placed in front.

B= Beauty

A= Age

G= Goodness (or badness)

S= Size.

Most adjectives that fall in to these groups will be subjective in nature and can usually be placed in front. However it's not always ironclad as the example of old that I gave.

To further illustrate the point you can use good in front of a noun when you or even most people think that he or it is good but would place it after when talking about someone winning the good employee of the month award.

See: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_fickle.htm


As a French speaker, I would naturally say (and would almost always hear) "un bon homme".


No, I think that's rare, 'though not unheard of. One reaon is the frequent use of "bonhomme" (one word = fellow, chap, geezer, and more). "Bonhomme (plural = bonshommes) is often used to describe folktale fellows or the creations of childhood: bonhomme de neige (snowman), bonhomme hiver (Jack Frost).


Why not "Un bon homme respecte DES animaux"? There's no "the" in the English sentence for the "les" in the French one.


Les translates as the pleural 'the'. Des means some. they are different. That is right there is no English equivalent as we don't have to say 'the' in front of all nouns as they do in French.


I also wrote 'Un bon homme respecte DES animaux'.

My understanding is that if you're talking about specific animals then you use the definite article 'the'. E.g. My neighbours have loud dogs but I still respect THE animals.

But if you're talking in general, which seems to be the case in this question, then you should use the indefinite article 'DES'.

Duolingo has been consistent on this in reverse: Il a du pain. Je veux manger le pain. = He has (some) bread. I want to eat THE (his specific) bread.


There is another meaning attached to le/ la/ les which Is: all examples of something.

In this sentence a good man doesn't just respect les animaux...those ones, right there

He doesn't just respect des animaux ....some animals but not all.

In French there is no inclusive article that indicates all just like in English. What we do in English is drop the article to show inclusiveness....A good man respects animals which means all animals.

To deal with this issue French has re-purposed le/ la/ les to also mean more than just those animals. Used in this sense les animaux means all animals, every animal, the idea of animals.

The only way to tell if le/ la/ les is being used in the specific or general sense is by the context. While it is possible the writer of this sentence means that a good man should respect only those particular animals that the author and the intended reader know about, it is more likely that the intended meaning is that a good man should respect all animals, every animal, animals in general on principle.

Hence: Un homme bon respecte les animaux.


Thanks for this very clear and effective explanation, northernguy. I understand now the difference between 'some' and 'all' in French!


Excellent explanation


Its supposed to be "un bon homme" not "un homme bon". As quoted, "French adjectives usually follow the noun... ...except for adjectives that describe Beauty, Age, Number, Goodness and Size (BANGS)." Pass it on.


As explained above it is not as simple as you seem to think.


I also wrote "des animaux", sometimes I think I will never get it.

[deactivated user]

    I didn't get this wrong, but as respecter is an appreciative verb I'm assuming it has the same definite article requirement as aimer?


    My answer was "Un homme bien respecte les animaux." and it was accepted


    How about "L'homme bon respecte les animaux"? Obviously, we are talking about "good men" in general and therefore suppose to use the "Le", don't we?

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