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  5. "He is only a child."

"He is only a child."

Translation:Ce n'est qu'un enfant.

February 11, 2013

45 Comments


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

How come "Il est seulement un enfant" isn't acceptable?


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

"Il est" and "elle est" are replaced with "c'est" when they are followed by a modified noun = determiner + noun.

  • it is + modifier + noun = c'est + modifier + noun
  • she is + modifier + noun = c'est + modifier + noun
  • he is + modifier + noun = c'est + modifier + noun
  • they are + modifier + noun = ce sont + modifier + noun

Modifiers can be articles (un, une, des, le, la, les), demonstrative adjectives (ce, cet, cette, ces), possessive adjectives (mon, ton, son, ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur, mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs), numbers (un, deux, trois...), indefinite adjectives (quelques, certains...).

Beware: this is valid with modified nouns not with adjectives or adverbs, before which you will keep the personal pronoun "il, elle, ils or elles".


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

Duo gave he is only a child to translate into French. So even in this instance Il est seulement un enfant French would never phrase it like that but instead say C`est seulement un enfant 100% of the time applying the rule you have so nicely explained above. Thanks


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

That is right + one alternative: "ce n'est qu'un enfant"


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

Could you explain that? I feel like I missed something. That said he id an only child right? How?


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

he is an only child = c'est un enfant unique.

Therefore, "he is only a child" can only translate to "c'est seulement un enfant" or "ce n'est qu'un enfant".


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

This is a typically French way of speaking about "only one thing". As if you are saying "He isn't anything, but a child", which actually means the same as "He is only a child". For example, if you want to say "I (will) take only one rose", you can say "Je ne prends qu'une rose" (which translates more literally as "I am not taking anything but a rose").


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

Similar to "he is but a child"


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

I forgot the rule for a moment and wrote "il n'est qu'un enfant", which was accepted.

Is this wrong, or is there some exception that applies?


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

"Il n'est qu'un enfant" is more formal than the common "ce n'est qu'un enfant". The rule is sometimes broken by some writers or journalists as a stylistic effect.


[deactivated user]

    Well, for me it means, that "Il est" is absolutely useless in French, as you can always say "C'est", but only sometimes "Il est". It is very strange for me, because if there is "he" form in given language, it should have the priority before a more general phrase, which in this case is "C'est". I don't know any language in which you CAN'T say "he is", but you have to say "it is" when speaking about a male human being. And I'm not saying about a situation in which one of the forms is more common, but the "he" form is incorrect. It is one of the reasons, why French is so confusing for me :) The rules are in many cases much more complicated, even more than in such a difficult language as Polish. :)


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

    That is not quite right.

    1) Rule:

    • "he is" = il est
    • "it is" = il (or elle) est

    2) Exception:

    • when "he is" or "it is" (or she is)" is followed by a modified noun (determiner + noun), the form changes to "c'est".

    3) Exceptions of exception:

    • when the modified noun is complemented by an adjunct (noun of noun or dependent clause), you can keep "il est" (or elle est)
    • when the modified noun has a meaning of a "(unique) status", you can use "c'est" or "il est" (or elle est).

    Examples:

    Il est + any adjective:

    • il est grand, il est beau, il est fort

    Il est + profession:

    • il est médecin, il est architecte, il est plombier (plumber);

    Il est + "status nouns" used without an article:

    • il est témoin; il est élève à Paris; il est victime de son succès

    Il est + modified noun + adjunct = c'est... or:

    • il est le seul ami que j'ai;
    • il est le président de la république française;
    • il est le professeur idéal pour de jeunes enfants;
    • il est l'artiste le plus doué de sa génération;
    • il est celui que tout le monde admire

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/roman2095

    What about exclamations such as "C'est magnifique!". Is this correct French? If it is, is it another exception? Or is it just incorrect colloquial usage?


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

    "magnifique" is an adjective so "c'est magnifique", "il est magnifique" or "elle est magnifique" all work, but refer to different situations.


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

    Thank you! This answer just changed my life. "C'est" vs. "Il est" has been a total mystery to me for so long.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ryand956

    So if you just read, "c'est un enfant", you wouldn't know if the child is a boy or a girl unless you had context?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alleigh25

    You wouldn't in English, either.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

    It's possible, but very rare to say "une enfant". Usually a girl will still be referred to as "un enfant".


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

    Not that rare, in my experience.


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

    Thank you first clear explanation I have read for this


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

    Can you explain me with sentences? Please, I need to know. And i think it doesn't look like we use this rule very very often.


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

    I think that would apply if you wanted to say "he is an only child" meaning he has no siblings. But in "He is only a child" the word "only" is not modifying the noun.


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

    I was marked wrong for "Il n'est qu'un enfant." because apparently it has to be "ce". Is this true?


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

    No, both are acceptable in my opinion.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arjofocolovi
    • C'est seulement un enfant
    • Ce n'est qu'un enfant
    • Il n'est qu'un enfant.

    All of these are correct.


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

    And a last one: "C'est juste un enfant".


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

    Why “C’est un enfant seulement” can’t be accepted?


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

    I think that it might be misunderstood as "c'est un enfant seulement, et non deux"


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

    Ok, I see your point, but is it wrong?


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

    Grammatically, it is fine, but it does not translate the English meaning correctly.


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

    I still don't really understand. Can someone try to explain it as simply as possible without using grammar terminology?


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

    And how does one say "he is an only child" in French?


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

    "Il est enfant unique."


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

    Oh, kay. Thanks! c:


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

    or "c'est un enfant unique"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eitan.B

    Why would <il est un enfant unique> be correct? And <n'est qu'un> means 'nothing but'?


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

    c'est un enfant unique = he is an only child

    c'est seulement un enfant / ce n'est qu'un enfant = he is only a child


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

    Il n'est qu'un enfant is still wrong, for some insane reason


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

    Some grammatical rules may look insane, but they still have to be complied with.

    "il est + modified noun" has to change to "c'est + modified noun":

    • he is a child = c'est un enfant (not il est un enfant )

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

    What's a modified noun? Noun + adjective?


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

    A modified noun is a noun preceded by a determiner that modifies it.

    determiners or modifies are:

    • articles (definite / indefinite): le, la, l', les / un, une, des
    • numbers: un, deux, trois...
    • demonstrative adjectives: ce, cet, cette, ces
    • possessive adjectives: mon, ma, mes, ton, ta, tes, son, sa, ses, notre, nos, votre, vos, leur, leurs
    • indefinite adjectives: quelques, plusieurs, certains

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

    C'est might refer to people sometimes, but that most certainly does not invalidate "il/elle"!

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