"My brother must write that letter."

Translation:Mon frère doit écrire cette lettre.

February 11, 2013

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When do you use "ça" for "that"? Why can't you use it in this context?


"ça" is used as a pronoun : ça marche bien = that works well

"that" + a noun is an adjective: in French ce/cet, cette or ces: ce stylo, cette lettre, ces fleurs


So "ce" (etc) is an adjective and "ça" is a pronoun? Ah, OK, thanks. That makes sense.


That is a really good heuristic, but keep in mind that "ce" can be a pronoun in "c'est" and "ce sont".


Could you say that you use "ce" with être and "ça" with other verbs, when you're using them as pronouns?


Very helpful. Thanks.


What is wrong with: "Mon frére faut ecrire cette lettre."?


Falloir is an impersonal verb, so (as I understand it) you can only have "il faut" no other noun can "faut." The rest of the time use some form of devoir.


Yes "falloir" is a defective verb, ie only a few forms actually exist and are used.

On top of the infinitive "falloir" only those are used

  • il faut (present)
  • il fallait (imparfait/preterit)
  • il faudra (future)
  • il fallut (passé simple/simple past -> never used on Duolingo)
  • il a fallu (passé composé + all the other composed forms: avait fallu, aura fallu, eut fallu, aurait fallu, eût fallu...)
  • il faudrait (conditionnel - présent)
  • qu'il faille (subjunctive - present)
  • qu'il fallût (subjunctive - imparfait)


Why cette and not cet?


cette is the feminine demonstrative adjective and "une lettre" is feminine

cet is the masculine one, to be used in front of words starting with a vowel or a non aspirate H

ce is the regular masculine one, to be used in front of words starting with a consonant


thank you, very helpful, i thought ce was masculine and cet was feminine and couldn't understand why it was wrong - it has been driving me mad!


Can you use il faut in this sentence...something along the lines of il le faut a mon frere...?


yes you can use "il faut" as follows: "il faut que mon frère écrive (subjunctive) cette lettre"


Is there any reason why we couldn't write a besoin de rather than doit?


"must" and "need" have different degrees of 'obligation'.

"he must" is stronger than "he needs" in English and in French as well.

To mean "must" to its full meaning, the French often use "il doit absolument", because "doit", by itself can have several interpretations, depending on context.

In this sentence, though, "he must write" is correctly translated to "il doit écrire".


What's wrong with "mon frère doit écrire CELA lettre"? I thought cela was that, ceci was this


"ceci" and "cela" are pronouns (= lit. "instead of a noun"), so you cannot have a pronoun in front of a noun.

When this or that are adjectives (in front of a noun), they translate to:

  • masc sing in front of a consonant = ce livre
  • masc sing in front of a vowel sound = cet arbre, cet homme
  • fem sing = cette femme
  • masc and fem plural = ces enfants


Can I use "cette lettre-là" to specify that letter? I use tried it and it rejected my answer.


Yes, that is perfectly right. I added it to the list of accepted answers. Thanks.


Do you pronounce the t in 'doit' in this case?


The liaison is most welcome, as with all one-syllable verbs.


How can we decide to use ce or cette to say 'that'?

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