"Il est avant sa femme."

Translation:He is before his wife.

February 11, 2013

This discussion is locked.


Maybe it's just me, but the english translation of this is very unnatural. I can't think of when I'd say "he is before his wife". It would be more natural to say "he is here before his wife" or "he arrives before his wife", but "he is before his wife" seems lacking. Is this more natural in French, or is this just a duolingo-ism?


As a native speaker (Australian) this sounds completely natural to me and was the translation I typed in.

One situation I can imagine is a couple waiting to see a doctor and the receptionist tells the nurse 'He is before his wife.'


Another Australian here (Sydney). This is common in Australia and is the answer I typed.


Yeah, i see it as a man literally standing and presenting himself to his wife.

"He stands before the jury" litterally facing the jury.

When i type "he is ahead of his wife" in this lesson, it is accepted and makes much more sense to me


"Ahead of" is the same as "before" in this context. "Avant" can be used temporally, spatially, or figuratively:

  • Nous arriverons avant vous = We will arrive before you.
  • D'ici, la boulangerie est avant la pharmacie = From here, the baker is before the pharmacy.
  • Ma famille passe avant ma carrière = My family comes before my career.



Quoting from the Tips & Notes for this lesson:

Devant and avant both mean "before", but devant is spatial while avant is temporal.

If avant can be spatial also, this probably needs to be amended in the notes, if possible. Merci!


Both spatial and temporal references are accepted (e.g., in front of). You can report the suggestion directly at the bottom of the Tips & Notes page.


I would have, but the report button does not appear at the bottom of this particular page, not for me at least. I thought maybe you could refer it back as a moderator. I thank you regardless for informing correctly, but would be good to remove it from the tips as I would have gone forward thinking that avant could only be temporal. :)


Can't they just be standing somewhere, and he standing before her?


But that would be "devant", not "avant", unless I'm mistaken.


This leaves me a little confused too. I would assume devant lends itself to meaning "in front of", as in "he was in front of her in the queue". But "before" could be used in a temporal sense in the same example: "he was before her in the queue" with a similar meaning.


Unless I completely misunderstood, I think I've gathered from some older French texts that the 'devant' / 'avant' dynamic is more or less the same as the 'in front of' / 'before' one in English -- so, it could be said that 'he is in front of his wife' (devant), or 'he is before his wife' (avant). They do carry ever so slightly different meanings (even in this sense), and in more recent times 'avant' may have fallen out of favour, or become reserved for more formal and / or poetic uses, as in English; but I do believe they're both valid. (Someone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though!)


devant - spacial, ie, standing in front of avant - temporal, ie, occurring prior to


As an amendment to my previous comment: I've looked this up and can't find anything (in modern sources) to support 'avant' being used with (nearly) identical meaning to 'devant' -- but I'm sure I've read it that way somewhere. Perhaps it's used that way only poetically?


No, this goes back to the spatial/temporal distinction I was talking about above.


In a queue at the dentist he could be before his wife!


he is ahead of his wife should be correct also


Or He is in front of his wife.


No actually "avant" is used to indicate before as in time, while "devant" is the word to say "in front of".


Yes it is accepted. Perhaps it has not always been accepted by duo.


Could this also be translated as: He is in front of his wife?


In this example,
avant = before
devant = in front


But does this still imply that he's in front of her? Is this "before" meant in the temporal or spatial sense? (Or either?) EDIT: One of the other discussions clarified that this is temporal, not spatial, I think.


What is the difference between spatial and temporal?


Spatial: Positioned before his wife, like standing in front of her. Temporal: Before his wife in the sense of time, like he's going into the doctor's office before her.


"in front of" was just accepted


Why not "He is before her wife"? Does the "sa" necessarily have to refer to the subject of the sentence?


As I understand it, it can be: the sa is determined entirely by the femme. The "his"/"her" part seems to be determined entirely from context, and in this case Duolingo is assuming a heterosexual couple (which is an assumption, not a given).


Grammatically, "sa" may be either "his" or "her", but it will be understood by a native speaker as referring to the subject of the sentence.


Is there a difference between the pronunciation of avant and avons?


The vowel in the second syllable of "avant" sounds almost exactly like the first, but slightly more nasal. The vowel in the second syllable of "avons" is a nasal o. If you were to look in a mirror while saying them, your mouth would be open for the first, but almost closed for the second.


Avant is pronounced avɑ̃ Avons is pronounced avɔ̃ except the tilde ~ should be over the ɑ and̃ ɔ respectedly. (The app I use for the phonetics doesn't go well with this forum).


And the tilde (~) tells us that the sound is a nasal one. Thus both avant and avons end in nasal, but different nasal, sounds.


I can't decode it from the comments: Does this mean "in front of", "before" (in the sense of time) or can it mean both?


"Before" in the sense of time.


there is any difference in the sound between Ça and sa?


I don't think so, no. But only "sa" works in this sentence grammatically.


i don´t get it. why don´t work "il est avant Ça femme" (he is before that woman)


"Ça" is not an article. You are thinking of "ce/cette". Since "femme" is feminine (thankfully), your sentence would be "Il est avant cette femme."


Can you conjugate 'avant'? S'il vous plait?


Avant is a preposition; you don't conjugate prepositions, only verbs.


I translated it literally as "He is before his wife" and it's correct, but I can't understand the context of using this sentence in French. What do they mean "avant" here? Like he arrives before his wife or finishes something or was born before his wife?


Think of the scenario where they are waiting for service, perhaps at a government office or a doctor's office or a hospital.


Shouldn't this be 'il est devant sa femme'?


Devant = en avant = in front of. Avant = before (temporal, spatial, figurative). http://www.wordreference.com/fren/avant In this sentence, either devant or avant are accepted.

  • 1616

DL accepts "before" and "ahead of" as answers for "avant". From the comments it seems this is because avant is "temporal" (i.e. either translation works if you consider his relation to the woman in terms of being in a queue).


Does this mean in the sense of being in front of someone? Like, "Come before me, and kneel", says the King.


That would be "devant" as in "in front of." "Avant" is more like "ahead of" as in "Il court avec sa femme, mais elle est avant lui."


Merci pour ton aide ^-^


Femme means woman


It also means "wife."


could (avant) and (devant) be interchangeable at times?


"Avant" is chronological and "devant" is physical. There may be times in which the two are interchangeable, but I can't think of one off the top of my head.

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wouldnt be better "he is in front of his wife?"


I think that would be 'Il est devant sa femme'


Imagine people are standing in a straight line, in front of each other. You can say they're avant or devant each other, both words apply here.

Now imagine a bank line, where people get a number ticket and wait seated for them to be called by their number. Maybe they're sitting in front of you: then you can say they're devant. But maybe they're not even near, but they're before you in the line: so you can only say they're avant.


With the liaison between "est" and "avant" I thought it said "est" and "devant". And then got it wrong. Is there any way to know the difference in pronunciation


There is a subtle difference in pronunciation between the "a" in "avant" and the "e" in "devant." Without context, it'll just take listening to a lot of French to consistently hear the difference.


If he is in front of his wife, it's a good job she's so much taller in those heels, otherwise we wouldn't see her in "la photoraphe."


"He is before her wife" is not excepted. Am I being too picky or is there a reason for this not to be accepted?


No reason that I can think of...


what's wrong with "behind" !

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