"Ils étaient trois."

Translation:There were three of them.

February 15, 2013

27 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/GillSaxton

can't I just say "there were three"?

July 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

That's a different concept because it could be three of anything, and would be "Il y en avait trois."

This is specifically three people. You could say "there were three of them."

May 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Kevin968039

I rendered it; "they were three", which was accepted- it shouldn't have been. Terrible grammar. I am happy to see the actual translation is much better- I am, however, puzzled as to how that sentence came from those words...

September 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Kevin968039

@GillSaxton, apparently not. I just got dinged for saying the same thing. :-(

November 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Frivalry
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Wonder if my nixed translation would be correct: "They used to be three." (Or would it even be grammatical in English, this Yank wonders.)

April 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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[Corrected] Yes, although “There used to be three of them.” = « Il y en avait trois. » would be a more common way of expressing it.

April 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

In this case, isn't "il y a " a set expression, and therefore in imparfait it remains 'Il y avait" (not avaient)? Because the subject is no longer in the third person plural, it becomes singular.

May 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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Yes. Thanks for the correction.

May 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

You're welcome! :-)

May 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Maestraeli

How would you say, "They were three years old"? I am assuming this is not the same...

May 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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« {Ils|Elles} avaient trois ans. » or, less commonly, « {Ils étaient âgés | Elles étaient âgées} de trois ans. ».

May 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/whatever578

Is there a site for grammar rules for words like etre?

June 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/zk89
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Correct solution: "They were three of them."

Nope.

February 15, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/danlhead
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"There were three" is the correct translation now.

August 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/d4nger

Is there any way, hearing this, to distinguish between the singular and plural: "il vs. ils"?

June 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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Yes: ‘il était’ is pronounced [iletɛ]; ‘ils étaient’ is pronounced [ilzetɛ].

March 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/sumemon

Should it not be 'Ils en etaient trois?

December 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

You are combining two things. "They were three"(which can only mean people) and "There were three of them." (which could be three of anything) You are making "They were three of them." It has to be one or the other. But you could also say in French "Il y en avait trois." (There were three of them)

May 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/sumemon

Including peo[ple

May 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

Yes, I think "Il y en avait trois" could include people.

May 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/KimSCasey

I translated this as "They had been three" This was marked wrong. Is it?

January 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

Afraid so. That's the pluperfect. In French, it would be Ils avaient été trois.

January 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Don161647

I'm glad I only had to repeat this sentence. Colloquially, there is nothing wrong with saying, "They were three." I've heard the present tense version of that, "We are three", numerous times at restaurants in response to the query "How many of you are there tonight?"

As far as being about people, I respectfully disagree. Even the response "There were three of them," does not imply people. For example, "How many birds did you see?" "There were three of them." "How many bikes were there?" "There were three of them."

"They were three," however, does highly suggest people which seems to make it more correct if "ils étaient trois" actually implies people.

February 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

"There were three of them" in terms of referring to objects, etc:

Il y en avait trois.

I don't think you would say "Ils etaient trois." But maybe a moderator will comment.

February 27, 2019
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