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  5. "Ils étaient trois."

"Ils étaient trois."

Translation:There were three of them.

February 15, 2013

27 Comments


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

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


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


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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kevin968039

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

Yes. Thanks for the correction.


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

You're welcome! :-)


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

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


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

« {Ils|Elles} avaient trois ans. » or, less commonly, « {Ils étaient âgés | Elles étaient âgées} de trois ans. ».


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/whatever578

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zk89

Correct solution: "They were three of them."

Nope.


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

"There were three" is the correct translation now.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/d4nger

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


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

Yes: ‘il était’ is pronounced [iletɛ]; ‘ils étaient’ is pronounced [ilzetɛ].


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

Should it not be 'Ils en etaient trois?


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


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

Including peo[ple


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

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


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

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


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

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Don161616

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.


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

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