"Nous sommes ses enfants."

Translation:We are his children.

February 17, 2013

This discussion is locked.


Since we don't know the gender of the owner wouldn't "their" be an acceptable translation for "ses"?


"Their" is plural, so technically it's incorrect even though people say "their" all the time in English when they don't know the gender of the person.

Their child is "leur enfant" or their children is "leurs enfants".


I'll take Duolingo's word for it that "their" isn't an acceptable translation for "ses," but "they" has a long history of going in and out of fashion (and "correctness") in English as a singular pronoun. Many grammarians argue that its current widespread usage makes it "correct" again today.


"ses" only means the owner is one person. whatever the relaxed use of "they" or "their", the French does not allow to confuse a singular for a plural. widespread does not mean correct and it is way better to first learn correct usage, in my opinion.


Sorry, splitting hairs, but he wasn't talking about the French rule- just contesting what the previous poster said about the English rule. As far as that goes, he's right. https://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/they.html (if this was a different arena, I'd probably make a debate of the opinion that "widespread does not mean correct" though, but it's completely unrelated to the topic, and it's probably just an annoying thing to bring up. Aaand back to French.


fyi: "split hairs" = couper les cheveux en quatre


As a (former) linguist, I'm not wholly in agreement with "widespread does not mean correct", although in the context of Duolingo I suppose there is something to be said for a conservative approach. Thanks for your explanation.


There is also a mechanical reason for Duo to not be flexible with this: sentences work in pairs, where each has to translate to a 'Best' version that needs to back translate to the original line.


Their is actually correct usage for singular unspecified gender.


It was recently accepted officially as a singular pronoun this year for folks that do not identify with bwing male or female.


What is the official body accepting this?

N.B.: I am not either disputing your accuracy or debating whether or not this 'should' be so. I am simply curious as to what authority can make such a ruling.


The only alternative is "we are her children".


what about we are his children? look at top, it is not the only...


Why not we are it's children?


whos children are we


"it's" is the contraction of "it is".

if you want to use the neutral possessive: its


Thanks for changing it! :¬)


And then "Its" is a proper name lol


Although using 'their' when we don't the gender of a singular person is a commonly practiced and accepted norm in modern English, it is still grammatically incorrect and not recognized as an idiom by dictionaries. A more appropriate translation for an unknown 'ses' would be "his or her" or "his/her"


Ses can be used for both genders?


Please tell me fast! I don't have much time!


We don't have much time either.

"ses filles, ses garçons, ses enfants"

All plural forms of the possession use "ses", which still means "his/her/its".


What is the difference of "son" and "ses"?


"son" is singular masculine and "ses" is plural feminine or masculine. note that singular feminine is "sa"


Possessive pronouns agree with the possession or with the one who possesses? Elle passait son temps, or Elle passait sa temps?


son temps( le genre et le nombre de l'object possédé et avec la personne du possedeur) - J'apporte mon livre. Ils apportent leurs livres. ( I bring my book. they bring their books) J'aime ma vie - I like my life. Je vois ma mère. - I see my mother. J'aime mes livres. - I love my books. tu aimes tes frères. - you love your brothers. Nous aimons notre père, nous aimons nos parents. - we love our father, we love our parents.( où vous lisez possedeur, lisez possesseur, merci à Sitesurf)


So posessive pronouns agree with both subject and object?


There is kind of a double agreement: a root from the personal pronoun and an ending from the possessed object.

  • je... mon (père), ma (mère), mes (parents)

  • tu... ton, ta, tes

  • il/elle/on... son, sa, ses

  • nous... notre, nos

  • vous... votre, vos

  • ils/elles... leur, leurs

Possessive pronouns have the same root system but they agree with the noun they replace:

  • (mon père) le mien - (ma mère) la mienne - (mes frères) les miens - (mes soeurs) les miennes

  • le tien, la tienne, les tiens, les tiennes

  • le sien, la sienne, les siens, les siennes

  • le nôtre, les nôtres

  • le vôtre, les vôtres

  • le leur, les leurs.


This is all very confusing.


That's the point. I know that ses is the plural form for son and sa. If there are children of two different women I use in French "ses enfants" , I thought I would say in English "their children", saying "her children" it means that the children belong to just one woman not to two different women.


1 parent = ses enfants = his/her children

2 parents = leurs enfants = their children


Sorry if this is starting to seem a bit laboured but is there any suffix, say, that would clarify whether they are his or her children, please? Any different construction? This is a massive difference between French and English, and just as for French speakers learning English, it feels sort of 'out of sync'. We learn it but it is just one of those really big differences. Thank you for all the help the Moderators give. It really is appreciated.


Gendered nouns and adjectives are also a massive difference when you tackle French (and other languages). Instead of "my", French has "mon, ma, mes" to agree with the noun, and logically "son, sa, ses" to mean "his" or "her" or "its". You'll get the gist of it with practice. For your information, the use of "their" as a singular, genderless possessive is an absolute nonsense for French people who feel it is a huge ambiguity on the number of owners.


Shouldn't there be a liaison between 'ses' and 'enfants' ?


yes: ses-Z-enfants


it's children also works


I put 'its' and it maked me wrong saying correct answer is 'his'?


It can mean either "his children", "her children" or even "its children."

The issue is that not referring to a human being by their gender in English is considered very rude. I figure that's why Duo marked you incorrect. That being said, your answer isn't technically wrong. You could easily refer to it in some instances such as; "We have to take care of the world, we are its children and we have a responsibility not to destroy it."


Hi BossaNova1, in English the sentence translated to "we are its children" is incorrect usage. If you had a child, surely you would not like to be referred to as "it's this child's parent"? So it is either "His" or "Her" children. "Ses" works for both.


Careful with the apostrophe...its and it's* (Remember that "it's" is a contraction of "it is" and that the possessive genderless adjective is "its").


Thanks for the correction/reminder Arkan. I've corrected my mistake.


What if it's a spider's children? There is room for "its" in this context.


It is not very likely that a spider's children would be able to testify here, but in any event, "its" would be relevant if the owner were a figurative mass noun, like "generation" or "century", if you see what I mean.


I most certainly do.


@KimicalBurn I tried "We are their children" and it was considered correct.


I said that and it was marked wrong...


Thankyou thankwee.. all taken on board. You also are well helpful and appreciated here. Its understood.. not a chatsite. I'm back to learning French and out of conversation which seemed at first light-hearted and not impertinent. It has been somewhat fruitful though; I can see that humour in one country is not necessarily appreciated as such in another and that is pertinent to learning a foreign language I think. I am old, a greatgrandfather and slow to recognise astute seriousness. I have it now for this site though, I have understood. Thank you for putting your oar in out of the blue even though sitesurf took care of it all eloquently and confidently. I am appropriately cowed by your input.


Lovely and humourous response. Thank you. For some reason it reminds me of this:


"You are old, Father William," the young man said, "And your hair has become very white; And yet you incessantly stand on your head— Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son, "I feared it might injure the brain; But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none, Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "As I mentioned before, And have grown most uncommonly fat; Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door— Pray, what is the reason of that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks, "I kept all my limbs very supple By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box— Allow me to sell you a couple?"

"You are old," said the youth, "And your jaws are too weak For anything tougher than suet; Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak— Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law, And argued each case with my wife; And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw, Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose That your eye was as steady as ever; Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose— What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough," Said his father; "don't give yourself airs! Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff? Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"


Oh! ThankWee how I'd so so love to respond because there is a sequel (Or Prequel, maybe it was?). But a couple of weeks ago I was a bit told off by Hohenems (Moderator) for posting stuff on "Discussions" not specifically pertinent to the lesson and I promised to obey... I've tried to remain in concept and rule. Duolingo maybe may one day set up a room where folk can exchange their experience and "other debates" yet elastically related to learning a foreign language.I do feel there's room for that.You have been seriously helpful to me in other discussion (previous) sites and I do appreciate your clarity and conciseness, as with SiteSurf. Now SORRY Hohenems, I am shutting up now and learning French and is your name Laura from About.com? Hohenems, is it? Nowthen... Plurals, must get back to my plurals. :) Oh! My "Parthian Shot"... I've put a mattress at the foot of my stairs. J'aime l'ecole.


Kids work for enfants too right? Thats what the translation said, but the correction claimed it could be translated to children.


"Kids" is "les/des gamins/gamines".

"Children" is "les/des enfants".

You should adjust your translations within the same register of speech as the original sentence.


kids are the same thing as children


the word "kids" is more informal, and Duelingo does not accept that as an answer. I live in the UK and its quite informal.


Duolingo should include in the "You are correct" section the three equally good translations: "We are (his/her/its) children"...and life would be much easier :-)


Gosh so many words and conjugations and stipulations in this set of lessons! I will keep just choosing practice of this lesson when I reach the end. Definitely don't feel ready to move on to a different group. So glad we can have unlimited practice available at the end. Would be nice if there was a practice available at the end of each level too.


Child=kid or am i wrong

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