Unless you are mentioning where he is placing the bread, then it is perfectly natural. "He is placing the bread on the counter." is okay, though "He is putting the bread on the counter." is probably more common. Without a location. I can see why they add "down". "He is putting the bread down."
This is an eloquent point I'd hoped to find. 'Setting down' seems a more appropriate English translation. The concept of "putting down bread," or "putting bread down" comes off as pejorative, e.g. 'to speak ill of the bread' rather than about the bread's location at a given point in time. This is but one case of a phrase with an implicit meaning in French that doesn't translate to English well when a literal meaning is applied
I was checking google translate to see if there was a difference between 'poser' and 'mettre' and I accidentally typed them together as one phrase. Apparently, "mettre poser" means "to ask." Can someone who knows more than I explain how you get that from what seems like "to put to put"?
I think the closest English verb for "poser" is "position". However "He positions the bread." sounds unnatural.
Also notice the origin of the English verb (and noun) "pose": Middle English: from Old French poser (verb), from late Latin pausare ‘to pause’, which replaced Latin ponere ‘to place’. The noun dates from the early 19th cent.
you put up food (like jam or pickles) when you cook and seal and sterilize things in jars (home canning) or otherwise preserve it; I don't think of bread as something that can be "put up."
In any case, there's nothing in the french sentence to suggest either upward motion, upward location or storage. It refers to setting something on an available surface instead of holding it, and because gravity is gravity, that's generally covered by setting or putting down whatever you're carrying.
Such a long discussion for a short sentence. I just wanted to check if anyone could explain what the English translation means.
I can't think of any situation where such weird collection of words could fit.
'What does he do?'
'He puts down bread.'
Meaning what? When the bread tires to escape, he shoots it? Or he talks sternly to the bread? Or perhaps records in writing every loaf made?
He sets down the bread. e.g., he puts it on the table, so he can put the butter away first, and hang his keys on the key hook. Or he sets it on the bread board, so he can cut it. Yes, "he puts the bread down" or "he sets down the bread" would be slightly more idiomatic everywhere I've lived.
"Put down the X" is, to my ear, mostly used when issuing orders that have to be instantly non-ambiguous as to the direction of the movement: "put down the gun." I would not be surprised if that one very specific usage is "infecting" the ear of people who are not mother-tongue, as it's so inescapable in US movies / TV?
Though, actually, ngram suggests that "put down the bread" is the older form (and in fact, the only one, in the works google books scrubs, until about 1900).
Could be that "put the bread down" has risen somewhat in popularity as the term, "a put down" increased in use (from around 1968).