"Elles écrivent des lettres."

Translation:They are writing letters.

March 3, 2013

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When spoken, how can you tell the difference between 'elle' and 'elles'?? And is there any clue in the rest of the sentence that suggests that is should be 'elles'?


In this case, yes. There are two clues that it is 'elles' and not 'elle'. The first one is the liason. The 's' at the end of 'elles' is pronounced before the é, so ot sounds like "el seh-kreev" The second one is the conjugation of the verb. It sounds with a v sound at the end, whereas if it were singular (écris, if I'm not mistaken), it would sound like "el eh-kree". Dont completely trust this, though...


Oh Jesus, that's very hard to hear! :-O Thanks for the help though.


This is why it is important to be sure to always listen to the normal speed sentence. I usually play it at the end if I need the slow version at all. Turtle speed only gives individual word pronunciation, but its the translation between two words that is so often important when understanding differences in plurality.


You are right, except that the 3rd person singular of the verb écrire is "elle écrit" (not écris). The rest of your comment is completely trustworthy :-)


Thank you very much!


elle means she elles is feminine for they (Really meaning a group of women) ill is he and ills can mean the (It can be used for a group of mean and a group of men and women)


Isn't it "Il" and "Ils"?


'Ils' is used when there are a mixed group of boys and girls (Even if there are 20 girls and 1 boy in the entire group, Ils is used). 'Elles' is all girls.


Pronounce the S if the following word begins with a vowel, Elles is the dominant word for deciding singular or plural, all other words become plural because of the dominating word Elles


Why can "des" be "the" as "another translation" strawberries but not with "letters"?


Yeah, in another sentence it's "the" and then "some". Profusely confused.

[deactivated user]

    Des means "some" as well, though it's not a definition given in this and other examples when you tap the word individually. I'm still beginning, but if my mother language, Portuguese, another Latin language, is any reference, the word "des" is not necessary and you could probably omit it. Someone else should confirm that though.


    Why do I have to write "des lettres" and not only "lettres" like: "Elles écrivent lettres"?


    In order to answer your question I´m pretty much copying pasting Duolingo´s tips. (Very first lesson)

    In English, articles may be omitted, but French nouns almost always have an article. French has three types of articles:

    • Definite articles ("the") are used with specific nouns that are known to the speakers.(le, la , les)

    • Indefinite articles ("a"/"an"/"one") are used for countable nouns that are unspecified or unknown to the speakers. (un , une , des)

    • Partitive articles ("some"/"any") indicate a quantity of something uncountable.(du/de l', de la/de l')


    Thanks...I have never seen any link to tips from the mobile version - just drop down boxes


    I should have looked for it lol now i can see the difference between "des" and "les", for example! thank you, i really understand it now


    I keep getting confused with they write letters and they are writing letters How would we say they write letters?


    The "normal speed" audio sounds wrong, like there's something in between Elles and écrivent... like "Alors écrivent des lettres". Anybody else think so?


    When the following word begins with a vowel the normally silent cue will often connect the two words.


    Yes it sounds like it's purposely pronouncing the "s" sound in "elles" to let us know it's the plural form rather than "elle". But yes it sounds like "elle azz ecri..."


    That's how it is supposed to be. Elles normally ends in an "e" sound, but the next word also starts with a vowel! That's hard to pronounce, so then you pronounce the "s" to make it easier. This is called a liason.


    Is anyone else finding that words ending in -ent sound like that part is missing. The phonetics of this sounds like "ellers ecreeve day lettr", as opposed to what I'd expect: "Ellers ecreevont day lettr". I keep getting tripped up by this.


    When you have verb forms ending in -ent, you don't pronnounce the ending. I think it's because since e's are not usually pronounced unless they have an accent mark, there is no spoken vowel to link the end of the verb's stem (a consonant) to the "-nt" (more consonants). By dropping the pronunciation of -ent, the words sound a lot smoother.


    The pronounciation is correct French, it really must sound like "el zecreev deh lettr" because certain endings are silent. You will get used to this :-)


    Why isn't "They write the letters" accepted?


    "Des" is the plural indefinite article. English does not have this article, so it may not be obvious to you how to use it. But look at it this way:


    Singular: the letter - la lettre. Plural: the letters - les lettres.


    Singular: a letter - une lettre. Plural: [no article in English] letters - des lettres.

    After a while, you will get a feeling for where this "missing" article is in English sentences and you will automatically insert it in French :-)


    So, to answer your question: "the letters" is not accepted because it is definite, i.e. referring to specific letters, whereas in the French sentence there are only some unspecified letters, which requires the indefinite article.


    Very well said. Thanks!


    Ya... In other translations, "des" written as "the" is accepted so I was quite confused when it marked me as wrong


    Des means 'some' right?


    In this sentence does the french word "Des'" will not be taken as a word in English??


    Could you be clearer in English? If your question is difficult to understand, few can answer it. But "des" is actually in the sentence unless my eyes and ears deceive me. In English, you can say "writing/write letters" or "writing/write some letters." The point is that letters (plural), meaning "some letters," are being written.


    Thank you for clearing my doubt!


    I hope I did (if that was to me). Wish I could've done a better job. If you read the whole thread, you'll see that some explained it much better. I try to remember to read what others have written and often find that the very question I had has been explained in a very clear way.


    You said some letters then I would say quelque lettre or not?


    Most difficult to determine singular or plural on the recording.


    Any idea as to why des lettres and not les lettres?


    My question is how to tell the difference between "they are writing the letters" and "they are writing letters" when both of them means "elles écrivent des lettres"


    Well, for "They are writing the letters," you threw "the" in there, which is "les," with the "s" because "letters," "lettres," is plural. "Le" if it were one letter. Now, with "they are writing letters," this is more general, not as specific as saying "the letters," so it would be "Elles ecrivent des lettres." Des is considered more general than specific, I think. If I'm wrong (though I don't think so), I'm open to correction.


    Why is it des lettres and not les lettres is appropriate? What am I missing?


    What you’re missing is the fact that “les” isn’t in the exercise, but you seem to prefer it. “Des lettres,” means some letters, not “the letters,” “les lettres,” which means specific letters. You will find “les lettres” in other sentences.


    this guy is impossible to hear and understand. not even on slow playback


    You cant hear the "s" at the end of elle when listening on slower speed. Confusing.


    I suppose hearing differs among individuals, or it depends on audio equipment and/or its condition. I clearly hear the "s," in "elles ecrivent" as "el zecreve," liaison from the "s" in "elles," joined with "ecrivent." Maybe you should try to improve your listening skills; listening is beyond merely hearing but paying attention to details of what you hear.


    what is the significance of des ?


    Here, "des," "de," is in plural form. It's a partitive article meaning "some." They are not writing "the" letter or "a" letter but "letters," some letters. "The letter "would be "la lettre" because "lettre" is feminine. "De" has several meanings and is also a preposition, notably, "of," and "from."


    Whats wrong with writing ' they are writing the letters ' i wrote that and i was wrong


    Nothing is wrong with it, but focus on the specific lesson before you. "The letters" is not in the sentence or meant but "letters," meaning some letters, not specific letters, which "the letters" would be. They are simply writing letters, indicated by "des." It's a partitive article and plural here since "lettres" is plural. It means "some" in this case. Don't insist on what you want it to be rather than what it is in the particular exercise.


    Why is "they write the letters" wromg? So far present simple and present countinues translation didnt matter while the meaning is same but not in this case and i don't understand why, if it's continues how is it -to write- in present simple then?


    I said "they are writing the letters" doesn't des--> the shouldn't that mean my answer is also correct?


    Why is it des and not les?

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