1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "She is an African woman."

"She is an African woman."

Translation:C'est une femme africaine.

March 8, 2013



Would it be also correct to say "Elle est une femme africaine."?


This is a rule you will have to apply VERY often on Duolingo. In French, "c'est" (sing.) and "ce sont" (plural) are used in a large variety of expressions, when a pronoun (it, she, he, they) is subject of verb "être" and followed by a nominal group, ie: modifier (+ adjective) + noun.

  • it is + modifier + noun = c'est + modifier + noun

  • she is + modifier + noun = c'est + modifier + noun

  • he is + + modifier + noun = c'est + modifier + noun

  • they are + noun = ce sont + modifier + noun

Note: modifiers are articles, possessive or demonstrative adjectives.



This is a great help.... With a modifier one speaks more indirectly... this is an African woman. Without a modifier one speaks more directly... she is African. I will try to remember this by thinking the modifier makes the subject a little more distant, so I will refer to them more as an "it".


That is a very wise suggestion. Thank you for making it.


Thank you, very good.


So to confirm, without the modifier you'd use "elle est", as in "elle est une femme"? (but since we specify that she's african, we must use "c'est une femme africaine")


No, by modifier we mean « une » not « africaine ».


What if we want to say, "This is Pierre's wife. She is a famous singer", would we repeat "C'est" in the two consecutive sentences, something like "C'est la femme de Pierre. C'est une chanteuse célèbre."?


If you are showing her picture, or if she can't hear you, you can use "c'est/c'est" twice.

If she is present and you want to show more respect, you can use at least "elle est" once, thereby twisting the rule but for a good reason.

Even in her presence, you don't have to repeat the same construction

  • Voici la femme de Pierre, c'est une chanteuse célèbre.
  • Voici/C'est la femme de Pierre, une chanteuse célèbre.
  • Je te présente la femme de Pierre, elle est une chanteuse célèbre.
  • C'est la femme de Pierre et une chanteuse célèbre.

Also note that "célèbre" can be placed before the noun, for a more personalized appreciation on her.


If she were present, then it is probable that she has already been introduced to the others present that she is the wife of Pierre. Thus the "C'est la femme de Pierre" is out of the way and you could begin to refer to "La femme de Pierre" as "Elle". That means you would point to the picture and say, "Cela est elle" or something with the pronoun.

Sound right? I'm still trying to piece together the reasons behind the logic of these rules.


In a dialogue with questions and answers, you will tend to reuse the style of the question asked:

  • Qui est-elle ? - Elle ? C'est la femme de Pierre.
  • Qui est-ce ? - C'est la femme de Pierre.

Yet "elle est la femme de Pierre" is an unusual way of speaking.


Hmm, actually it did accepted "Elle est une femme africaine" (at least when I put that), however I'm pretty sure what Surf just posted is the best way to go.


She is an African woman ("an African woman" is a modified noun) = c'est une femme africaine or c'est une Africaine

She is African ("African" is an adjective) = elle est africaine.


Yes, but it seems in French that they often use an adjective, with its proper gender and number, in place of a modified noun. Am I getting tripped up on something?


No, you're right. That's the common usage but it's not "techically" the translation they're asking for.


Thank you for the explanation!

Couldn't this information be added in the "Tips and Notes"? (if i'm not wrong it isn't there, if it's already, just ignore me) :-)


I think this is a correct solution also, but ok.


I used "C'est une africaine" & it was marked wrong because I did not use "femme". Doesn't "africaine" imply woman?

  • c'est une femme africaine = she is an African woman
  • c'est une Africaine = she is an African woman
  • elle est africaine = she is African

Please note that nationality adjectives are not capitalized in French, but nationality nouns are.


Why isn't "c'est une africaine" accepted?


C'est une Africaine has "Africaine" (capitalized) as a noun.


So "he is a japanese boy" can only be translated "C'est un garçon japonais" but "she is an african woman" can be either "C'est" (btw i don't understand why it's not cette est since both she and woman are feminine) or "Elle est"?


« Cette » is an adjective, not a pronoun. « Ce » is the impersonal, simple indefinite demonstrative pronoun, and it's invariable in both number and gender.


Why do adjectives always come after the noun?


Why do English adjectives always come before the noun?

In reality, 85% of French adjectives come after the noun, but exceptions have to be known because they are very frequent.

Please take a look at rules and exceptions here:




I thought the same thing. Specific since general I guess is how we must remember the difference.


In the other example it marked "c'est un homme japonais" wrong because "homme" is not necessary but here it's okay to include "femme"?

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.