Translation:Years, days, hours, how many?
Maybe "Hours? Days? Years??? How long?!" I can't imagine saying it the way Duo has it here though.
In the very last question "des ans" translated as "some years", when would you use that instead of "des annees"?
This should help! :)
I got to read this and then I read the sentence again and I dont understand why they use the feminine version in "annee" but not in "jour". (des annees, des journees )Is it not the same situation?
an and année are more flexible than others and could more or less be used interchangeably.
Here's a quote from the link above: "However, note that an/année is far more flexible than the other pairs; for "last year" you can say l'an dernier or l'année dernière, "next year" can be l'an prochain or l'année prochaine, etc"
Found this, looks useful. http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/an-annee-jour-journee-matin-matinee-soir-soiree.htm
What's the rationale for using the longer feminine "anne'es" but all the others in the masculine short form? Can't find any grammar help. Is it to do with making a list?
It has nothing to do with short v. long, let alone masculine v. feminine, rather with the perception and standard usage. While an and année share the meaning of Durée conventionnelle voisine de la période de révolution de la Terre autour du Soleil, the latter is associated with a period 12 month long, starting at any moment of time, whereas an starts on January the 1st.
The above is a non-native's analysis
According to Larousse, "l'an" has to do with a 12-month duration, whereas "l'année" has to do with a "calendar <ou> civil year". So one might refer to "l'année 1789", for example. This also helps us understand why a person would say "J'ai 30 ans" instead of "J'ai 30 années" to express their age.
All your questions about l'an vs. l'année, le jour vs. la journée, le soir vs. la soirée, le matin vs. la matinée, are answered here: http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/an-annee-jour-journee-matin-matinee-soir-soiree.htm It will require a thoughtful reading to master it but it is all there.
In english, we distinguish between how much and how many (when referring to uncountable and countable things, respectively). Does the same distinction exist in french, or is it always combien?
Yes. French uses des for countable objects, and du for uncountable masculine, de la for uncountable feminine. However, it uses just "de" when using the negative, ie "Je n'a pas de pain". And keep in mine that you use "de l' " for stuff using vowels.
Shouldn't this sentence have a semicolon or an em-dash before "combien/how many?"
It would seem to make more sense in English, but I'm still not very familiar with French punctuation conventions, so I don't know if that works.
It is confusing to read because "combien/how many" is a separate clause that should be distinguished from the preceding series by something stronger than a comma.
interesting point, there are a few differences in the punctuation between English and French, and I'd really like to know this one.
Normally English would not use this construction at all, IMO. We'd put the "How many. . . .?" upfront.
Incidentally, this is also a line from a song called "Combien de temps encore" by Jean-Loup Dabadie. This guy seems also to be a member of the Académie française . Could also be coincidence.
"Years,.......hours. how long?" Is a better translation OR Combien années, .. etc.
I don't see why putting the how many at the beginning is wrong either? I was careful not to put in 'and', though it does makes more sense. In the past there has been no problem with reversing the order so why not this time?
You can easily imagine the context for this sentence, and if you do you'll see that the "combien" is not referring to the years, the days and the hours but to time itself, hence "how much".
Say you have an accident and you lose the sensitivity of your legs and the doctor says to you "It will take time for it to come back". Your response would be somewhat like this, I'm sure.
What would be a real-world situation/ context in which one would use this phrase?
"You say the end of the world is coming soon. I need to know exactly how much time I have left. Years, days, hours, how many? "Why?", you ask. Because I need to call my broker and tell him when to sell all my stocks and move to cash ".
it`s kinda like short for "will it be in years, days, or hours? How many?" ... i think ...
I think it's really got to be "How long?" in years/days/hours. (Do we speak of "how much" in time, in English?)
I've failed this lesson about 6 times now, it always starts with this one. Just copy it so you can paste it later if you suck as much as me
Why did Duo just give me "SOME years , days ,hours, how many" as the correct answer. Are both versions correct?
If yes, why is the answer not "Some years, some days, some hours, how many"?
Makes little sense but that is frequently the case here in DuoLand!