"L'enfant est-il chinois ?"

Translation:Is the child Chinese?

March 9, 2013

This discussion is locked.


"est-il" should sound as "et-il"


'et il'? One doesn't pronounce the 's' in 'est'?


No, never, in any case. If it's just by itself it should be "eh" and if there's a liaison it should be eh teel


Actually, the 's' in 'est' is pronounced when you're using 'est' to mean 'east'.


I meant for the verb être.


Well that's not est-il is it?


Can one also write: Est-l'enfant chinois? or Est-ce que l'enfant est chinois?


Hi, the first one , NO !; but the second one YES we can :)


THANK YOU for the kind clarification!


you're welcome :)


Though I don't know why I couldn't say "Est l'enfant chinois?" was the problem just the '-'? Cause it sounds quite right to me...


Now, I'm only guessing here, but I assume it's because you can only use the form "est-x" with subject pronouns, such as "est-il", "parlez-vous", "veux-tu" et.c.


Correct - inversion only works with pronouns - hence the somewhat strange looking (to English speakers) structure of the original sentence - L'Enfant est-il chinois.


This is not like to have two subjects? One the "L'enfant" and second "il".


Yes it does. But it is still correct French.


This is what the doctor asked my mother when my brother was born, although my family is in no way Asian :)


This is what people are asking me sometimes - even though there is no asian in our family :)


I gave you a thumbs up cos my best friend is in the same boat.


What is the rule here? I mean, could I say "l'enfant est chinois" without the "il"?


Yes, but not in writing (unless you also turned it into a statement). Here, the question is an inversion, but there isn't just a pronoun. In French, the pronoun is added to maintain the inversion, coming after the noun that the pronoun "belongs to."


So does it mean I have to do this inversion every time I make a question?


No. There are three ways of structuring a question (with a "yes/no" answer) in French. In speech, one can form a question by simply saying a phrase with the inflection of a question. This form isn't generally used in writing.

Ex. "L'enfant est chinois ?"

The second way, which is commonly used both in speech and in writing uses "est-ce que" which literally means "is it that" but is usually translated into English with the verbs "to be" or "to do."

Ex. "Est-ce que l'enfant est chinois ?"

The third way, which we see here, is the most formal, and is the most likely form to be seen in novels and other published work. To form this type of question, one inverts the pronoun and the verb and hyphenates them. A pronoun must always be used with inversion, so if the subject is named (i.e. not using a pronoun), a pronoun must be added to the sentence to create the question.

Ex. "L'enfant est-il chinois ?"

With pronoun only:

"Est-il chinois ?"

EDIT: To the above three, I should add a fourth way, which is perhaps the most natural in informal settings. In this case, the first part of the question is structured like a statement, followed by the subject of the sentence (and your voice should go up in pitch on the last word):

Ex. "Il est chinois, l'enfant ?"

Which you'd likely hear pronounced: "Y est chinois, l'enfant ?"

But I would recommend sticking with the second or maybe the first way until your French is more advanced.

And in Québec, there's a fifth way which is slightly different from the fourth, but I won't get into that unless someone asks!


Really great answer, thanks!


Brillant answer, I was really lost. Thank you!


under the drop down translations, why does another translation for "Chinois" = nitpicking?


a chinois is also a kind of strainer. I believe the "nitpicking" is related to the strainer, not the Chinese - someone acting like a strainer, picking out specific items from a larger group.


Yeah I wondered should it not be pronounced more like «et-il» or e-til rather than «est-il»


Why isn't "chinois" capitalized in French?


Adjectives are never capitalized in French, even when referencing proper nouns.


Hmm I heard chez moi instead of chinois :p


Is that child Chinese? Not close enough?


Is that child Chinese? = Cet enfant est-il chinois ?


ahh I missed that ;)


I wrote 'is the baby Chinese?' Why is that wrong?


Because "enfant" means "child/kid" not "baby," which is "bébé." Although they are related etymologically, "infant" is not identical to "enfant."


Why isn't this: Is the boy chinese? doesn't IL means HE???


That's the tricky thing with French. If you say, "Cette personne là, elle est incroyable," you could, theoretically, be referring to a man. I seem to remember something about an exception with "enfant," but I'm uncertain. If I'm wrong, then it means that "il" here is just referring back to the gender of the word "enfant" and doesn't actually have to do with the actual gender of the child.


i am just confused so ya. I don't know what they mean by: the child is he Chinese. wheres the comma??????? or am i just weird? I don't know.


It would sound odd as a word for word translation in English yes. But this is a correct way to structure a question in French. See Andrew48's detailed answer elsewhere on this page.


Well literally it would be "The child is he Chinese", but since that's incorrect, you need to rephrase it as "Is the child Chinese".


Why not "That child is Chinese"?


Two reasons: one, there is no word in the original that means "that" (that would be cet enfant, not l'enfant); and two, the inverted est-il means that it is a question, not a statement.


Can L'enfant be the infant?


Not really. The English word "infant" is best translated with the French word "bébé."


I translated this as "is this a Chinese child?" and got it wrong. Why?


Is the child Chinese / Is this a Chinese child.

Sure these have similar meanings but they are different sentences.
The second of these would be "est-ce un enfant chinois"


Because while your sentence carries a similar meaning, it uses a completely different grammatical structure, so it's not an accurate translation. (It's close enough for casual purposes, but Duolingo is trying to get us to give a precise translation. )


C'est bêtes!! I wrote "Is the boy Chinese and I got it wrong?


Because while "L'enfant est-il chinois?" implies that the child is male (because enfant can also be feminine if you're talking about a specific female child), enfant still doesn't mean "boy." It means "child."


Would either "est-ce-qu'il chinois l'enfant" or "est-ce-qu'il enfant chinois" work


Not as you've written them, no, because there's a verb missing, among other things.

"Est-ce que" does, obviously, have a verb in it, but the clause following it also needs to have a verb in it.

So to use "est-ce que," you'd need to say, Est-ce que l'enfant est chinois? (You don't need the subject pronoun, because there's no inversion.)

If you really want to use a repeated subject, you can say L'enfant, est-ce qu'il est chinois?, but there's very little reason to.


I wrote the boy is he Chinese? :(


That's a word for word translation of the French yes, but it is not a natural word order in English. There is a comprehensive explanation of this by Andrew48 on the page that you should find helpful.


Would "L'enfant est chinois?" also correct? Is this how we use the inversion in this case?


I reported the error in pronunciation. This is a fault that Duo does all the time, I think.


Duo's robot is headed east again....


Shouldn't it be " Est-ce que l'enfant est chinois? " I have a DELF B2 Level Diploma and to me " L'enfant est-il chinois?" Doesn't sound right. Neither does the pronounciationg of 'est-il'. Shouldn't it be more like 'ay-teel' ?


See my post directly above yours.

You are correct about "est-il." The computer is reading it as the direction "est" here.


Je suis chinoise :D!


Just translate it directly and add a comma it makes sense if you do. The child, is he Chinese


Il-means he elle-means she why you are writing does she Chinese?


No one is writing that. "L'enfant est-il chinois" doesn't mean "Does she Chinese?" It means "Is the child Chinese?"


I think of it as "the child, is he Chinese?"


No he's American

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