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

"L'enfant est-il chinois ?"

Translation:Is the child Chinese?

March 9, 2013

65 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dapetras

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DuFarge

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LolaValentine

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShaunOfTheLive

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LolaValentine

I meant for the verb être.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Em.Jayne

Well that's not est-il is it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David4Film

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/djami_duo

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David4Film

THANK YOU for the kind clarification!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/djami_duo

you're welcome :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/duklaak

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...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rasspberry

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gavier

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Theofa

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gavier

Yes it does. But it is still correct French.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SD-77

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdoElias

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Only1EmmaPeel

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/peteraasch

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew48

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."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/peteraasch

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew48

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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LilaLow-Be

Really great answer, thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tatvano

Brillant answer, I was really lost. Thank you!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/justinnichol

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wordnerdporvida

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/56qi

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GabrielleStriker

Why isn't "chinois" capitalized in French?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew48

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ambipath

Hmm I heard chez moi instead of chinois :p


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lauren_dawn

Is that child Chinese? Not close enough?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThanKwee

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lauren_dawn

ahh I missed that ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bagur.gaurav

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew48

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/juankro

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew48

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elizabeth10121

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gavier

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrenchByte

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".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HarisZupcevic

Why not "That child is Chinese"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaggiePye

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kraggy

Can L'enfant be the infant?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaggiePye

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/notsonewbie

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gavier

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"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaggiePye

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. )


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/napalmnemesis

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaggiePye

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."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hadiza5

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaggiePye

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RAULLANDER8

I wrote the boy is he Chinese? :(


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gavier

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bagus.adiw

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GertHamacher

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew48

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/its_averagejoe

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' ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew48

See my post directly above yours.

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/meilonn

Je suis chinoise :D!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Craig.Riley

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elisa932254

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaggiePye

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeWayne119635

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BongoCat.

No he's American

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