https://www.duolingo.com/nicholas_ashley

il écoutait chanter les oiseaux - he was listening to the birds singing

I am not entirely clear about the use and the position of chanter in this sentence.

In the English sentence I think the word singing is being used as a gerund (noun form of a verb). Furthermore, I understand that to translate an English gerund into French you use an infinitive. If this is correct, why is the infinitive form of the verb chanter placed before les oiseaux ?

Any help would be much appreciated.

August 24, 2017

7 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/ruferales

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkWoz5SyyDk
I think it's an artistic inversion that doesn't work in English, I find it a bit weird too because it's hard to translate it directly, the closest may be "he was listening to the singing birds".

August 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcD50

Not exactly artistic, but more refined than 'il écoutait les oiseaux chanter'. I mean 'Il écoutait chanter les oiseaux' is literary, without sounding overly poetic. 'Il écoutait le chant des oiseaux' is possibly more suited for poetry.

August 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/nicholas_ashley

thanks

August 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ruferales

Thanks Marc, your help is always very useful!

August 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/nicholas_ashley

thanks

In English writers sometimes reverse the word order to make a sentence more descriptive. For example instead of saying:

The tall grey ships ...

you can write

The ships tall and grey

August 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jessy_10

It depends, you can say "il écoutait chanter les oiseaux", but saying "il écoutait les oiseaux chanter" sounds more proper. It is not really a big deal in fact.

August 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/nicholas_ashley

thanks

August 25, 2017
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