"Les garçons restent des garçons."

Translation:Boys will be boys.

March 11, 2013

This discussion is locked.


How do you say, "boys are capable of as much compassion and decorum as girls, and excusing their bad behavior because of their gender does a disservice to both boys and girls" in French?


«Les garçons sont capables d'autant de compassion et de décorum que les filles, et utiliser leur sexe pour excuser leur mauvaise conduite dessert autant les garçons que les filles». ;)


Why use "que" instead of "et"?


It is a compound structure, to be compared to the English "as much as", for instance. Here it is « autant … que … ».

Note that you could also write « dessert les garçons autant que les filles » instead, the meaning being slightly different and translated "does a disservice to boys as much as to girls".


Les hommes seront des hommes, et les garçons seront des garçons- la seule différence est la taille de leurs jouets. (Ou prix de leurs jouets).


Thanks, I came here to read this.


So true. I had a similar thought when I saw the phrase.


I came here hoping to see this, but not expecting much. You gave me back a little bit of my faith in humanity. Lingoted. I think I love you a little.


How do you say, "these lessons are here just to help you learn the French language, its expressions and idioms, and are not meant as ideological sociopolitical statements about human nature that need to be debated or negated by a member's own sociopolitical ideologies?"

Kidding. :)


"Ces leçons sont ici pour aider simplement on apprend la langue de français, ses expressions et ses expressions idiomatiques, et ils ne sont pas fait comme des expressions idéologiques ni des expressions sociopolitique sur la nature humaine qu'il ne faut pour débattre ni pour nier par les idéologies sociopolitiques d'un membre"

That was a shot in the dark. I'm still really new at this and that was actually kind of a hard statement. . . ;)


Wouldn't That be terrible. The hard work of learning without the relief that comedy brings. Balance is helpful in learning.


Never considered the effect a phrase like this has, thanks for the insight.


I still havent seen an answer


This only appears 590 times on the web when searched for in Google. Is this even a saying in French?




I am happy someone posted this before me ❤




@xMira_ okay, I give up, give it back to me.


Well, I would say that while this saying is indeed rather unpleasant, that's not on Duolingo. What Duolingo is doing is presenting French and giving English translations, so that we can learn. I don't think these phrases necessarily should be interpreted as being endorsements of the idea(l)s behind them. Sometimes there are some kind of mean sentences, and it might be that the learner never wants to use them, but it's still fair to learn them so as to be able to recognize and understand them when others use them to or around the learner.

So I would say instead, "Yuck, this saying".


Why doesn't the "The boys are staying boys" work? Sure, it's awkward but it has the same general meaning.


I mean, I replied "the boys stay boys" and it was correct.


My answer was a common expression used in English - "boys will be boys!" and it worked


I know the contempary social context causes this common expression in English to be pregnant with volatile interpretation - I'm "a boy" myself and for this expression to mean that "boys"'s despicable behaviour should be condoned is absolutely unacceptable!


Boys' behaviour isn't innately despicable, you know.


This is not why we are here. Keep sociopolitics out of Duo, please and thank you.


I think I'm confused. How does one expect to learn a language divorced from culture (which consists, in part, of "sociopolitics")?


Since it's an expression, it won't necessarily translate literally. In English, the "will be" and "stay" are conjugated in future, whereas "are staying" is present.


"The boys stay boys" worked for me


I agree. The [big] boys are not acting their age; they continue to act like [little] boys. Also called the Peter Pan syndrome. "Boys will be boys" is idiomatic, whereas "The boys are staying boys" is a literal translation but also perfectly acceptable English and grammatically correct.


What about "boys keep boys"? Since nobody (among so many native speakers) has said so, I assumed It can't be correct; but I can't help liking It (gramaticaly speaking, of course). Could anyone explain me why It is wrong? Thanks !(obviously I am not English-speaker)


This means that boys remain boys. "keep" when used with people means that boys hold boys and don't let them go. The expression is "Boys will be boys." for big boys that continue to act like little boys. It is not necessarily about bad behavior, but this expression has been used in the past by some to excuse bad behavior.


Just a suggestion: this exercise might be better in the sections on idioms.


Boys will be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else


We understand human nature and there will still be consequences.


Why is it "Les ... des ..."? (As opposed to e.g. "Les ... les ..." or "Des ... les ...".)


I 2nd the question . Why are Les and Des used in their respective positions in the sentence? ( and not les,,, les or des...... des) etc


I would guess because it's saying that THE boys stay as boys in general/ stay a bunch of boys. Not SOME boys stay THE boys or THE boys stay THE boys


Well, that doesn’t work for an explanation, because French uses the definite article for generalizations, unlike English. The first instance “Les garçons....” is actually the generalization form which leads to “Boys...” in English. Maybe the French expression is less bad than the English one? Boys will remain (indefinite amount) boys. Yes, they never grow up, but only some of them?


What if the boys are actually staying with some boys? How would this not work? And "will be" not present tense, which is what we are studying. Help!


I think, if the boys are staying with some boys it means "Les garcons restent avec des garcons"


why not place this with your idiom lessons and we'd be prepared for it?


Is this an actual expression?


I checked google.fr and there are a few thousand places where this appears verbatim in french to mean "boys will be boys"


If it Wasn't, it is now. We just translated it.


It is in English.


I meant in French...


Duo offers it as such. Advanced French speakers on this board have not objected.


This makes absolutely no sense! The only phrase I think is acceptable is Boys will take responsiblitity for their actions just like any other person


It makes as much sense to me as "Owls drink beer". Besides, this is an actual phrase that is still in use with a precise meaning (just like some French court decided to acquit a defendant who had fought with the plaintiff judging « C'est gaulois! »: "it is a Gaul's nature"). Whether we like it or not is not really relevant.


This phrase makes me so mad every time I hear it!


Well, if the words take control of your emotions, you could always put your Fingers in your ears? Or perhaps not take it quite so Intensely Serious...


Non-harmfull acts such as liking cars, playing games or going biking can just as easily hold this idiom. It sounds like you are "so mad" because you are projecting a negative view of groups onto it. Even when it's a bad act, saying boys "will be" something isn't itself saying the act it justified, of the hook or anything of the sort. It also doesn't necessitate that the same logic doesn't get applied to other groups.


Shouldn't we leave idiomatic phrases like these in a different section? Right along phrases like "the grass is always greener" and "the early bird gets the worm"?



When i see this phrase I think of two boys playing in the mud and their mothers laughing and saying oh "boys will be boys"

I like how now its a sexist thing to say this lol jesus.


Boys will be boys is a very old English and French saying. Live with it.


It seems that Duo is not ideologized by gender studies ;)


Why les and then des as opposed to des and des or les and les ?


The first one just has to be « les » because it is referring to boys in general, all the boys. Using « des » instead would mean that the sentence applies only to some boys or some particular boys.

The second one doesn't refer to “boys in general” but rather to the “characteristics of boys”, pretty much like a substance and its characteristics. So it must be « des » (de les).

Yes, that's a tricky one.


Crap! Wait a minute! Glat64, is actually asking a question relevant to the phrase. Dear Lord I pray someone answers


@kat137: To say the boys stay with (some) boys, I believe the French would be: "Les garçons restent avec des garçons" or "Les garçons restent entre garçons". And you're right, that "will be" is future, so perhaps this sentence should not be in this section.


Advanced students on this board say that the French present tense is sometimes used to indicate the future. In English, boys will be boys is a common phrase that employs the future tense.

Most of the time, when this phrase is used in English, it is a comment on current behavior not speculation about likely future possibilities. It is actually an acknowledgement of the past and the present. It is cast in the future to suggest an expectation the current behavior will be continued.


Well.......it can refer to the future though.

You could be talking about a weekend away with your mates next month, and I asked you what you would be doing. You might say "Playing golf, watching footy and drinking beer" and I could say "yeah, right. Boys will be boys, huh?"


But that is an expectation that current/past behaviour will be continued, is it not?


I don't understand this sentence. I don't get it


It is an idiom. It is usually used when a boy or a man does something that is considered 'typical boy-like' , like getting exited when he sees a sports car, staring at the waitress' bum, trying to impress a girl or guy but failing, etc.

This sentence seems to upset a lot of people who have a very fixed mindset


Pim, this phrase is most commonly used in current English (especially in the States) to excuse bad behaviour based on gender. To argue otherwise would be disingenuous or wilfully ignorant.

It may once have been innocent enough, but the associations and inferences it now holds quite rightly makes a lot of people ill.


@loladesu, maybe that's why "I" see everyone over-reacting, I am old. It still Is an innocent expression to me.


@TheDidact, stating the obvious to the oblivious doesn't seem to be working yet. But I admire the dispassionate reasoning... I'd heard rumours it was extinct... Please stick around.


Isn't this one a verse from a Paulina Rubio's song? (Don't wanna get involved in sexism argunents)


I came here to see if anyone knows Benny's song..


Why do you use 'les' at first and then 'des'?


That's a tricky one, and it is greatly tempting to answer "It's an idiom, and it's the way it is". Let me have a try at explaining why it is like this, even though it's just my take on it.

The first « Les garçons » is embracing all boys, by selecting the gender (and young age). The second « des garçons » is expressing "some boys" or if you expand it "some people with the attributes of boys".

You can actually put that in practice in many other sentences :

Le bois provient des arbres = Wood comes from trees

Le pain, c'est de la farine! = Bread is flour!

La neige fondue devient de la pluie = Melted snow becomes rain.

In all cases, there is the same structure : general subject + verb + some constituent of the subject.


Awesome this is super helpful. Could u translate those other sentences for me? That would help me get a feel for where this is the right construction.


Edited the first post with the translations. :)


But how do the French express: generalised subject + verb = (members of a different generalised group) eg "Nightmares are dreams." or "Dreams can become nightmares."?


Duo will be Duo


The negative backlash to this idiom astounds me. As a mother of 3 grown boys, this idiom doesn't just refer to a bad behavior. Nor is this an expression to excuse that behavior. By genetic design boys and girls operate, interpret and live life very differently. Consider how boys and girls greet close friends. MOST of the time boys will bump shoulders, fist bump or just nod to each other where girls are generally more affectionate and likely to hug each other. My boys often greeted each other or their friends in the most masculine, and often ridiculous ways. There were many times I would laugh, shake my head and say "boys will be boys." My boys and their friends were constantly wrestling each other, rough housing and being goofs where these behaviors are rarely exhibited by girls (I'm of one three sisters) . At our basic level, we are still animals, born with the same instincts and base natures that all males and females in the animal world have. There's nothing mysogonist about it, nor is it "just an excuse" for boys bad behavior. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. Seriously, lightened up a bit people.


By genetic design

Consider how boys and girls greet close friends.

Right, because greeting is totally genetic.


THREE whole boys?? Don't overdo the sample sizes there, Dr. TaraConklin


i answered "the boys will be boys" instead of "boys will be boys" why was i counted wrong? isn't "les" when u say "the" and "des" when u omit??? I know its a common phrase but why was I wrong with a literal translation?


Would, Les garcons sera les garcons, work?


anyone think of BENNY after reading this? ;P


This is a language learning site, not a political forum. If you wish to spew, go to Facebook. We are trying to learn French here. Your point about all the deeper more profound implications of Les garcons.... etc, has been made. If you do not wish to discuss language get off of this site.


Sure, because language is totally devoid of any cultural implications!


@Stephen, merci beaucoup. You deserve the last word. Eloquently phrased.


Why not put this one in idioms lesson?


The translation immediately made me think of Benny's "Boys will be boys", it's a great song. I was doing the select the missing word exercise, if I had to translate this myself I think I might've put "The boys are staying boys". As an idiom this is a little frustrating as it's in present tense but when translated becomes future.


@StarlightWalker, I am playing "lickety split" just for you.


I don't condone violence against girls/women. However, we need to look at these language learning lessons objectively. Analogy: A lot of awful things happened in the past, but does this mean they should be completely removed from the history books? I actually think we should know about them, learn from them and ensure the mistakes aren't repeated. As some users previously mentioned, the expression is often a reference to innocent things, like boys playing in the mud, talking about airplanes, bragging about how cool their grandfather is. Knowing an expression isn't an issue, using it under inappropriate circumstances can be an issue.


Totally an idiom and should be in that module.


How do you say 'give me a break!'


If we are translating directly and not implying another concept/saying, then it should read, "Les garçons seront les garçons". "Will be" implies future tense, not present. Sayings become tricky to those who are not familiar with the meaning or implication of the words being put together to form an adage.


Yes and no. Technically it does but this is idiomatic English and the expression "boys will be boys" in English does not refer to the future activities of boys but rather to the stereotypical nature of their present activities.


There is no sense of futurity in "boys will be boys"; rather it implies a sense of resolve or determination, or even of that is the way things are. Trouble is, in English the formation of the future tense in general is mixed up with the present tense of the verb "to will": future tense is I shall, you will, he/she/it will, we shall, you will, they will; the present tense of "to will" (or "to be obliged to") is the converse of this: I will, you shall, etc. Strictly speaking, it should be "boys shall be boys", but that's idiom for you. Excuse the grammatical detour but I find grammar fascinating.


I disagree about the futurity of "boys will be boys", and submit that the French is the way it is simply because the idiom exists that way in the French.


I think you'll find that the French idiom is actually: "Un homme reste un homme.".


Answer to Wunel: Similarity between the two idioms that ("Boys will be boys." and " "you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear ". that the silk purse will be silk purse. From a bad thing we can't do a good thing. We can't change its nature -ironically they can be synonyms, I think so.


The boys remain as boys is equally correct right? DL isnt accepting it


The boys remain boys, but not remain as.


The 'will be' in this sentence does not mean as in they'll become boys in the future, but rather in the sense that they never change, boys never grow up, etc...


This idiom like came out of nowhere, but while examining I thought that it seemed a bit familiar. Interesting way of putting it though...


What about 'The boys stay as boys'?


can't you say the "the boys stay as boys"?


You can in a Peter Pan movie.


It is a phrase so it can not be literally translated. A bit unfair I admit.


Just to confirm, is this saying actually used in french?


Yes it is. We also have « Les chiens ne font pas des chats » (meaning bad parents make bad children, and good parents make good children, or any other characteristic you can think of that could potentially inherited) among so many other quite controversial/backward/aged/... but also sometimes true sayings.


Why isn't the literal translation, the boys stay with the boys, accepted as well?


"with the boys" = « avec les garçons »


Just a thought (beyond linguistics): What do people think about when they say this sentence?


I think of a boy with a toy car growing into a boy with a sports car.


is there another way to say this


Why "Boys stay boys" is wrong?

[deactivated user]

    I take it that it means "The boys stay with the boys".


    No it doesn't. "stay with the boys" would be « restent avec les garçons ».


    the literal translation should be accepted if you do not know it is supposed to be a colloquial expression.


    It's Beret Girl from An Extremely Goofy Movie! Always wondered what that line would sound like in French!


    Duolingo, 'the boys REMAIN boys...' is much better.. Isnt 'will be' confusing?


    Not for native English speakers who are familiar with the expression. And if English isn't your native language, well, then you are learning more about that, too. In cases involving people's behavior, "will be" emphasizes that they are set in their ways and are unchangeable, and are never going to change. "Remain" has a weaker denotation, more suitable for something that merely happens to be the same as it was before.


    I thought of it not as an expression but as the 'will' of the future tense... No I am not native with latin languages as you guessed)) To make easier to remember, I tend to formulate like math; this equals to this etc., I also tend to make connections between similar words of two languages, remain sounded closer to restent ))) Anyways, good explanation and info, thanks a lot )).


    boys will be boys


    Les garçons sont capables d'autant de compassion et de décorum que les filles, et utiliser leur sexe pour excuser leur mauvaise conduite dessert autant les garçons que les filles


    I know I am a little bit late to this discussion but those who think Duo or any other website or anyone who is teaching a language isn't responsible for the phrases they use, they are horribly mistaken. By teaching a language you are teaching the culture as well, but regarding this topic don't you think we should start leaving out the phrases that were used when making excuses for people? or just generally aren't improving our behavior? the reason why we are moving so slow in terms of humanity is that we are always whining about why we should be more careful about what we say and how we act. I am extremely happy that in this discussion ignorant comments didn't get any undeserved likes. Language learners kudos to you.


    Why do you think the worse? My husband and I have two sons and when they were being rambunctious we would joke "boys will be boys". They were children and behaving as, well, boys. If you are reading an extra meaning into the wording then maybe you should be looking at yourself and your mind - is it in the gutter?


    I went with, "the boys remain boys" and it got accepted, which I feel is slightly more ok.


    Good Grief! I've never seen such a response to a phrase. One thing is perfectly clear- no one lacks an opinion.


    How do you get "boys will be boys " our of that???


    Technically it means “boys will remain boys.” The English expression “boys will be boys” means that boys will act like boys. So the two sentences seem similar. The French seems to emphasize that when they grow up that they will still act like boys. The toys just get bigger and more expensive, like a sports car. The English seems to emphasize that we cannot expect them to act differently, since they will always be boys, how can they act like something that they are not - which would be okay if you expect a lot of great things from boys. Some people misuse this expression to excuse bad behavior which is wrong. Bad behavior is not what boys are designed to do. So, if boys will be boys, then someone should find out why the boys are acting out of character, because when boys are little they do not do the kinds of things that people tend to excuse with this expression.


    221 comments, yikes.


    is it wrong to say the boys remain boys?

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