How, if only listening, would I know if someone is saying "Ses enfants" or "Ces enfants" .. difference being his/her or these.?
"their children" is "leurs enfants" (plural owner)
- father: his children - ses enfants
- mother: her children - ses enfants
- parents: their children - leurs enfants
You mean if "it" were an association or official body of some sort?
Yes, that is indeed possible in theory. However, I don't know of many animals able to write letters.
How can you tell whether it is "lettres" or "lettre" when it's spoken?
You may want to take a look at the Tips&Notes.
To find them, go back to Skill: Possessives, and look below the lessons. Some users may have to press a button on the right side to see them.
singular : UNE lettre
plural: DES lettres
Even though the plural mark -s is mute, you should hear the article.
If you're not sure if it's "his" or "her" then isn't "their" a more appropriate translation?
No, because "their" translates to "leur" or "leurs" (several owners).
While that's true, if someone says to translate something to English and it's "Ses enfants", then without knowing whether you're talking about the mother or father, you would have to translate it as "His or her children", which is a bit unwieldy, and normally in English you would surely just say "Their children" which can also apply to just a single owner (I'm not sure if 'leur' in French can also mean just one person).
I am aware of this phenomenon, but you have to get rid of your English reflexes: "leur, leurs" are about more that one owner and translate to "their" and vice versa.
You cannot translate "son, sa, ses" to "their", never, and you don't have to: Duo accepts "his" or "her" or "its" to translate them, so up to you to pick the one that is meant.
I am not sure how to tell the tenses, is it true that this kind of sentences could be both present and present continuous tense at the same time?
Present continuous does not exist in French.
So if we want to insist on the fact that the event is in progress at the time we speak, we use a special phrase with verb être: "ses enfants sont en train d'écrire des lettres" (in the process of writing).
It said I was wrong for using 'his' when ses could mean his or her..
Is ecrivent the past or present version because its accepted write and wrote whenever i've entered it
Here is "his" in the test is "her" - maybe you should be more openminded. (Just kidding. PC is not my thing.)
Or "Her children are writing letters." What would their children are writing letters be? "Leurs enfants ecrivent des lettres." ???
Yes, exactly. Two parents and several children = leurs. Two parents and one child = leur
Site, I've just realised the translation is ambiguous to me. Could this mean that they are writing letters of the alphabet? I.e practicing their letters?
"Children" being a plural noun, the verb cannot be in the singular: Her children write letters.
The register of speech is different:
- enfants = children
- kids = gamins/gamines
Why did it say I was wrong for saying 'his' kids when ses could mean his or her..?
The issue is not with "his" or "her" but with "kids", which is the translation for "gamins/gamines" in colloquial language, whereas "enfants" and "children" are standard language.
Is there a way to express gender neutrality in possesives? I've gotten so used to saying "their" in place of gendered pronouns in English due to gender-queer sensitivities that it makes me wonder how to express this in French. I did it out of habit here and was marked incorrect of course.
No there isn't and there can be, since "son, sa, ses" agree with the object possessed and don't give any indication of the owner's gender.
On this course, everything you read and write must back-translate to the original sentence, and "their children" would translate to "leurs enfants", which can only mean that there are two or more owners.