"They are in the backyard."
Translation:Elles sont dans le jardin.
How does 'le jardin' come to mean specifically the backyard? How does one distinguish the backyard from the garden out the front?
Actually, Le jardin means The garden, not the backyard. Yard = Cour and Backyard = Arrière-Cour. However, if what you refer to as backyard is a garden and not a yard (it contains trees and flowers), French people will call it jardin, since cour doesn't contain any vegetation.
what is the difference in pronunciation between "elles sont" and "elles ont"? how would i be able to tell which someone is saying in speech?
Elles/ils ont has a sharp Z sound because of the liason. Elles/ils sont will have a softer sss sound.