It does make sense if you accept that, in other languages, "something" isn't needed for it to make sense. For example, in Spanish, "Había traído para beber" is the literal equivalent in French and it makes perfect sense. No need to report it, just stop thinking in English and start being flexible to the languages not being perfectly parallel.
It seems to me that the ultimate goal of DuoLingo is to foster people capable of translating online articles. That is perhaps where they see their profit.
If the translations they are teaching people to use are not proper to use in English, then they have failed at this goal. Perhaps they have added native English speakers in understanding the context of translations, but it is still a failure of actual translation.
@contrl ... and that the indicated translation is incorrect, which it is not. "Il avait apporté à boire" is correct idomatic French for "He brought something to drink," just as "Il avait apporté à manger" is correct idiomatic French for "He brought something to drink."
That's really where you have to be to be conversationally fluent. It's virtually impossible to translate in your head from French to English, form a response in English and translate it into French in real time. To hold a conversation, you have to be able to process it all in French. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just consider how badly people mangle English and you can still understand them.
For certain verbs (such as: apporter, donner, acheter, preparer) you can simplify the construct:
conjugated verb + quelque chose + à + infinitive
conjugated verb + à + infinitive
il me donne à manger - he gives me something to eat
elle me donne à penser - she gives me something to think about
j'achète à manger - I am buying something to eat
je prépare à manger- I am preparing something to eat
Contrl got it right, you can't think of it in English and try to translate it word-for-word; it doesn't make sense that way. But in English, it IS perfectly correct to say "he brought drinks" or "he brought a drink." In French, the "something" is implied in "à boire" or "à manger" without specifying what or how much, so "something to drink" is the closest English translation; there simply is no exact translation.
Exactly so, Darrel. The goal is for the so-called "best answer" to be in idiomatic English, i.e., not only correct but natural sounding in English. Frequently, the literal translation will also be accepted even though it may sound awkward and not be at all natural English. It is a constant struggle.
I think we probably went over this above, but in this context « à boire » is uncountable. It translates to "drinks" or "something to drink." Therefore, you can't say "He had brought a drink," because that implies one drink and the French sentence doesn't indicate how many drinks he brought. It could have been one or it could have been several.
And on further reflection, it is even correct in English to use "drink" in the same way it is used in this exercise. Merriam-Webster gives the example "Food and drink will be provided." And although it is rarely said this way anymore, it would still be correct to say "He brought drink to the party."
I never said "drink" was standard English. In fact, I said it is archaic and unlikely to be heard outside of a Renaissance Festival. "Thee" and "thou" are also archaic, but they're still English and, if used properly, would still be understood by most modern English speakers (especially those familiar with the King James Bible). It's one thing to say that they're "fossils" or "archaic," but it's something else to say that they're incorrect. "Perdition catch my soul, but I do love thee" (Othello) is just as "correct" now as when it was written, but it would be considered archaic because no-one uses "thee" and most people would have to look up "perdition."
'Something' is part of 'à boire' :). Better said, the 'something' is implied in informal speech, it's a linguistic shortcut; and if you listen to a lot of native french people speaking, it will start to sound very natural to you too. Similarly, you would say for example "Il avait apporté à manger".
French people in day to day language tend to skip words sometimes, or shorten them; take for example "je sais pas", frequently used in spoken french, or words like "accro", "ado", "coloc", "manip" etc.
Hope this helps!
I kind of agree with you. It's a very subtle distinction, though. In English, it's the difference between "He brought a drink" and "He brought something to drink," where "à boire" would be the latter. The difference in meaning between the two sentences is so small that, if this were purely a translation exercise, it would truly be nit-picking to point it out. But the point here is the grammar, and grammatically there is enough of a difference to accept only the form that specifically matches. "He brought a drink" would be "Il avait apporté une boisson."
I have been reading the arguments on this thread with interest and a touch of bemusement. When I am talking to my French neighbours and they gabble away nineteen to the dozen (note to self: look up how to say that in French) throwing in the odd word of patois for good measure, I don't always understand every word they say, however my brain processes it as a whole and I understand their meaning and respond accordingly. DL is actually harder, because we have to 'physically' translate the sentences (or phrases, sometimes without context) and although the brain understands the meaning I sometimes get a mental block and I have to try to think of a natural way to express it in English. This doesn't mean that I am translating into English from French, just that I am looking for the best way to express it. I opted for 'something to drink' in this exercise, because I couldn't think of any other way I personally would say it, although I think just 'drink' is also ok. Just my opinion.
"He had brought it to drink"? No, that doesn't work. If you peruse the conversation on this page, you'll see that in this sentence, "à boire" is an expression that means "something to drink". DL didn't just randomly add "something", that is just part of a simple translation of the sentence. You can also say "à manger," by the way, with the similar meaning.
It sounds like in French the word something is always implied. If that's the case then it should be the only valid translation. I was correct for "he had brought to drink" but clearly in French it would never mean that, and in English it doesn't make sense as a complete sentence, you'd need to embellish such as 'the juice that he had brought to drink' but this isn't consistent with the French interpretation.
No, it isn't. The literal translation is "He brought drink" which, although archaic, is a perfectly correct sentence in English. Somewhere else in this thread I cite a specific example from the Merriam-Webster dictionary. But the literal translation isn't the best translation. The best translation is "He brought something to drink" because "something" is implied in the French.
None of the French tenses are referred to as "prétérit", at least not these days, but the French tense that corresponds to the English preterite is called the passé simple or passé historique. This tense isn't used in contemporary French except in literary contexts.
In simplistic terms, the imparfait corresponds to the English past progressive or habitual - e.g. Je mangeais (imparfait) => I was eating (past progressive) or I used to eat (past habitual). And the passé simple/historique corresponds to the English preterite - e.g. Je mangeai (passé simple) => I ate (preterite).
Given that the passé simple is rarely used, it has been replaced by the passé composé, which has the same form as the English present perfect. So the French passé composé now covers the English preterite and the English present perfect - these two situations cannot be easily differentiated in modern French - e.g. J'ai mangé (passé composé). => I ate (preterite) or I have eaten (present perfect).
So for the auxiliary verb in the past perfect, french uses the imparfait whereas english uses the preterite?
Il avait apporté à boire
He had brought something to drink. Or literally: He was having brought something to drink.
OR is the french preterite the same as the french imparfait?
Yes French uses the imparfait form of the auxiliary verb for the plus-que-parfait.(past perfect). The French imparfait is different from the passé simple, the passé simple version would be: Il eut apporté à boire, but this isn't used for the plus-que-parfait.
This is interesting because clearly there is no imparfait sense implied - He was having eaten or He used to have eaten doesn't make sense. I would guess that it's done this way because the imparfait forms have always been more common than the passé simple, the same thing is done in Spanish, actually.
To back up what CJ Dennis said, to see just how bad Google Translate can be, take a passage in English, use Google Translate to translate it into French and then use it to translate the French sentence into English. Unless it's a very simple sentence, you'll seldom get back exactly what you started with. That's not because Google Translate is poorly written, it's because translation is not just about finding equivalent words, it's also about getting the "feeling" right. The extreme case would be translating poetry. Computer translators are still a long way from being able to do that.