"Il avait apporté à boire."

Translation:He had brought something to drink.

March 13, 2013

This discussion is locked.


Yeees. I stared at this sentence for some time. Then gave up and did the old literal translation trick He had brought to drink. Sure enough it is accepted, but I still have no idea what he had brought to drink means.


Probably shouldn't be accepted. It doesn't make sense without "something" to drink.


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.


That's relying heavily on the premise that Duolingo's primary purpose is having users translate online articles.


@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."


Thanks DarrelD.


Good advice, except English is not other languages, it is English! You don't use "is VERBing" in French (e.g. *"Je suis manger" is wrong) and this sentence in English needs the word "something" or an alternative for it to be grammatical.


In a french from english course, though, it doesn't make sense. if you're translating into english, you need to, at least partly, think in english. the languages aren't 'perfectly parallel' - THAT'S WHY TRANSLATING THEM IN A PERFECTLY PARALLEL WAY MAKES NO SENSE.


Yes! I remember when a student asked my 1rst high school French teacher if she thought in English or French when speaking. She said she was thinking in French!


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.

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It makes sense as part of the question "I wonder what he had brought to drink." That would be "Je me demande ce qu'il avait apporté à boire" right?


I would have thought you needed "quelque chose" to add "something" to the sentence. Non?


This sentence is somewhat idiomatic in that "quelque chose" is implied in "à boire".


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


Thank you nicholas. I did not know that. :o)


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.


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."


After further research, it sounds like this is a regional difference. Drink can be used as an uncountable noun in the UK.


I've noticed this!


He brought drinks to the party. «drink» is incorrect there.

«Food and drink» is a fixed phrase. (Though you can also say «food and drinks»)


I disagree; "food and drink" is not a fixed phrase. Although archaic, it is just an example of how the word "drink" was once commonly used. Unless you're at a Renaissance Festival, you're unlikely to hear "drink" used this way anymore, it is still technically correct.


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."


And, by the way, I actually do know of a restaurant, whose name escapes me, who use the tag line "Purveyors of fine food and drink."


This English translation should not be accepted. What had he brought to drink? It's a meaningless statement.


Duo tought me French: it should be "Il avait apporté " quelque chose" à boire or am I wrong???


I believe you will find that this is thoroughly explained right here on this discussion page.


Where's the 'something'. Is this a mistake - or is the 'something' part of apporté. Like if you don't specify a specific thing then it is implied that something is brought.


'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!


What do these four words mean?


Out of curiosity, would "Il avait apporté quelque chose à boire." be wrong, or weird, or just another way of saying the same thing?


It's not wrong or weird, it's a more literary and gramaticaly correct version. Duo should accept them both as translations for "He had brought something to drink".


I wouldn't say it's literary...it seems fairly natural to my ears, if less casual than the sentence at the top of the page.


In British English I would say "he had brought drink". "Drinks" implies there were separate units, like bottles, but I'm imagining a "cubi de rosé' ;) (So I think "drink" should be accepted)


That sounds a little quaint to North American ears, but certainly should be accepted.


I feel like that's different though, because then "drink" becomes an actual noun and there is no drinking verb. There's an "à" before boire, and I'm by no means a native French speaker but I feel like that implies... intention? That boire is still a verb, anyway.


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."


Yeah, I answered the same and got zilched. I'm reporting. And as for it being different? Say WHAT??? The French is missing the description of the object, being SOMETHING to drink. "Drink" as a noun = "something to drink"! Duh!


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.


I agree that they needed a word. DL added "something". I wrote "it" but that was not accepted.


"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.


I wrote "he had brought a drink" and was told it should be "drinks", but I don't understand which part of the sentence indicates the plural.


Perhaps he had provided drinks.


so he had brought a drink.


Not necessarily. He could have brought many drinks, or chocolate to be melted in order to drink it! Your translation would probably be accurate in most circumstances, but is technically not a direct translation.


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.


This is a sentence fragment in English.


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.


If the something is implied here than could I also say brought 'it' to drink?


I believe that would be « Il l'avait apporté à boite. »


What's the difference between french preterit and imparfait tenses?


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.


Nice one. Thanks for the replies.


Joyeux Noël à vous.


Does the French mean that he ('il') is the one that will do the drinking?


We don't know if he brought it just for himself or to share.


Is my answer so off? "he had brought a drink


Yes. It needs to be "He had brought something to drink".

  • « Il avait apporté à boire » - "He had brought something to drink"
  • « Il avait apporté une boisson » - "He had brought a drink"


Google translates this sentence as "He had brought drinks."


Google Translate is often very bad. You need to trust real people, in particular the ones who designed this course.


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.


Sure but that's not a great example. There can be plenty of reasons why a reciprocal translation would be different even with a perfect translating mechanism, e.g. there may not be a 1:1 relationship between sentences in different languages.


Absolutely! That's why there's no such thing as a "perfect translating mechanism," at least not yet, and human translation is much more reliable.


The female voice elided the T in avait with the A in apporté. Is that correct or should the two words be pronounced distinctly? Please and thank you.


I would pronounce the two words separately, but such things don't seem to be "hard and fast" in French.


It is ok to say 'he had brought drink' (singular) as in 'food and drink'. Obviously 'something to drink' and 'drinks' are also correct


"He had brought a drink" also correct.

[deactivated user]

    Il en avait apporté à boire ?


    Surely it needs a quelque chose in there other wise it's meaningless.

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