"ses" means that the owner is singular "il or elle" and its plural form means that the object (children) is plural:
"their" translates to "leur" (singular object possessed) or "leurs" (plural), when the owner is plural: "ils or elles"
son enfant est petit = his/her/its child is small
their children are small = leurs enfants sont petits.
"they" and "their" can be used for singular gender neutral or gender unknown owner/subject. I blieve "Their" should be accepted here. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/he-or-she-versus-they
The narrower definition of "their" is 3rd person plural possessive determiner that can also be used as a gender neutral, singular alternative to "his" or "her".
Since such a definition does not match any concept in French grammar, you will have to stick to the broader definition.
Can some of you please take a look at the fact that "sitesurf" is FRENCH, and you clearly aren't! Therefore, "sitesurf" knows so much more about french grammar than you all do. And yes, it is correct that in ENGLISH you can use "their" in singular because that is how ENGLISH works. But far from all languages work the same way as english does, and french simply doesn't. There is no arguing the fact that french just doesn't work that way wether you like it or not.
Since adjectives must agree with the nouns they modify, and since the default is masculine, then if the plural is masculine then it's either a mix of masculine and feminine or entirely masculine, and if the plural is feminine then it's entirely feminine.
So "Ses enfants sont petits" could mean all the kids are boys or there's a mix of boys and girls, and "Ses enfents sont petites" means that all of the kids are girls.
You are correct.
In French, there are two different ways to say "you". There's the singular and informal, which is
tu, and there's the plural or formal, which is
my: mon, ma, mes
your (s): ton, ta, tes
his/her/its: son, sa, ses
our: notre, nos
your (pl): votre, vos
their: leur, leurs
mine: le mien, la mienne, les miens, les miennes
yours (s): le tien, la tienne, les tiens, les tiennes
his/hers: le sien, la sienne, les siens, les siennes
ours: le nôtre, la nôtre, les nôtres, les nôtres
yours (pl): le vôtre, la vôtre, les vôtres, les vôtres
theirs: le leur, la leur, les leurs
There are 2 distinct notions in your question:
Shall I use "vos" or "tes", ie am I speaking to someone I am familiar with or to a person I owe respect to or to 2 or more people?
- Answer: "tes" goes with "tu" (informal "you") and "vos" goes with "vous" 'formal singular or plural "you").
Shall I use "ton, ta or tes" OR "votre, vos"?
Answer 1: possessives adjectives, like all adjectives, agree in gender and number with the noun they qualify.
Answer 2: "ton" is masculine singular or feminine singular (if the next word starts with a vowel sound); "ta" is feminine singular and "tes" is plural (any gender). "Votre" is singular (any gender) and "vos" is plural (any gender).
- speaking to a friend/family member: "ton chapeau", "ta casquette", "tes chapeaux", "tes casquettes"
- speaking to one person formally or to 2+ people: "votre chapeau", "votre casquette", "vos chapeaux", "vos casquettes".
Sitesurf: feedback, definitely not criticism.
When a sentence could be correctly translated as
EITHER Her children are small OR His children are small -
It would be better if DuoLingo explicitly stated that, in the answer. When DuoLingo only offers one of the correct translations, it tends to be confusing. Small point, but it would be an excellent improvement. Thanks for the great work!
We (contributors) write down all acceptable translations for all sentences in the course. (Sometimes, we forget some, but then users flag the issue and we fix it. But that's not the point.)
One of these has to be elected as "Best" on various criteria, of which the number 1 is the translation's ability to back translate to the original sentence exactly. Sometimes, 2 translations are Best, and it is the case here with "his/her" that are equally correct.
For this sentence, the alternatives are: [his/her/its] x [children/kids] x [small/little/young/short].
When you make a mistake, the computer suggests the closest version on a letter by letter basis (for instance, if you enter "his child are small", you will be suggested "his children are small").
When your translation is correct, the computer gives you "another correct solution".
When your translation is the Best or one of the Best, the computer just says "you are correct".
For this sentence, "his and her" were elected as Best. This is why you were not reminded of another possible possessive.
French possessives used with nouns are adjectives and behave like other determiners and adjectives: they agree in gender and number with the noun they modify, which is the thing possessed.
- his/her/its son = son fils
- his/her/its daughter = sa fille
- his/her/its children = ses enfants
Not without greater context, no. Duolingo is teaching us individual, isolated sentences that are completely out of context. But in real life, there will almost always be context to tell you what you need to know. And if there isn't, there's almost always someone you can ask.
If anyone knows if the following sentences with translations are correct please let me know: Se enfant est petit - His son is small. Leurs enfants sont petits - Their children are small. Leur enfant est petit - Their child is small. *This is kind of hard for me since the possessive pronouns refer to the subject in English instead of the object
"Son, sa, ses" are the possessive adjectives matching "il/elle/on" and all three can translate to "his, her, its".
Since they are adjectives, these possessives agree with the noun they modify:
- his/her son = son fils
- his/her daughter = sa fille
- his/her children = ses enfants
You will need "son" for any masculine noun and also when it is followed by a feminine word starting with a vowel sound (to avoid the vowel sound conflict from "sa"):
- sa femme = his wife
- son épouse = his wife
- son adorable femme = his adorable wife
It is called "a liaison" (une liaison):
Using "his/her/its" as translations for "son, sa, ses" shows you have understood that in French there is no need for a plural neutral possessive since the French possessive adjectives do not agree with the owner but with the possession. Making the effort of an accurate translation will help you remember to never translate a 3rd person singular possessive to "leur, leurs".
If you are typing your answer, just go with one. The course contributors are not going to input all the various "and/or"s into the database. It's only when you have a multiple choice that you must select all of the valid options presented to you.
In other words, if you are typing in the answer, choose exactly one:
- His children are small.
- Her children are small.
The following answers are not coded for and will be marked wrong:
- His/her children are small.
- Her/his children are small.
- His (her) children are small.
- Her (his) children are small.
- His (or her) children are small.
- Her (or his) children are small.
"Ses" means the number of things owned is plural, not the owner is plural.
son = his/her singular masculine thing
sa = his/her singular feminine thing
ses = his/her plural things
leur = their singular thing
leurs = their plural things
There is no context to force "His children" vs "Her children" in this sentence. If you're typing in the answer, either one should be accepted. If you're selecting multiple choice, then if both are options, you need to choose both.
What's the logic behind why French and similar languages developed requiring context in order to determine gender? Seems to lead to misunderstandings and longer (unnecessary) communications. With English it's either his children or her children, end of discourse. Ses, lacking context, requires a clarifying question to determine if one is referring to his children or to hers.
There is no logic in language, only convention and tradition. It develops and changes as naturally and as organically as living creatures.
In French and its sister Romance languages, possessives and articles and determiners are treated like any other adjectives and must agree with the noun they work with. Therefore it is always "sa fille" because "fille" is feminine and always "son fils" because "fils" is masculine.
You're accustomed to the conventions and traditions of English because it's your native language, and so you take it all for granted and use it as the yardstick you measure everything else against. But objectively, there is no reason why it "should" be one way or another.