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  5. "Ses enfants sont petits."

"Ses enfants sont petits."

Translation:Her children are small.

March 15, 2013

117 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lllouisa

What's the difference between "son" and "ses" ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ratizi

Son is singular masculine, ses is plural


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xyliaxia

if ses is plural, how come "their" was wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bazsan

"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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

No, sentences have to work both ways.

  • their children = leurs enfants.

Next time, please back translate your sentence to see if you get back to the original sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohanneFBeltoft

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alex.gwynn96

When it's using "Ses" how do you determine whether it translates to "his" or "her"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Only context would tell, since "ses" can be "his" or "her", so both versions are accepted by Duo.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Jan 1st, 2018: just triple-checked: "his children are small" is an accepted translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnySkywlkr

"their" translates to "leurs" (plural), when both owner and object possessed are plural *


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mathildabee

That's what I put but I think it would be "leurs" now that I think about it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Leurs enfants means that the owners are 2 or more people.

Ses enfants means that there is 1 owner.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CecileWoll

Sitesurf you know a lot of stuff


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mathildabee

I put "her children are small." Would it be correct to put "his children are small?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

Yes. "Ses enfants sont petits" can equally mean "Her children..." and "His children..."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

@UmairN.Mirza

Context from the rest of the conversation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZoeF4French

Context alone defines whether the subject ("ses" "son" "sa") is female or male.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gtmckee

Would it be pronounced differently if it was "Ces enfants"? Thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

No, same pronounciation exactly.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZoeF4French

So how do people know which one someone is saying?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Either context can tell, or you can ask: "quels enfants ?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fiopon

why can't i put Her children are tiny?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

tiny = minuscule(s)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bow_to_dexter

so, correct me if I am wrong, I answered "his children are small", however the correct answer is "her children are small" if my understanding is correct, you can't differentiate between male and female as in who own the children? you can only tell by context? thanks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

son, sa and ses are the possessives common to "il" and "elle".

they agree in gender and number with the possession, not with the owner:

  • son enfant = his/her/its child
  • sa fille = his/her/its daughter
  • ses enfants = his/her/its children

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gee-gee93

could you assume "his sons are small" because the masculine petits is used?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

no, it is just masculine by default (we don't know that his children are girls).

his children could be 5 girls and one boy, "enfants" would still be masculine.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LarryK9929

leurs enfants sont petits = their children are small ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Yes, correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tratinicica

What does petit precisely mean? Does it mean small in terms of height, age, or both? Are his children short or just very young?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

In this sentence, "petits" can mean "short in size" or "young".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alex.gwynn96

I thought "jeune" was more commonly used for "young"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rumactree

Yes but you still say children are little. When I was little... His children are still just little.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ysnihop

Isn't it supposed to be "es" and not "sont"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"es" is used with "tu": tu es = you are

"sont" is used with "ils" or "elles" or other plural noun: ils/elles sont, les enfants sont (they are, the children are)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Powerofbeds

Is there a way to tell if "Ses" is His or her?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

Strictly from context.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LimYeAng

Petits means his children consists of boys + girls/boys @ petites means all the children are girls?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

Pretty much.

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZoeF4French

it's like in English, you could say "those guys are having fun" to refer to any group of people with both girls and boys.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bagdan4ik

why they can't be petites?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

They can, this version is accepted in translation from English: ses enfants sont petites.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ItalianoDamiano

I'm having trouble distinguishing between vos/tes. So can I say (your hats) "vos chapeau" and "tes chapeau" My guess is that it's just being polite using vos... But I'm not sure.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

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 vous.

Possessive adjective:
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

Possessive pronoun:
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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

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).

Recap:

  • 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".

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SimonThompson1

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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZoeF4French

Why was "his kids are little" not accepted? Duo says "kids" is wrong but it has been an accepted translation of "enfants" before.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"kids" is informal and the translation to/from "gamins/gamines".

"enfants" is standard French and the translation is "children".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xQuadlingo

what's wrong with writing "it's children are small" instead of "its children are small"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"it's" is short for "it is", so it cannot work.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/southeyc

could ses be for male or female? why does it have to be HER children. Also why can't you translate it to her KIDS?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf
  • his/her son= son fils (masc)
  • his/her daughter = sa fille (fem)
  • his/her children = ses enfants (plural, both masculine and feminine form)

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rumactree

Kids is colloquial and enfants is standard. There might be another word you might translate to kids like les gosses (not sure how you spell it).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

The best to translate "kids" is "les gamins / les gamines".

You may want to avoid "les gosses" in Canada though, for it has another meaning.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kate_68

does the possessive adjective change from masculine or feminine but he noun or by the person being addressed/spoken about... so confused


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

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

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

All adjectives, including possessives, must agree with the noun they're associated with. If it's my table, then the core noun is table, not me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"kids" is colloquial and "enfants" is not.

Colloquial words for "kids" = les gamins, les mioches, les moutards, les mouflets, les gosses, les mômes...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/diamondminnetta

how do i know if to use "petites" or "petits"? because "ses" can be her or him.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

It all has to do with the noun it's attached to, which is "enfants". Since "enfants" is masculine, you need to use the masculine form of the adjective. Since it's plural, you need to use the plural form of the adjective.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jimd_92

So just so I'm clear here, there's no way of telling whether this sentence means "His children are small" or "Her children are small"...?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

It can even be "its children".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Yordan365847

How am I supposed to memorize all this vocab?!?!?!? I am really getting frustrated. It seems I can't remember anything!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

By repeating again and again. If you have managed to memorize your mother tongue, you will memorize another language with time and efforts.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AisaMuffin

I thought it said "c'est" instead of "ses". How do we differentiate?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Just back translate your sentence with "c'est" = it is, and you'll see it does not make sense.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AisaMuffin

thanks, I got it. But can we also translate "c'est" as there is/there are or this is ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

No. "There is/are" is "il y a". Invariably "il y a" regardless of number.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lrtward

c'est has to be singular; it cannot be plural

c'est = it is
ce sont = they are


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chezwildig

I'ts children are small? Why "it's" ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Not "it's" but "its", possessive, if the owner is an institution (school for instance).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaddieWigb

small,tiny whats the differance


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

The difference between small and tiny is a matter of degree. Cats are small. Insects are tiny.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MatouDesEtoiles

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/samantha.__.c

1) SON enfant est petit 2) Correct 3)Correct


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MARGARITA34063

Why can't you translate the above phrase as "His children are small."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

You can. both "His children are small" and "Her children are small" are equally valid translations of "Ses enfants sont petits".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dr.klop

Is the last "t" in petits pronounced or not?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

No. Generally, consonants at the ends of words are not pronounced unless they're followed by a vowel.

petit/petits ~ puh-tee
petite/petites ~ puh-teet


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ognjen264743

What's the difference between "sa" and "ses"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"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

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RG8mrA

Is it just an idiosyncracy of French that the S at the end of Ses, in this example is pronounced?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/artturnip

Seeing as the use of "their" to refer to the singular 3rd person in English is now widespread, I don't see any reason why "Their children are small" shouldn't be accepted. There might not be an equivalent word in French but that's fine because it conveys the same meaning.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

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".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Valery860143

Your translation is not correct. It is not possible to distinguish the gender in French from this sort statement . my translation ( His ( her ) children are small ) is correct


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

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.
- ...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/adamyaprakhar

Apparently, "Ces" works as well instead of "Ses". I tried it accidentally and it worked!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_gucciboytae

If ses is plural, then why would it not accept their? Also, how can you tell it was a female and not a male (ex: could it be "His children are small")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

"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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniella.Florez

lol I put kids instead of children and got striked down


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RossGee1

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RossGee1

Would you agree though that it makes for longer conversations? That was my point. The rest was mostly relief of steam.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

I think the difference in length would be negligible. Besides, it balances out. How many times has the question "Oh, boy or girl?" been asked of babies and pets?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/farzadepak

how can i distinguish 'ces enfants' from 'ses enfants' ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arandaneri

Duolingo should include all three equally good answers here: "(Her/his/its) children are small"...and life would be much easier that way :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tameem650415

What is the difference between " ses enfants sont petites " and" ces enfants sont perites" is there a difference in pronounciation?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"Ses" and "ces" are homophones, as well as "c'est" and "sais/sait".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/trillion_42

How do you tell if ses refers to her if petit is in the masculine form?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2562

You don't, without greater context. "Petits" is masculine plural because "enfants" is masculine plural. It says nothing about whose children they are.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KylePatton

Kids and children should work in the translation no?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tony570519

Why not his children?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
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  • 2562

That is also a valid option.

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