Translation:The woman is writing a letter, alone.
Why "seule" and not "seul"?
"femme" is femine, but so is "lettre". Which one makes it "seule" instead of "seul"?
"seule" refers to the woman, so it has to agree in gender and number with "femme". if it were about only one letter, the sentence would be : "la femme écrit une seule lettre". so in any case, there is no masculine noun in this sentence which would justify "seul" in the masculine form.
"Femme" is feminine, and "lettre" is feminine as well. Seul(e) it means alone, so "seule" refers to la femme. The adjectives need to change the form with the subject.
Objects can have adjectives, too. The important thing is that the adjective and the noun it belongs to have the same gender.
The adjective belongs to femme - she is the one who is alone. So seule is female.
Hey sitesurf Know that this is off topic but there are no regulators in the other one so I'll put it here When you say Sugar is white Why is it le sucre in stead of du sucre
"le sucre" is to be understood as "sugar" as a category.
What is misleading is that the French definite articles are used both for specific things and generalities/categories.
Therefore "le sucre" = sugar (in general) or the (specific) sugar
Thanks site surf Is that the same with bears (The) Bears eat fish
Yes, because saying "bears eat fish" is a generality = les ours mangent du poisson, whereas "the bears eat fish" is specific = les ours mangent du poisson.
Thanks sitesurf You deserve my lingot What I don't get is that if someone said to me Les ours mangent du poisson How would I know whether they are being general or specific
If you are at the zoo, watching over the bear pit, you will know.
Hi sitesurf. One more qst: In the sentence, The woman sells vegetables, the translation is La femme vend DES legumes. Previously you have taught that les is used as a generality (and therefore meaning the woman sells (all) vegetables) and des would mean some here. When do we use LES and when do we use DES Grrr. so confusing :)
"des lettres" is the plural of "une lettre", just like "des légumes" is the plural of "un légume".
"des" is the plural indefinite article that English does not have and it is required to mean "more than one" before a plural countable noun.
"les lettres" is the plural of "la lettre", just like "the vegetables" is the plural of "the vegetable".
However, the indefinite article "les" has 2 functions:
introduce a specificity: "les légumes que tu vois ici" = the vegetables you can see here.
introduce a category or generality: "les légumes en général" = vegetables in general" (as a category)
In the sentence "la femme vend des légumes", she is selling more than one vegetable (like "some, several, a few, an unknown number of").
Site surf one more qst in the sentence how much bread does the child eat duo says it should be combien de pain mange l'enfant. isn't this the bread eating the child why not combien de pain l'enfant mange
Both "combien de pain mange l'enfant ?" and "combien de pain l'enfant mange ?" can be said, because there is not much doubt that the bread cannot eat the child.
But you are right, with other nouns, there might be an ambiguity, in which case you will use the latter formula, as well as:
- Combien de pain l'enfant mange-t-il ? (formal)
- Combien l'enfant mange-t-il de pain ? (formal)
- Combien l'enfant mange de pain ? (standard)
- L'enfant mange combien de pain ? (standard)
Back translation: La femme est seule, en train d'écrire une lettre.
who is seule, the woman or the letter. If refers to the woman, I believe it should say the lone woman or the woman who is alone. Any English native speaker please correct me if I am wrong
If the letter were "seule", as in "a single letter", the French would be "une seule lettre".
The comma after lettre (a pause in speech) also stresses the fact that the woman is "seule".
Dear Sitesurf: I believe the problem is because English is badly translated. It could be that in French you write that way with a coma after the complete sentence. In English, I wouldn't understand who is who. These are the nuances of the language.