"J'écris une lettre."

Translation:I am writing a letter.

March 18, 2013

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It could also mean: I am writing a letter.


you are right. if "I am writing a letter" was not proposed, you should flag it as a mistake next time you meet this sentence.


Thanks, it wasn't. How can I flag a problem?


You found the button to "discuss the sentence", so you will find the "report a problem" button, which is just next to it on the left side. Then you will be proposed a drop-down menu to specify what your problem relates to and you will also have a box where you can explain exactly what the issue is, or propose an improvement, etc.


Or is it possible to say "Je suis en train d'écris une lettre"? Is there any change in the form of the verb 'écris' in this sentence?


after a proposition, verbs are in infinitive: je suis en train d'écrire une lettre.


Why there is no liaison between "ecris" and "une"?


Marking the liaison would be preferable, but the voice (like many French people) forgot it.

For a better flow of the sentence: écri-Z-une


Many French people skip the liaison? How many? Has it become more common to skip it than to say it?


It is the correct usage, to mark the liaison. Educate people include liaisons when they speak, less educate people make spelling mistakes and skip liaison (but not all, because some sentences are hard to understand or to pronounce without liaisons). And in some cases, even educate people forget to mark the liaison, as anybody can make spelling or grammar mistakes.


In Québec, this liaison isn't used very often. I mean in this specific case.


How do you know when to put the appostrophe like in J'ecris instead of saying Je ecris???


If the following word starts with a vowel, you take off the "e" and replace it with the apostrophe. It mends the to words together so they sound more smooth. J'écris, j'ai, j'entends, j'entre, j'envoie, j'habite, j'utilise, j'installe... :-)


Is there any difference in how "I am writing a letter" or "I write a letter" are expressed in French?


They are one in the same. Same for "I run" "I am running" and the likes.


But how would you know when each one is used? Would I know by context clues or something?


When we want to express that an action is in progress at the time we speak, we use "en train de", which is the exact meaning of the English continuous tense:

  • je suis en train d'écrire une lettre

  • il est en train de courir


But don't get in the habit of using 'en train de' every time you want to translate a progressive sentence (I am (verb)ing) into French. 'En train de' is emphatic. Usually it's unnecessary. Personally I save it for when I want to express an equivalently emphatic idea from English.

For example, to say "I work" or "I'm working," I would say simply "Je travaille." To say angrily "I'm working!" or "I'm in the middle of working" or "I'm working right now," I would say "Je suis en train de travailler."


So “Je suis en train de" would make this something like “I am actively" or “I am in the process of"? I like it. Very emphatic.


How can you tell the difference between a masculine and a feminine word?\


You have to learn each new noun with its gender then when you use that word, you have to remember that articles, adjectives and some past participle have to agree with that gender.


Don't get why letters are considered feminine.


You just have to admit it and remember it. All nouns have a gender, there is no need to understand why.


The physical letters are not considered feminine, the word letter is. It has to do with its linguistic origins.


Can someone explain when to use the forward leaning accent mark instead of the backward leaning one? Like the accent mark over the "e" in ecris (write).


"é" is an acute accent (pronounced EH) and "è" is a grave accent (pronounced like "they").

unfortunately, you have to learn each word with its spelling and precise accents.


How can you tell when to use un instead of une?


Un = Masculine, Une = Feminine

Un homme, Une femme


Every noun has its own gender, so you have to learn all new words with their genders.


yes this is constantly where I get caught up. I get that they mean different genders but I still use un where I am not supposed to. How are we supposed to know that its une pomme and une lettre. So confusing.


You are shown new nouns one after another and you have to practice them with determiners as they come.

So, you have to learn "une pomme" and "une lettre", as if they were one word, and not only "pomme" or "lettre". Otherwise, you will not remember the gender next time you come across these words.


Would you please tell me why it's "la lettre" but "une lettre"? In my understanding, "la" is for masculine, and "une" is for feminine.


There are 2 main sets of articles:

  • definite articles: le (masc), la (fem), les (plural) = "the"

"le" and "la" are changed to "l' " whenever the following word starts with a vowel sound.

  • indefinite articles: un (masc), une (fem), des (plural) = "a/an" in singular (in plural: no article or "some").


Why we put s at the end of the verb?


Letters and sounds at the end of French verbs can change depending on the sentence's subject. Here, the subject 'je' means you must use ecrire's first person singular form, ecris. If the subject were 'Elle', then the verb would change to 'ecrit'. This phenomenon is known as inflection, which also happens with English verbs. For instance, "I write" and "she writes". But, as you're discovering, inflection in French happens far more in French than English. It's one of French's bigger challenges for English speakers. --- I recommend not worrying about this detail too much yet. You're still working on introductory French, and there will be exercises later devoted specifically to verb inflection and conjugation.


All French verbs are conjugated with different endings for different persons:

verb écrire (3rd group) : j'écris, tu écris, il/elle/on écrit, nous écrivons, vous écrivez (polite singular or plural), ils/elles écrivent.


Is there any simple way to memorise all the conjugate? thank you.


There are patterns common to groups of verbs:

  • 1st group verbs have an infinitive in -er (like "manger"). The endings in indicative present are always the same.
  • 2nd group verbs have an infinitive in -ir and 1st person plural in -issons (like "finir"). Again all endings are similar.
  • 3rd group verbs are all the others, sub-divided in several categories.

What you can do, until they all get printed in your mind, is to hover on French verbs contained in the sentences you have to translate to English, and click on "conjugate" at the bottom of the little window.


Thank you very much! It's very helpful. Is there any recommended website from you which i can get to know the groups of verbs in more details?


why is "I wrote a letter" wrong?


"wrote" is preterit and "écris" is present.

I wrote a letter = j'ai écrit une lettre


There should be a liaison here, oui?


Optional, but welcome.


How should I pronounce "r" in French? It sounds so complicated.


Oh dear this really helps a lot. And oh dear... This is so tough. Thanks for providing me the reference anyway! :D


You'll get the hand of it. If you ever learned how to ride a bike, then I'm sure you can learn a language.


I don't know how to type in the accents on the letters on my tab.


you have a virtual keyboard on the site.


See if there are settings to allow you to have French as one of your input languages and a word suggestion feature turned on. Then you can pick the right word suggestion as you write.

Here are more suggestions on how to access accents: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/2511843


On many tablets or phones, you can access the accents from the touchscreen keyboard. Tap and hold down a letter for a second - a menu will pop up and display all the accent options for that letter. Then tap the accent that you want. For example, on my android tablet when I tap and hold the 'e' key - ë, é, 3, è, ê, and ē display as options.


Why doesn't she say, "J'ecri-Z-une lettre" why doesn't she tie the letters together?


Liaisons are a phonetic convention that does not overtly appear in writing.

  • "J'écris une lettre" naturally links the ending '-s' and the starting 'u-'
  • "J'écris des lettres" does not require any liaison since "des" starts with a consonant.


What's the difference between je and j' or is it just a contraction like do not and don't


The elision of "je" to "j' " is mandatory, whenever the next word starts with a vowel sound:

  • j'aime les fraises
  • j'habite à Paris

Whereas "don't" is not mandatory.


"Je ecris" is wrong?


Yes, when "je" is placed in front of a word starting with a vowel, the "e" is dropped and replaced by an apostrophe. This is called "an elision" and it is mandatory.


does not sound like lettre it sounds like lett


The 'e' is not pronounced and there is no emphasis on the 'r' so it is more mildly pronounced than in English.


if you wanted to simply say to someone "write!" would you just say 'ecris' or would you still say jecris? as the " J' " signifies the I, so does it mean you leave it out if you were talking to another?


If you were telling someone to write, there would certainly be no j' nor je which means I as the subject would be you or tu écris. You are right that for the imperative you omit the subject : Écris! or Écrivez! for vous.


How does one say J'écris


I recommend you listen to forvo.com with French abd type it in to listen to French speakers.


I want to know why ' suis' is not used. I think that it should be Je suis ecris une lettre


je suis écris = I am write, so you can see by yourself that this is wrong.

I am writing uses auxiliary "to be" + gerund to mean a continuous, progressive action.

This tense does not exist in French.

Therefore: I am writing = "j'écris" (simple past) or "je suis en train d'écrire" (meaning that I am in the process of writing right now).


Is there a difference between un and une?


"une" is the feminine version of "un", both indefinite articles:

un arbre, un homme, un animal (masculine nouns) = a/one tree, a/one man, an/one animal

une fleur, une femme, une girafe (feminine nouns) = a/one flower, a/one woman, a/one giraffe


Why can't it be J'écris une livre?


"livre" is masculine.

You should start to learn every new noun with its gender, like:

  • book = "un-livre"
  • letter" = "une-lettre"

as if the indefinite article were a prefix.

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