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  5. "Son chat est noir."

"Son chat est noir."

Translation:His cat is black.

March 19, 2013



I tried "Their cat is black" but it told me I was wrong, and instead said the answer was "Her cat is black"...

How do I know the subject is a she in this case? :\


"Their cat is black" would be translated as "Their cat is black", belonging to several persons. Here, regardless of the gender, you'll say "Son chat est noir" for "His/Her cat is black".


Actually I looked into this a bit yesterday. In english we DO have the concept of singular 'they', usually when the gender of the subject is indeterminate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they). I think this is a valid translation.


Wouldn't 'their cat is black' be 'leur chat est noir'? (even if you're using the singular they)


I am a more advanced speaker of french then my profile expresses, I have to catch it up. It bothers me that duolingo doesn't explain this nearly well enough. when it comes to possessive pronouns 'son/sa/ses', the pronouns are refering to the object e.g. 'chat' is masculine, so you have to use 'son'. in english the equivalent pronouns 'his/her' refer to the subject. E.g. her cat= a girl's cat BUT 'son chat' could still refer to a girl's cat OR a boy's cat. you have to rely on context. so, I agree that in FR to ENG translation exercises, duolingo should accept the singular 'their' for son/sa/ses specifically.


You can always express it definitively by changing the sentence structure "Son chat est noir" could be "La chat noir à elle/lui" same information just clearer.


Plural, yes. Singular, no. Leur is strictly plural in French.


That's if the "their" in question is referring to a group of people who collectively own a cat.


Definitely ! "Leur chat est noir" = "Their cat is black"


We do have it, but even your cited article says it is not necessarily accepted as correct. It's like using 'good' instead of 'well', or ending sentences with prepositions - not correct, but accepted as a part of every day speech. Hopefully Duolingo is teaching us correct grammar; it is up to us to learn what is used in every day speech through immersion :)


Yes, however if we are trying to learn french and we know that "son chat" is referring to the gender of "chat" and not the gender of its owner, then surely we should be allowed to use a generally accepted (if not completely accepted) gender-neutral term so as to avoid getting called on using an incorrect or wrongly specific gendered pronoun in english.


A lot of those are outmoded forms, and it is not like using 'good' instead of 'well'. 'Their' is fine for almost anything, and in the few cases it's not, it will probably be for reasons of not researching it until you're able to determine the sex of your subject.


Yes, it's complicated. We solved the problem in English vis-a vis not specifying which gender by using the "singular they". And that works in sentences such as "But a journalist should not be forced to reveal their sources". However, would you ever say "their cat" as a singular "they"? In this particular sentence, we know who the owner is. And if we didn't know the gender of the owner, we would say "That person's cat". Anyway, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to allow for this in the programming of Duolingo translations.


In english it works, technically... because we can not say "it's" as the french can.

Should we say, to use the wiki example you provided, someone left it's umbrella instead of someone left their (his or her) umbrella, we woulf sound weird and rude.

The their is only used to shorten from his/her. So because french doesn't carr about the gender of the posessor of the possesion, they would never have the need to use their in it's place.


"Their" is an accepted gender neutral version of singular possessive. Therefore, "their cat is black" should absolutely work.


actually son mean his, as well as her and it.


Also a little trick is to look for the capitalized word and that is usually the start of the sentence.


Wouldn't "their" be using "leur"?

On another note, if the statement was "Sa chatte est noir" Would it be translated to her cat is black?


Hiya Brandon. The French article refers to the Object not the Subject.


"son chatte est noire" is wrong?


You would have to write Sa chatte est noire since sa/son must match genders with the object being possessed, not the possessor. Sa is femine, son is masculine.


I agree with the son/chat matching but have a question about pronunciation. I thought we differentiate chat/chatte by emphasizing the "te" sound at the end of chatte. So chat sounds like more like sha and chatte sounds more like ❤❤❤❤. Thanks.


I understood son is only used with masculine nouns but in the exercise says "her black cat". Why?


The 'son' here is supposed to match the gender of the word following it, in this case, the cat. It does not tell us the gender of the owner. Similarly, it would have to be "Sa chatte est noir" for a female cat, irrespective of the gender of the owner.


Pardon, you thought ' Sa chatte est noire ' for a female cat ??


I tried "Its cat is black," which did not work. Duolingo said it was "his cat is black."


sologkinnz... Cor Blimey Mate, Duo said HER cat is black for me. Think Duo should take more water with it.


I'm sorry, I still don't understand why it is not "sa chat est noir".


"chat" is masculine, "sa" is feminine. The possesive adjective has to match the noun, not the gender of the owner. At least that seems to be the way it is.


Okay, shouldn't "Its cat is black" be allowed? "Its" is even one of the translations for "son."


How come I hear the liason in "chat" when she says it fast, but not when she says it slow? Should there even BE a liason?


There is rarely a liaison after a singular noun, so no there shouldn't even be a liaison in this sentence. There might be a liaison in fixed expressions such as "fait accompli".

However, you will never hear the liaison when listening to it on the slow speed, because each word is being pronounced individually. Also, it's not just a matter of liaison, there's also "enchaînement" (linking). http://french.about.com/od/pronunciation/g/linking.htm

Enchaînement is the phenomenon whereby the consonant sound at the end of a word is transferred to the beginning of the word that follows it. Note that enchaînement is not the same thing as liaison.

So it would be difficult to program for liaison + linking/enchaînement on slow speed as each word is said separately. For example, if you were listening to "petit ami" when she (the Robot) says it fast, you would hear the "t" in "petit" pronounced with "ami". So you would hear "peti tami" (.peu tee ta mee) On the slow version you would hear "petit ami" (peu tee a mee)


Thanks for all the info!


It shouldn't be there. I think it is a mistake. Tortoise got it right. However tortoise doesn't necessarily stay true to the particular task nor, more importantly, to the normal speed of the voicebot. A small but admittedly annoying thing.


I tried "her male cat Is black", since both noun and adjective are in a masculine form (chat and noir) and it gave me a wrong answer


Hi billy. Le/un chat is masculine and so to add that it is male implies that your sentence would read "Her male, male cat is black" when in normal,general context. I think the phrase for a male cat is un chat male (with the / accent over the "a") which would be used in very specific circumstances only.


My point is that 'Son chat est noir' is different from 'Son chatte est noire'. I have understood that in the first sentence I'm talking specifically about his male cat, while in the second format would be his female cat (with the adjectives corresponding to the cat's sex). Maybe 'chat' is also used a general name for cats. Does anyone have a clue about it?


Yes, "Le chat" is indeed general for a cat whether it is male or female. The only time one would need to specify gender is if "La chatte" is used in a sentence and then one would describe it as a "female cat". For example: "La chatte est noire"= "The female cat is black". Be aware that in many site translations "La chatte" will be translated as "The ❤❤❤❤❤" and so one needs take care when using La chatte just the same way as one needs take care using la chienne and le garcon (now never for waiter). Safest way always is to default to masculine. This is nothing to do with Misogyny, it is just the way that French has evolved from Latin etc.


"Son chat est noir" sounds exactly like "son chatte est noire" so how can i differentiate it??


Hi mashelly, If it was French for "Your FEMALE cat is black" then it would be SA chatte est noire" not "SON chat est noir" Note not only Son and Sa to indicate gender of the noun, cat, but the spelling of Noir/Noire.


I thought that when you can hear the "T" at the end of chat that means it's the fem form, chatte? Otherwise it's said "Cha", no??


Mais, mon chat est blanc.


Remember when we were learning chat and chatte? I do, the computer dosen't though, (fr to eng) " his male cat is black" was not accepted.... why...


Whats the difference between sa and son i just can understand it????


Hi shyannelist. Son and Sa both mean the same thing: His, Her or Its (possessive determiner). It must agree in gender and number with the noun it modifies. "Chat" is a male cat; so His/Her cat=Son chat. Chatte is a female cat; so His/Her female cat=Sa chatte. Additionally, if the noun being modified is plural, both Son and Sa change to Ses. So His/Her cats=Ses chats/chattes.


Was I the only one that heard "Son chatte est noir?

Confused me because the pronunciation which was supposed to be chat was pronounced chatte with the masculine possession word of son before it.


This is beacuse of the liaison. You wouldn't want to have two consecutive vowels in French (I think it's a general rule, though perhaps there are exceptions), so you need to enter "t" in pronunciation between "chat" and "est". More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liaison_(French).


@Davecas46. No, you're not. The "T" is sounded and I think this is a mistake. However my French friend tells me that it is optional. I've listened to the sentence on a pronunciation site and the "T" of Chat is Not sounded. On the Wiki site these exceptions and optional uses are noted. So,I assume that for this case one may choose. If I'm ever in France, I'll not sound the "T" and see if I get corrected.


SiteSurf for the rescue!

Indeed I was a little too rash, so I'll correct myself: the liaison rule is certainly not as frequent as I made it sound. If no further sources are called upon, then we'll probably be good to assume that pronouncing the "t" here is possible but optional.


So son is both his/her?


Her ❤❤❤❤❤ is black is correct too?


No. It could be for "Sa chatte est noire" feminine, but not for Chat; masculine. You do see that, don't you?


I still have trouble figuring out if it's "his" or "her's" between "son" and "sa". I know the difference between masculine and feminine words, but I'm having trouble with this one. Any advice?


In french, possessive determiners apply to the noun being possessed, not the possessor of the noun. In this task someone possesses a male cat = Son chat. If that person possessed a female cat = Sa chatte irrespective of whether the owner of the cat is male or female. It is the gender of the cat that determines whether Son or Sa is used, not the gender of the owner. So, without context, or more separate information, the gender of the owner/possessor just isn't known. Remember, also, that when gender is unknown, French defaults to masculine. So if we don't know if the cat is male or female it is Un Chat. Same with a child. Unless we know definitely that the child is female we say Un Enfant.


Why is "its cat is black" wrong?


You are not wrong grammatically. Thing is, what is the "It" that possesses the cat? There would need to be so much more context to warrant its use. With no context one is forced to assume "Son" his His or Her here.


oh, I see. Thank you!


I used to have a black cat.


Im sorry despite reading the comments I'm still confused. So it is not 'their cat' - we have established that, so it must be 'his or her' cat. The answer duo lingo gave me is 'her cat' - so how do we know which gender we are supposed to use? I thought 'son' was masculine so I used 'his cat' and got it wrong.


In French the possessive singular Son/Sa refers to the object (the cat) not the subject (Hiis/Her). Either His or Her should be accepted and if not, reported. But Le Chat is a male cat and La Chatte is a female cat, so in this example the possessive "Son" is used because it refers to a male cat (subject noun).


Ah okay- so because I am reading it I can tell that it should be Son. That is why duo is not accepting her/sa - as I guess if I was hearing it I'd not be able to tell, but we can as we can see it is 'Chat' not 'Chatte'. Is that right?


Yes, Evelina, you've got it. Although in audio-only you should note the different sound of "Son (Soh, nasal)" and "Sa (Sah" Non-nasal)" Additionally "Chat (Male) Soulnds like "Shah" (the "t" is not pronounced) and "Chatte sounds like ❤❤❤❤ ("tte" pronounced", please excuse the apparent simile).


Please explaim the diffrnce btw sa and son, ma and mon, ta and ton... Please its confusing


OK, Seerat, it's all to do with the gender of the noun to which they refer, just like Le and La refers to masculine and feminine respectively Mon refers to a masculine noun, Ma to feminine, (eg Mon Garcon/My Boy, Ma Fille/My Girl Son Carcon/His or Her Boy. Sa Fille/His or Her Girl. Ton Garcon/Your Boy. Ta Fille/Your Girl.) Hope this sorts it for you.


How do you know when to use "his" or "her" when translating "son"


You use either Liliant.. The possessive determiner applies to the object in French not the subject as in English. Son Chat=his (male) cat. Sa chatte His (female) cat.


Ok.. but In this case. I was one that put "Their" because it doesn't seem to give an indication of if it is her cat or his cat. If it could be either / or the "correct' translation should list both, not just her cat. Unless the "noire" is an indicator of the owners gender and not cat...? Which I don't think is correct either.


Oh dear Jen. The course is programmed and thus doesn't cover all possibilities. In French when things are uncertain the gender defaults to masculine (1). Also, if there are a thousand women and just one man in a group, the gender defaults to masculine.(2) "Their"=Leur (describing singular noun of any gender, Leurs describes a plural noun of any gender) Your suggestion "Their Cat"=Leur Chat, not Son Chat" (3) Chat=Tomcat. Chatte=Queen (female cat) so Chat noir, Chatte Noire. (4) Articles in French do not necessarily translate to English linguistics. (5) We English speakers can use "Their", as you have indicated, in a singular indefinite form. The French just don't do that with articles, Jen. Never. (6) By the way, your post is really useful and raises issues which students here who have English as a second language will find most timely. Thank you for the post, mate. JJ.


I get that part after reading about it" Thier/leur. If everything you say is true. Things defaulting to masculine then the correction should have said. "He" vs "She". Or both. If there were a ton of possibilities, of course they cannot list them all. But in a situation such as this, it is very ambiguous. It can easily cause confusion for people trying to learn. I understand "Thier " being incorrect. Had they listed he and she as correct possibilities I think less people would be confused.



"Son chat est noir" can translate as either "His cat is black" or "Her cat is black"

Duo accepts both answers as correct ;)


Patrick, please may I add some to your post? What our Jen is on about is like this: "Whether Jack or Jill come separately and alone at a different time, tell THEM that THEIR dinner is in the oven." This, even though only ONE person is going to be spoken to but whether it is is a male Jack or a female Jill. So Them and Their is singular, appropriate, Yes, before you say it, French doesn't work here like the English does so how would that scenario be expressed in French? Thanks in advance, mate. Happy New Year by the way. I hope it is good for you and yours. JJ.


The word chat is on masculine ?



Yes the word "chat" is masculine.


what song are you listing to this moment?


Black Cats. My song---utube it


So if it were "chatté " you would use "sa"?


How is it that Son can be used as he/she/they. How can you tell which to use?


Hiya Adrian. In French the singular article reflects the gender of the noun they modify. So the gender of all nouns be memorised. Early on in learning it can be problematical when the noun begins with a vowel or vowel sound or is plural. Eventually, with regular practice and use they'll come. So as an example HIS son=Son Fils but HIS Daughter=SA Fille.


Could someone explain how and when to use "sa, son, ses"


Yes,Pat, I can. In French it is the Object in the sentence which is modified not the subject as in English. In these examples "She" (Her) is the subject and the thing that she "Owns" is the object. So, "Her (male) cat"; Is "Son Chat." because the object (the cat) is masculine. Let us look at this when the cat is a female. Now it is "Sa Chatte," which is still Her Cat but as the cat is feminine Sa is used, not Son. Now there are many cats; both Son and Sa convert to "SES" which is the plural and Still Is Modifying The Object in the sentence, (The Cat) Not the Subject (She/Her) So it is "Ses Chats/Chattes. Pat it is the same with Le, (M) La, (F) Les, (Pl) Ton, (M) Ta (F), Tes;(Pl), Mon, (M), Ma, (F), Mes (PL), and Du, (M), De La (F) D' (before a vowel/vowel sound; no way really, of knowing which gender the noun is. Just has to be memorised.) and Des (Pl.). Hope this helps a bit.


In the dictation exercise, the voice said "son chaT est noir" with a hard "T" sound. I was under the impression that this would denote a female cat, spelled "chatte". Doing some quick searching on another duolingo thread, I see that the feminine noun has become something of a vulgarity, so I get why that wasn't the correct translation. However i have it from a Parisian friend that the "hard consonant before a vowel" rule doesn't always apply, especially with gendered nouns.


Does this also mean that the cat is African American?


No, Sonny, ir doesn't. There are Tabby cats, Ginger Toms, White cats. fancy suggesting to which race they belong?

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