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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.