"We are eating beef, except for my wife."

Translation:Nous mangeons du bœuf, sauf ma femme.

February 26, 2018

This discussion is locked.


Why is it "du boeuf" and not "de"


De + le = du which is means (some) for uncountable masculine things like "viande" or "lait" or "pain".

I would like (some) milk. = Je voudrais du lait.

"de" is a preposition that means "of" (or to, from, by). Here are some common expressions that use de.

J'ai beaucoup de pommes. = I have a lot of apples.
J'ai peu de temps. = I have little time.
Je veux plus d' argent. = I want more money.


here's a list of contracted with examples to help you out

de un --- d'un (j'ai besoin d'un livre -- I need a book) (countable)

de le --- du (j'ai besoin du livre -- I need the book) (countable)

de un --- de (j'ai besoin de sucre -- I need sugar) (uncountable)

de le--- du (j'ai besoin du sucre -- I need the sugar) (uncountable)

de des ---- de (j'ai besoin de livres -- I need books)

de les --- des (j'ai besoin des livres -- I need the books)


As if his wife is also made of beef


Some of us are pointing out that this sentence seems to mean that «my wife / ma femme» is a bœuf.

I wonder if it is because of the word order. Perhaps «except for» and «sauf» would have to be farther from the meal and nearer the «eaters» (because it is of them that my wife is an exception, not of the beef)

For instance:

  • Except for my wife, we are eating beef.

  • À l'exception de ma femme, nous mangeons du bœuf.

Qu'en pensez-vous? What do you thing about it?.

Thank you for any comment


Common sense should prevail in such a case. But technically, you are right.


Thank you Sitesurf. I can.agree with your explanation for this.specific case.

But what about other messages less «dramatical»? (Messages that «common sense» could understand in two different -or even opposite- ways?)

According to your answer, I am «technically right». Does it mean that the position of the.words in the sentence (in any sentence) should follow the rule: «everything near its own exceptions, conditions, particularities... ? Or isn't there such a rule neither in French nor in English?

Today's sentence has made me.realize that a confusing order could drive any sentence misunderstood.

Thanks for any explanation about


Just like English speakers, we try to be clear an avoid ambiguities. The sentence here does not pose any problems in French but it could be rephrased as you suggest. We could even add "tous", so that "femme" is even closer to "nous": à l'exception de ma femme/à part ma femme, nous mangeons tous du boeuf.

I am not sure there is a written rule about "everything near..." but we have conventions which tend to reduce ambiguities. For instance, "the object belongs to the subject" is particularly relevant when the subject is 3rd person singular.

"Il parle à sa voisine": this simply never means that he is talking to somebody else's neighbor. By defaut, the neighbor is "his" and if there is a 3rd party in the picture, we add it: "Il parle à sa voisine à elle" is what "he speaks to her neighbor" means. If the 3rd party is masculine singular as well, we'll add another hint or a name.


I really appreciate your explanations and comments, Sitesurf. As usual, you never deceive us.

To be honest, it would have been more confortable to have written rules, but ... much less funny.

I note your advises. Thanks so much.


There is not much space for us to give written rules within each lesson. We have already rewritten our previous Tips&Notes entirely while adding a lot of details and further explanations and examples. However, they are still not exhaustive, especially when it comes to writing style.

You can find them all here: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29888394


Sentences that can be understood in two different ways are said to have syntactical ambiguity. Usually context is enough even for ambiguous sentences, but sometimes the word order or a well-placed comma can make the sentence clearer.


However, ambiguous sentences are an excellent source of English humor and puns. It's not always a bad thing. ;-)


Thank you very much for your delitghful, clarifying comment. I have had a pretty good time!

  • 2333

Thank youyou, M.Parlange. Yes, it is the word order that makes it sound a bit like this. And your proposition is much clearer - my wife does not eat beef but everyone else does.


Is hormis not possible? I was taught it has the same meaning as sauf.


Why is "On mange du boeuf" wrong? It was one of the multiple choice options which I chose


It is accepted, if your whole sentence is correct.


Is it not correct to say "à l'exception de ma femme"?


Yes, "nous mangeons du boeuf, à l'exception de ma femme" is an accepted translation.


thank you Sitesurf

  • 2333

Could it be understood that we do not eat my wife (although she is beef)?


It would be a nasty and silly joke, but why not?

  • 1787

Why did it give the the same answer I gave as another correct solution?

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