So what if she was a lesbian and had a girlfriend? That would be 'Elle a une petite amie?' How would you get across that she had a girlfriend and not a boyfriend since they sound the same?
If the person we're talking about had a girlfriend, we would use "Elle a une petite amie." And it wouldn't be a problem to make the difference by ear, since they sound different.
Here are the links to practice "un" and "une" :
In this particular case, "petit" and "petite" would sound the same because of the liaison between "petit" and "ami", but if there is no liaison, for example with "petit livre", the second "t" in "petit" is not pronounced, and therefore "petit" would sound differenty from "petite".
The pronunciation of "petite" never changes.
Jumping onto the original question, I understand what you are saying but you said "if there is no laision." In this case as is often the case in French there IS a liaison, therefore how do you tell the difference in this circumstance?
The difference in pronunciation here is in the article, un or une, which sound very distinct (/œ̃/ compared to /yn/).
I was marked wrong with the answer, "She has a little friend." I understand that 'ami' can also mean boyfriend, but is my answer wrong? Is boyfriend the only way or best way to read that sentence?
In French, a "petit(e) ami(e)" means "boyfriend/girlfriend".
If we want to talk about the height of a friend, we could say something like : "Elle a un ami qui est petit" or even "Elle a un ami de petite taille".
Sometimes in English we talk about "little friends", though. For example, you're greeting a child you know, and there's a younger one hiding behind him/her. We might say, "Who's your little friend?" There's also the famous movie line, "Say hello to my little friend!" Does this just not happen in French?
Technically, "little friend" could be translated as "petit ami", but because of what it means in actual common French, it's likely that it will not.
For your example of the famous line from Scarface, it was translated in the dubbed version as: "Elle va cracher, ma vieille Sandrine" (which is the furthest possible from a literal translation, but the dubbing French industry gets really creative sometimes).
Actually, a more literal translation could use something like "Dites bonjour à ma petite amie" because of the sexual connotation sometimes used in movies regarding men and their weapon. It would never be understood as "little friend" though, but rather as "girlfriend". Translating is never easy ^^.
In another lesson we saw "copain/copine" for boyfriend/girlfriend. Which one is used more often and/or is the more 'safe'? Merci!
"(petit) copain / (petite) copine" and "(petit) ami / (petite) amie" are synonyms.
Usually, using the terms without the adjective "petit(e)" means that we're talking about a buddy/mate for "copain/copine" and a real true friend for "ami/amie" (even though the nuance between these terms can vary depending on who's using them).
Adding "petit(e)" to these two words mean that we're talking about a boyfriend/girlfriend, even though we usually don't need it. We can use only the possessive form (mon copain/ ma copine) to indicate that. Everything else is a matter of context.
Not really, even if the French translation "compagnon" may be a synonym of "copain" (but also may not). They don't belong to the same kind of formality.
"companion" = "compagnon" / "compagne"
There are different meanings for those, see here:
If you are saying "My friend," even if using "amie," you should use "mon" because of the vowel. Right? If so does that still apply if there is an adjective in-between the two? For example "mon petite amie"?
It will only be changed to "ma" for a feminine noun if it is followed by a consonant, i.e., mon amie, ma petite amie.
I'm not certain, but I doubt it as you only change it to mon to aid with pronunciation. Maybe a native speaker could confirm?
I'm not a native speaker, but I know that "ma" would only be changed to "ma" if it came before a vowel sound. Therefore, when "petite" separates "ma" and "amie" there is no vowel sound immediately after "ma" and so it doesn't change to "mon". I hope that helps!
Is petit ami (and the feminine version also) idiomatic? Otherwise wouldn't it be little friend?
I was shown a correct translation of "She's a boyfriend." This sounds like 'She is a boyfriend.' If someone said this, it would be understood that the speaker is fresh off the boat from somewhere.
If you got this as a listening exercise, then you have to listen to the pronunciation of « un/une ». Un petit ami is a boyfriend; une petite amie is a girlfriend.
No, as has already been mentioned in this discussion, « petit ami » always means 'boyfriend' and « petite amie » always means 'girlfriend'.
What if I'm referring to my son's little friend? She's 5 years old, how would I say that in french without sounding like my 5 years old son has a girlfriend?
Why would you describe her as a "little friend" in English? That sounds unnatural; just call her your son's friend (and it would be obvious that she is little given their age), or maybe even young friend (« une jeune amie »). If you want to emphasize her small size, then say in French « Mon fils a une amie qui est petite » ("My son has a friend who is little").
Thanks for the reply Sean. I think it's an idiom thing. I'm from Brazil, and in portuguese we may, sometimes, refer to a child's friend as "amiguinho" (one single word that means "little friend"). I thought that in French there was a similar word, since "petit ami" has a totally different meaning. I liked your suggestion , "jeune amie" is the closest to what I was looking for, in terms of meaning.
Google translate renders the male version of 'petite amie' as 'petit-ami'...is this incorrect? Or are hyphenated and not both okay?