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  5. "Ta belle-mère est la femme d…

"Ta belle-mère est la femme de ton père."

Translation:Your stepmother is your father's wife.

March 27, 2018


  • 2217

Note that "belle-mère" may be either 1) stepmother, i.e., your father's wife, but not your biological mother, or 2) mother-in-law, i.e, the mother of your spouse.


So it is a matter of context? I read it as "Your mother-in-law is your father's wife". Since the sentence was without context, am I technically right? I thought it was a strange sentence, but I thought, "Eh, I'm not here to judge. Only to translate."

  • 2217

The rest of the sentence tells you what it is: she is your father's wife. By using this expression, it means she is not your mother or your mother-in-law, but your stepmother. It is the only possible translation here.


That is going to take a lot of logic to figure out.


So, how would one go about saying "my mother-in-law is married to my Dad"?


C'est difficile, ma mère est morte et le père de ma femme aussi. Maintenant, la mère de ma femme est devenue la femme de mon père. Tu comprends? Ma belle-mère est ma belle-mère. Deux tragédies et une drolerie.


I wrote your mother inlaw is the wife of your father and was marked wrong


You were indeed wrong. The beau/belle-[relative] thing depends on context to determine whether it's a step-relative or a relative-in-law.


In another thread you said that 'beau-frère' can only mean brother-in-law and that stepbrother has to be 'demi-frère'. I'm struggling to work out what the rules are here, are they different for siblings than for parents then?


I think Duo was wrong in translating demi-frère as "step-brother" - a half-sibling is related to you by blood through only one parent, meaning that it's a child born to one of your parents with a different spouse than your other parent. Step-relatives and in-law relatives aren't related to you by blood at all.


I understand what you are saying n6zs but bloody hell wouldn't it be easier to have different terms for different relationships?


And that's what the Chinese did, and it's hella confusing. (In Chinese, every single relative has their own word: i.e.: sisters of your mother, sisters of your father, brothers of your mother, brothers of your father, sons of each one of the mentioned above, daughter's of... you get the idea).


Swedish has this as well, farmor for the mother of your father, mormor for the mother of your mother and so on. Also all the aunts and uncles


We shouldn't judge too harshly. Many languages distinguish between maternal and paternal relatives, or between for example a brother-in-law who is one's wife's brother versus one who is one's sister's husband


I'm sorry, this started out as your father-in-law and my mother-in-law, and suddenly belle-mere means stepmother. And more to the point when I went back to the base section to look for the guidance......there wasn't any. Could somebody please explain how belle-mere means mother-in-law AND stepmother, and more importantly how to distinguish the two from a single sentence. Having read down the thread I'm with Hens903971 on this. Its fine to put this as part of a general discussion as there will be pointers, but a single sentence with no supporting text is a bit of a stretch.


Only context can clarify the difference.

Every language has words which only become clear through context. The point is that, to avoid ambiguity in such instances, you have to be careful that the context makes it clear what you're talking about. That's what parentheses and brackets are for.


Spanish is so much easier....


This is confusing. Is there actually a difference in French between mother-in-law and stepmother?


Some guidelines for determining relationships in English:

First you ask whether a "step" relationship exists. Step-relationships only arise when a parent marries a 2nd (or more) time and the new spouse already has children with someone else. People thus only have step-fathers, step-mothers, step-brothers, and step-sisters. Everyone has to be alive at the time of the 2nd (or more) marriage. The most important thing to observe is that the "step" relationship only arises if there are existing children of either spouse involved.

Step-relatives are not related by blood (they don't share genetic markers). Sometimes the "step" label is applied to other members of one spouses family, but that's just to expand the idea of "family". "Step-cousin" isn't really a relationship, but helps describe how someone fits in an expanded family.

"Step" relations are thus limited to either (a) your new mother and, if any, her existing children, or (b) your new father and if any, his existing children.

In-laws are people who are closely related by blood to either spouse in any marriage (1st, 2nd, 3rd or more) and who don't fit the step-relative group. Your spouse's parents and siblings are the usual in-laws: Mother-in-law, Father-in-law, Brother-in-law, and/or Sister-in-law. (Again, some people extend the reach of this group to include more people in the "family".) In-laws can be born after the marriage - they don't have to be in existence at the time of the marriage. (Example: If your wife's parents have a son after the marriage, the baby is your wife's new brother and thus your new brother-in-law.)

Children born after a 2nd (or more) marriage are half-siblings to living children of either parent. Such children are related "by the half-blood" They share half the genetic material they would with a full-blooded sibling (brothers and sisters born of the 1st marriage, produced by the same two parents). Example: If your father and step-mother have a baby daughter, then that is your half-sister.

There isn't any usual over-lap in these relationships. Step-relatives are not in-laws and not half-relatives, but there are unusual circumstances which can create over-laps. Step-siblings can legally marry, because they are not legally related to each other. That can change the whole relationship matrix.


People here seem to forget that even in English it is not so simple. Your in-laws are both your spouce's parents and siblings and your siblings spouces. These are also two different relationships.


Okay, I got that wrong, but, it is kind of confusing to have the same term mean in-law or step.....

  • 2217

But when you read the rest of the sentence, it explains what it is. It is reduced to a matter of pure logic--there is no guessing necessary.


You are right of course, and context is needed in many places in English too. It is a mere curiosity that a strange sequence of divorces/widowhoods and remarriages could make the 'wrong' answer right, which then one could express in English but, seemingly not in French.

  • 1061

It IS confusing! First the whole sentence has to be put on the operating table to determine in an anatomical lesson how the relationship is constructed. Then you can determine which version of 'belle mère' is meant. Dissecting family relationships is definitely not my strong point!


For saying "Your stepmother is your father's wife" it said that I had a typo. Instead the correct translation is "Your stepmother is your father's wife." Why is this?


Hiccup in the programming. I've had that happen where the correct answer is the same as my answer. I ignore it.


So in France you can have two "belle-mères" with the context determining which one youre talking about?


In France, you can probably have two or more belles-mères. Wouldn't be exactly legal, and the Catholic church would frown on it. I know a French man who at one point lived in a multi-floor house, with his wife and children on one floor, his mother on another, and his mistress and her children on another.

  • 1192

So why was monter-in-law deemed incorrect?


I now understand because it is your father's wife and because you cannot marry your father the translation must be stepmother


"Your Step mum is your Dad's wife" marked as incorrect???


mère = "mother", not "mom/mum", which is maman

It's also too colloquial. Aside from the fact that Duo usually doesn't accept "mum", "Step-mum/mom" approaches slang. It's a regional vernacular with limited application.


According to a Google search stepmother

noun a woman who is married to one's father after the divorce of one's parents or the death of one's mother.


Your father's wife is your stepmother.


Why when you write the correct response does it say another correct response is the same thing you wrote???


to expand your understanding of the language


What's the difference between stepmother and mother in law?

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