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  5. "Il y a de jolis canards."

"Il y a de jolis canards."

Translation:There are lovely ducks.

March 28, 2018



I tried "There are some lovely ducks." Does that not work because the de is properly a des that gets contracted to de before an adjective?


Same problem. To say "there are lovely ducks" sounds unusual, it feels more natural to say "some"


Well, neither version is all that common a thing to say ;)

Consider "There are big ducks; there are small ducks; there are ugly ducks; there are lovely ducks."

If you're talking about lovely ducks you can see in the present moment, I suppose you'd probably use "voilà."


It is grammatically correct and is perfectly reasonable to say that there are some lovely ducks. Just like it is perfectly reasonable to say that there are some ugly ducks.

In this case there are some lovely ducks is also an actual translation of the French sentence.

I am mystified why Duo is encouraging students to ignore the presence of some in French sentences. Some or an alternative to it is absolutely required in French when appropriate.

Understanding the difference in the way English speakers use some and the way French speakers use it is a big hurdle for English speakers.

This is the fourth example I have come across when reviewing lessons, where using some in the English translation has been penalized. Duo's recent practice of burying that difference in its use when translating French to English is a disservice to the Duo students.


I am mystified why Duo is encouraging students to ignore the presence of some in French sentences. Some or an alternative to it is absolutely required in French when appropriate.

"de" is here in this sentence, and I'm certain you can't leave it out when the translation exercise goes from English to French.

The French contributors have weighed in on this issue many times in sentence discussions.

Yes, something like an indefinite article is required even for plural nouns in French. Apparently earlier on Duolingo routinely used "some" as a trigger to help English-speakers recall this grammatical fact about French. I think the contributors believe this to have been in some measure misguided, for it misses the fact that even when an English speaker would not use "some," something is still required in French.


The problem is that French places a greater burden on the speaker to make clear details of what he is speaking about.

English speakers are much more prone to leaving it up to the listener to grasp important details. English speakers do that because they believe that either it is unimportant, obvious or if neither of those are true, the listener can always ask for clarification. Those words that are unnecessary in English are those that can be dropped. It isn't as if they should be dropped.

I think Duo should use every opportunity to encourage English speakers to follow the French practice when translating French. After all, Duo exercises are about translating not interpreting.

It is about what the French example says that makes sense when translated directly into English. It isn't about...this is how me and my friends would say the same thing most of the time.



Define natural.


I think Duolingo should encourage accurate translations into natural English and accurate translations into natural French.


Why is "pretty" not allowed. It's the standard translation in many other exercises.


Still not excepting pretty!


That's what I wrote, but was marked wrong.


Pretty ducks makes more sense to me. I am unsure of the register of joli in French, but in English "pretty" means attractive or beautiful in a fine, slight or diminutive way. It has other meanings that reinforce this nuance. "I am pretty good today" = "I am quite well today, but the doctor says I need another couple of days in bed" "Pretty" therefore = "nice", not "beautiful". Now we turn to lovely. This word is defined as beautiful, exquisitely beautiful, delightful, highly excellent and is clearly a cut above merely pretty. Even though we would say What a lovely baby! meaning "cute" it really does mean "beautiful". So, I contend that these ducks are not "lovely" but "pretty" or "nice" or "cute" or any equivalent of rather pleasing that takes your fancy. But they are not "beautiful", and are most definitely not "lovely", a word that really falls at the opposite end of the register.

Oxford English Dictionary

At first glance, French appears to make the same distinction (Collins-Robert). "Joli" is given as pretty and even takes the sense assez as in English "It is pretty cold" (il fait assez froid). But now we come to a difference. C-R gives lovely as joli, tres joli, ravissant, mignon, tres agréable, definitions that seem to jump about a bit between averagely good-looking and ecstatically beautiful.

The difficulty would appear to be that the French "joli" includes "lovely" in its definitions, but the English word "lovely" is at the opposite end of the beauty scale from the main definition of joli as "pretty*.

I'm still not sure whether these ducks are quite pretty or ravishingly beautiful, but I am willing to try them à l'orange.


I don't know that there's necessarily a whole lot more to this translation choice than that. Exactly how visually exquisite these ducks would be in the eyes of a native French speaker uttering this sentence is an interesting question.


You are amazing piguy3. Do you get the prize for learning the most languages on Duolingo (and three of them at level 25!!) Congratulations, well done!


Turns out contributor explains (some of) the thinking in the thread for the translation going the other direction: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/26917463/There-are-lovely-ducks.

I asked a follow-up question there, seeking to understand better.


jolis canards lovely ducks nice ducks where is the line when does joli not mean nice or only means lovely etc


I don't think ducks are lovely - "cute" sounds much more natural to me.


Impossible to tell difference between singular and plural pronunciation. Is there something I’m missing? Thanks.


Singular would be "Il y a un joli canard."


Of course! Thanks so much for your response.


There are some nice ducks was marked wrong. What doesn't DL like - translating joli as nice or adding 'some' as a translation of 'de'?


Tried it again with 'there are some lovely ducks'. No go. WHY???? I always thought you could translate de (du, de la, des) as some.


I thought "jolis" meant "pretty" as well as "lovely." And I think "some" should be accepted as well. I put "There are some pretty ducks" and got it wrong.


"There are some pretty ducks" is what feels natural for me to say but is wrong. Does "joli" only mean "pretty" when referring to people?


Why not "there are some pretty ducks?"


"There are some pretty ducks" not accepted 30 June 2018. Reported.
"There are some nice ducks" not accepted 30 June 2018. Reported.


Same for me, not accepted 7 July 2018


Again, pretty ducks, not accepted July 27, 2018


Knowing joli means pretty, I put " There are pretty ducks" which should have been accepted.


Is nice ducks not somewhat realistic?


An if the ducks were judged just "nice" and not "lovely"?


English speech would expect 'some lovely ducks' … If someone said 'There are lovely ducks' you'd give them a funny look! The 'old' duolingo used to allow such - and I miss the grammar aids lots


I always seem to get mixed up on when to use de versus des when describing a plural noun. For example, my reaction would be to write 'Il y a des jolis canards,' rather than the correct 'Il y a de jolis canards.'

I'm assuming this is because an adjective precedes the noun? For example, "There are black dresses" would be translated to "Il y a des robes noires" versus "There are ugly dresses" which would be "Il y a de laides robes?"

Is there a rule that stipulates when an adjective should precede the noun and when it should follow?


I'm assuming this is because an adjective precedes the noun?

Yes. Sitesurf has useful comments on the initial parts of your question here

As to the last, this reference seems good: http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/grammar/adjectives_position.shtml


And then there are not-so-nice ducks. You do not want to meet a not-so-nice duck in a dark alley. Near a dark lake.


...in the dark.


Is this to mean that lovely ducks exist as opposed to unpleasant ducks or is it to mean that the lovely ducks are over there and I want you to look in that direction to see them?


il y a = there is/are in the sense of existence; for pointing one would expect "voilà" (in practice, of course, language is flexible)


They don't listen


What sets the rules for "de" and "des"?


Why not "These are lovely ducks"


How are beautiful and lovely different?


How would you say: "There are some lovely ducks."?


There are some pretty ducks,- just failed. Why, please?It is good English and a good translation surely?!

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