"Il y a de grandes écharpes."
Translation:There are large scarves.
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There are little socks, there are large scarves and other similar sentences elsewhere on Duo don't quite hang right. They are sort of fine as a response to a question such as "What is there to wear against the cold?", but English seems to look for a bit of padding (no pun intended) in these statements. "There are some shoes in the box", There are (some) hats (over) there" to follow the dummy subject there is/are. The real subject is socks or scarves, and if you recast the sentence to "Large scarves are" or "Socks are", "Shoes are" you end up asking yourself the questions What are they? or Where are they? and I think that is why we go hunting for more padding in There is/are statements.
Taking a closer look, we realize that the little English word "some" has different meanings. It can mean an undetermined (but not large) amount of something. A completely different meaning is to refer to a subset of a larger group, e.g., "some of the dogs are black". It may also be used as an intensifier (that is some dress). In early Duolingo days, there was a push to allegedly help learners by offering an English word to use to translate "des". The problem is that there is no real counterpart in English for the way this "des" is used in French. For this reason, "some" may sometimes be accepted for "des" but it is not generally offered as a natural translation. Example:
- un chien = a dog
- des chiens = dogs (note that it is not "some dogs" because "des" only represents the plural of "un"). Although "some" is occasionally used here, it is almost always ignored in this meaning. I.e., the plural of "dog" is "dogs", not "some dogs".
Now let's introduce an adjective before the plural French noun.
- de petits chiens = small dogs ("des" is shortened to "de" before the plural adjective)
- de grosses pommes = big apples
Other meanings of "some" (certain & quelque):
- à certains moments = at times
- certains d'entre eux = some of them
ça demande un certain entraînement = it requires some practice ("some" in the sense of an intensifier, in the meaning of "considerable/substantial")
il y a quelque temps = some time ago
- je voudrais ajouter quelques mots = I'd like to add a few words
- quelques instants = a few moments
While on pronounciation, can you tell me the difference please between Il y a deux grandes écharpes and Il y a de grandes écharpes. I had a type what you hear excercise and more guessed than knew once I had listened several times that it was de and not deux, so did get it correct, but I would like to know what the difference in pronounciation would be. Thanks.
The vowel sounds are slightly different.*
The vowels sounds are /ə/ and /ø/ (de and deux respectively). It is a little difficult to describe the difference, but in making the sound, your tongue is more forward for "deux" and your lips more pursed. The best way to learn is to hear it.
Here is a pronunciation video that may help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teniTqcbFck
*(Although it can also depend on the region, because difference is all but erased for certain French speakers in the south of France.)
Thanks. I do understand your explanation and I made up a few sentences which I spoke aloud and found this exactly what I was doing with my tongue. Unfortunately the video was a bit beyond me. French subtitles would have helped. I hope it helps others who read your reply.