"Leur beau-père est un homme important."
Translation:Their stepfather is an important man.
Weirdly enough, it actually means both stepfather AND father-in-law. Same thing applies to other relations, e.g. belle-mère, beau-frère.
It means both. If you think about it, it does mean the same thing, albeit via a different logic. "Father by marriage, rather than by genetics".
You're quite right... this is one of those opportunities to gain cultural insight through linguistics. ;-D
With regard to hhzhang's comment 3 weeks ago, wouldn't it be beau-frere, not belle-frere. (Sorry, I haven't figured out how to put the accents in here.
You're right, thanks! Not sure what I was thinking there. I've fixed it in the original comment.
How come stepdad doesn't work when dad has worked previously as a translation for pere?
'Dad' is not a translation of 'père' either. 'Dad/daddy/papa' are informal and intimate variants of 'father', and the distinction is the same in French:
father = père ; stepfather/father-in-law = beau-père
dad/daddy/papa = papa ; stepdad/dad-in-law(?) = beau-papa
However, in previous exercises dad worked as a translation for pere, so it seems a little inconsistent?
The course is entirely human-generated, with half a dozen contributors and thousands of sentences. It's only natural that it will be inconsistent in places. You should report any inconsistencies as soon as they come up, via the "report" button.
In this course, "père" should only be "father" and "papa" should only be "dad", "daddy", "pa", etc.