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Confused...idioms, or...?

Help make sense of this: “It is cold,” “Il fait froid.” BUT: “It is freezing.” “Il gele.” “It is cool,” “Il fait frais,” BUT “It is foggy,” Il y a du Brouillard.” Are these idiomatic expressions that one just needs to learn (and put up with), or is there some kind of basis in logic? Thanks much... Chris

April 2, 2018



There are plenty of weather expressions in French of the form "Il fait" + adj., including "Il fait froid" (cold), "Il fait glacial" (extremely cold), "Il fait frais" (cool), "Il fait brumeux" (hazy, misty, foggy). You could probably stick to that one construction whenever you talk about the weather if you wanted to; there are lots of adjectives to choose from. But why not enjoy the variety of constructions available? In other words, "Il y a du brouillard" is not a direct word-for-word translation of "It is foggy", but it means essentially the same thing. Plus it has the benefit of being a rather common thing to say in French, which I assume is why it was presented to you before "Il fait brumeux".


And by the way, none of this has anything to do with idioms or idiomatic speaking. An example of a French weather idiom might be "Il pleut des cordes", literally "It's raining ropes", which means it's raining very hard.


I appreciate the reply, J; thanks; I do, and will enjoy the "variety" as you have put it, but some of the things make no sense (unless you're a native speaker. And who am I to talk, as English is my native language, which, pound for pound, I would bet is more confusing!). Still, I like to have the correct form going on because, as you know, if you don't, you won't get it right according to Duo. So, I'm betting that even though "il y a..." and "Il fait..." are the same, Duo is only going to accept one (finding out the hard way that, no, "filles" does NOT mean "girls," in the context of one of the questions it means "Daughters." thanks again for the reply....


It's definitely true that Duo can be picky about what it accepts. It mostly expects you to use the constructions it's given you previous, and if a word has more than one sense it expects you to pick the best fit based on context. It can seem harsh at times, for sure. If you are ever confused about why your answer is marked incorrect, you should make sure to read the 'discuss' page for that question. I hope you don't get too frustrated and you find things making more sense to you soon!


The team are busy adding alternate translations as they are reported (assuming they are valid). So, if you would like another structure added to the list of acceptable translations (and you are 90%+ certain is correct), then report it to have it considered. :-)

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