1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "La girafe mange les feuilles…

"La girafe mange les feuilles."

Translation:The giraffe eats the leaves.

April 2, 2018



“The giraffe eats leaves“ is not accepted. I think it should be.

  • "The giraffe is eating [some] leaves" - "Le girafe mange des feuilles"
  • "The giraffe is eating the leaves" - "Le girafe mange les feuilles"

"les feuilles" can only be used as just "leaves" (and not "some leaves") when used with a verb of appreciation, aimer, détester, etc.

  • "Le girafe aime les feuilles" - "The giraffe likes leaves"
  • "Le girafe déteste les feuilles" - "The giraffe hates leaves"

Note how adding "some" would change the meaning of the last two sentences but doesn't change the meaning of the first sentence.


So just to check, does French grammar always use "des feuilles" for (just) "leaves" with verbs like manger as a rule, even when adding "some" would change the meaning in English? For example in English: "Although the giraffe (as a species) eats leaves, this newborn will feed on his mother's milk for four to six months before he begins eating leaves."


Yes, your sentence would use « des feuilles. »

However a generalization that started with “Leaves” would use “Les feuilles” as in “Leaves are the preferred food of Giraffes.”


So is manger a verb of appreciation that would mandate the use of "les feuilles)?


No, here “les feuilles” means “the leaves.” “Aimer” means “to like” and that would be a verb of appreciation.


Sorry, but I'm really confused. Isn't there a simple rule that tells you when to use feuilles; les feuilles or des feuilles?


Sorry, there are several rules. https://www.thoughtco.com/introduction-to-french-articles-1368810


I know what you are thinking of now. Generalizations in French also take the definite article.

Since we are talking about one particular giraffe, this is not a generalization.

If, however, we wanted to say “Giraffes eat leaves.”, then in French it would be “Les girafes mangent des feuilles.”


Except that I put the giraffe is eating leaves and was marked incorrect. Please explain that one.


Sorry C. J . I misunderstood your post.


But, CJ.Dennis, you have omitted to point out that there are actually five possibilities, not just two:

  • "Le girafe mange des feuilles." → "The giraffe is eating [some] leaves."
  • "Le girafe mange des feuilles." → "The giraffe [habitually] eats [some] leaves."
  • "Le girafe mange les feuilles." → "The giraffe is eating the leaves."
  • "Le girafe mange les feuilles." → "The giraffe [habitually] eats the leaves."
  • "Le girafe mange les feuilles." → "The giraffe [as a species] eats leaves [as a rule]."
  • "L'éléphant mange des feuilles." (See below)

The fourth possibility ideally needs additional context to validate it, but in principle it is a valid option.

The fifth possibility requires no such additional context and invalidates your false premise that "les" as a generality can only be used with "verbs of appreciation".

What does hold true however, is that, with a "verb of appreciation", "les" almost always indicates a generality.

With many animals, there would be a sixth possibility:

  • "L'éléphant mange des feuilles." → "The elephant [as a species] eats [some] leaves."

but so far as I am aware this is not true of giraffes, since they only eat leaves.


"The giraffe is eating leaves" disallowed and reported 2018-05-07.


It would be wrong. “des feuilles” would be “leaves”, but it would be possible to put “The giraffe is eating the leaves.” and that could be reported if not accepted as correct.


"The giraffe is eating leaves." is correctly disallowed (that would be "des feuilles"), but "The giraffe eats leaves." should be accepted.


Why not: La girafe mange des feuilles. - Why 'les' and not 'des' ?


See my other answer here which explains this.


The draft is eating leaves should be accepted.


Could you explain that one?


Oops. Sorry, just saw your explanation. (Can't delete.)

  • 1426

You can always edit your posts when you find any typos.


That depends on the app.

  • 1426

you are right. Posts are only editable when using computers.


Oops I dictated that and it came out drafts. Of course I meant, the giraffe is eating leaves, should be accepted.


I understand now why my answer was not accepted.


I understood that the definite article is sometimes used for a general noun, hence, les feuilles could be" the leaves" or the general "leaves" as opposed to some leaves "des feuilles"?????


No, if the sentence started with “Leaves are...” then the French would put “Les feuilles...”, but the verb “mange” uses “des feuilles” for “eats some leaves” in which we often just say “eats leaves.” The generalization would be about “giraffes” for “Giraffes eat leaves.”, but again when the definite article is used after a form of “manger” that wiuld be translated to the definite article in English.


That is not true.

"The giraffe eats leaves" → "Le giraffe mange les feuilles.".

"Giraffes eat leaves" → "Les giraffes mange les feuilles.".


Okay... marked wrong for "The giraffe is eating leaves"


That would have been “La giraffe mange des feuilles.”


It needs to be "The giraffe eats leaves.". The generalised statement cannot use "is eating".

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.