"The poor little one is staying in bed."
Translation:Le pauvre petit garde le lit.
This sounds like they're keeping the bed. Is this an idiom? Could someone explain the grammar please?
Yes, "garder le lit" means to be confined to bed or to be laid up. It's "bed rest" essentially.
Le/La pauvre petit/e GARDE le lit" sounds like he/she guards the bed. "Le/La pauvre petit/e RESTE au lit" insinuates that he/she is sick and need to stay in bed ("Le/La pauvre petit/e est malade et doit rester au lit"). It's more credible
"Garde le lit" means that one is confined to bed, whereas "reste au lit" can simply mean that one is tired and sleeping/resting in bed.
The verb garder is versatile has multiple meanings in French. It can mean to care for or look after after:
La tante garde les enfants. → The aunt watches the children.
To keep or hold onto:
Je garde toutes ses lettres. → I hold onto all of his letters.
Vous devriez garder vos forces. → You should save your strength.
There are also many expressions:
garder la tête froide → to keep one's head/to keep cool
garder l'anonymat → to keep one's anonymity
garder le silence → to keep silent
garder son sérieux → to keep a straight face
Habite or Garde are not words any French person would use normally. Is it an old grammatical rule? I've always heard "Il est resté au lit".
The expression "keep to his bed" used to be used in English, more or less to mean confined to bed due to illness or infirmity. Equally there is a subtle difference in French between garder le lit and rester au lit. Rester au lit is unspecific, and probably by choice. Garder le lit is probably still translated as stay in bed, but with the meaning of be on bed rest.
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And pauvre means poor in the impoverished sense, as well as unlucky in the sick-in-bed sense?
"Les pauvres" can also be a noun referring to "the poor" or poor people.
Coming on this question the second time, I find myself confused as to which of the adjectives, pauvre or petit, has become a noun. I kept thinking that it was pauvre, essentially changing the sentence to "the little poor one" rather than the other way around. C'est possible?
Le pauvre petit means "the poor little one" in English. If there are two words together like that ("pauvre petit" "famille pauvre" "pauvre garçon"), you can be sure that "pauvre" is acting as an adjective. When you see pauvre before the noun it is figurative and means "unfortunate." If it follows the noun it is literal. "Une famille pauvre" is a destitute or poor family.
I read a story where a character says, "ma pauvre," with the English meaning of a mildly sarcastic "my poor thing." So, if both pauvre and petit(e) can be adjectives or nouns, then one should be able to say "petit pauvre" and it would mean "my poor little thing." No? And one should be able to say "petite pauvre" about a female "poor little thing." Right?