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  5. "They are writing letters."

"They are writing letters."

Translation:Elles écrivent des lettres.

March 23, 2013

101 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ispanyol29

why is 'elles ecrivent les lettres' wrong


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hossein653658

In english, it is better to say "they are writing some leters", thus some will be translated to des


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Johannes928372

because «les» implies “the” very specific letters, you've for example been talking about before. Therefore this sentence has to be with «des».


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ACI95

Idk. Because i said elles and they corrected it to ils. Like they can be girls/boys when not specifies


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hugoalbuquerquen

It did the opposite with me... I wrote "Ils écrivent..." and it said it was wrong :/


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

That's how Duo keeps you on your toes.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PrimaMonda

Yess the same happened to me


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simran732726

It's a rule -"We must always use 'des' before plural nouns when the exact number of that noun isn't important ". As in these cases 'des'means 'some'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OliverHurst

When not specified it's supposed to be Ils and If there's at least 1 male in the group then it's Ils. If it's only a group of women/ girls then it's elles. But only under that condition.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nancy761284

I also want to know


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shirley531683

Its meant to be elles écrivent des lettres


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/adaobi

really dumb question, but why isn't it: 'ils sont ecrivent des lettres'.? Many thanks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ninasocial

'sont' means '(they) are' and comes from 'être' ('to be'), so if you said 'ils sont gentils' it would mean that 'they are nice', 'elles sont laides' means 'they are ugly' etc.

'écrivent' means '(they) write/are writing' and comes from 'écrire' ('to write') so it already contains who is doing what. That is why it's 'elles écrivent des lettres', because:

ils/elles= they

écrivent = (they) write/are writing

des lettres = letters

I hope this helps ^^.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ElizabethR553977

The above explanation was the best! Elizabeth


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Creativewan

Hi adobi. Since the word 'écrivent' is the plural way to say 'are writing', to say "ils sont écrivent des lettres" would be like saying the word 'are' twice. I hope this helps you to understand it better.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

Plus : there is no present continuous in French. So there is no je suis + verb or ils sont + verb.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/censoredreality

I dont understand when des is supposed to be used and where it is supposed to be placed


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kashmiraa

hi censoredreality!!

lets say, "Elle a des crayons."

means "She has pencils." or "She has some pencils." It's not specified exactly which pencils she has. In this case, des is used as the "article indéfini". It's basically the plural form of "un":

"Elle a un crayon." — "She has a pencil." "Elle a le crayon." — "She has the pencil."

"Elle a les crayons."

means "She has the pencils." it refers to a specific set of pencils, or it may be referring to a set of pencils previously mentioned in the conversation.

So there may be exceptions to the rule, but use "les" when you are mentioning a specific group of objects, or objects that were already brought up in the conversation. Use "des" when the specific group hasn't been brought up before, or when the group itself isn't important, but the objects are.

I hope this helps!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kumud12490

Thanks, that's a very good explanation


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pravin356691

THANK YOU, very well explained!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Superstacie2011

Shouldn't this be interchangable with ils? Unless it is known to be just women?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

Yes, it can be "elles" or "ils", no difference. From the English "they" you cannot say which is right. They both are.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Teoman93606

Then why did it say I was wrong with ils? Ive triple checked to see any mistakes others than ils but i had none.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

Since I cannot see your answer I cannot tell you what went wrong. It is also possible that your answer was correct but did not get accepted because of a bug, it happens sometimes. This is why it is important to cite your answer, if it is not accepted. Or report it, if you are sure it should have been accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kaitlyn828156

Why des and not les?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

Read the explanation by kashmiraa.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/psychmajor

Why is it des and not de? What is the difference?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/G.G.81

"les" is for things that can be counted. "de" is for things that cannot be counted. you would say "de l'eau/some water" because you can't count water. however you can say "des rivieres/some rivers" because rivers can be counted. pay attention to the english as well: "some water" singular (regardless of the amount); "some rivers" plural.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ninasocial

"Lettres" is plural so "des" is used. De + les = des

This article should help: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/preposition_de.htm

Sorry I cannot explain more, I am just starting out myself :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MariaNyczWasilec

I might be wrong (I probably am) but the way I see it is that des would be like des jupes or des fruits- it would mean some skirts or some fruits. De on the other hand means of something. For example beaucoup de sel or in peu de lait. Please please correct me if I am wrong in this way of explaining the difference, but I have seen this pattern and I hope it helps to explain it to you.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/E.T.s_Son

I believe its "des" because "lettres" is feminine. I've noticed a pattern where "de" is only used for plural masculine terms such as "de petits chiens" and "des" is only used for plural feminine terms such as "des petites chiennes". I might be wrong though. Just going by observation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/khinzzz

If lettres is feminine, shouldnt it be: de la? Im confused.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FranciscoJxL

Lettres is feminine AND plural. So when we use de + les = des


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/E.T.s_Son

Hmmm...I don't think so because "lettres" is plural. You might have to double check


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

Yes, it would be de la for singular feminine. But for plural it has to be de + les = des same for both sexes.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

It has nothing to do with letters being feminine. Masculine plural will also be de + les = des. This goes for both sexes, remember the plural of le and la is always les and then comes de + les = des. Plural makes it des, in singular you'll have de + le = du or de la (no contraction).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ReynaAranello

Why is it "Elles écrivent des lettres" and not "Elles écrivent du lettres"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Qlarity

Lettres is plural, hence 'des' as a contraction of 'de les' rather than 'de le' for a singular noun.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PradhumanS629030

I have often found this confusion between des and les here... Would like to share what i studied in high school

Un - a masculine singular

Une- a feminine singular

Des - masculine/feminine plural.

Note:- des also stands for some.... Like des sucre (some sugar)... Here les is not used infront of sucre because it is not some specific type of sugar...

Similarly, Le(the) - masculine singular

La - feminine singular

L' - for masculine/feminine singular starting with a vowel

Les - masculine/feminine plural

If you found something wrong, do correct... Bcoz I am picking up french after 4 years, so might not remember perfectly.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

One mistake, it's "du sucre" (sugar is singular, masculine). De, as you said, stands for "some" but changes with gender and plurality. De + le = du; de + la = de la; de + l' = de l' (for all nouns starting with a vowel, where there is an elision); de + les = des.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IgorLevach

You are wrong!!!ils also may be!!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benjib90

Why is lours not the same as ils/elles in this context?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/foxtrotwhiskey9

You are probably talking about "leurs" which means "Their". "Their writing letters" doesn't make sense. "Their" is not the same as "They're" even though they sound the same. "Their" is a possessive article. When you say "Their letters" you are talking about someone's letters. If you say "They're letters" you are saying "Those things over there are letters."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/asyke1

Since " Il parle des robes rouges" means "he talks about THE red dresses", why does this sentence means a general number of letters?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/picabu3

I think there are two types of "des".
One is "des = de+les" ("Il parle des robes rouges" - "He is talking about the red dresses").
The other is simply "des", the indefinite article used for plural nouns ("Elles écrivent des lettres" - "They are writing (some) letters").
https://grammar.collinsdictionary.com/french-easy-learning/the-indefinite-article-un-une-and-des


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DvAmsterdam

Does anybody know how to place the accents and apostrophes on an android telephone? Thanx!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kashmiraa

If u want to write say ecrive with the accent on e , long press ‘e‘ in your keypad and u will be provided with the accents . Better u can go to ur settings and also include the french language “ française“


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Is_A_Skeleton

"Des" means "some" for objects that can be counted. It is the plural of un/une. So « Elles écrivent des lettres » = "They are writing (some) letters". In English we usually omit "some" (they are writing letters) but in French it is required.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dt999

Why are there 2 identical answers. Apparently I chose the wrong one. What's the difference?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JennniferC3122

Why can't I write "Ils écrivent les lettres"? Please help, they are driving me crazy!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

You can write "Ils écrivent les lettres" it is correct, but the meaning will be a little different. Your sentence means "They write the letters".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AyokunleOl1

Why is les lettres wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

The sentence says "They are writing (some) letters", not specified which. There is no "the letters", so in French it will be "des lettres" (some, unspecified).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RichardHar86297

Why is "ils écrivent" wrong ? There is no context in the question to suggest the gender of the writers of the letters, so the default is masculine. Isn't it ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

It should be accepted. Default doesn't have to be masculine, although often is.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Martin689910

Why is ils wrong? Where is the feminine instruction?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

It can be either way; most of the time default is masculine, sometimes it can be feminine.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WamoMaroc

Why my answer is wrong? They means ils or elles


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

Yes, you are right, both answers should be accepted here. They means "elles" or "ils".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WamoMaroc

What the different between They ils Or they elles


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marjan717584

Whay can't we say "Elles écrivent lettres"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

There has to be an article in French, it cannot be omitted. And since these are some letters not the letters, the article used is indefinite des and not les. In English in this situation you drop the article, in French you use "des".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DebWeaver3

I wrote "Ils ecrivent les lettres


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LouiseKeet

Why not ils écrivent lettres ? = They are writing letters. Duo didn't request some or the,. I'm confused by this.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jacksack

why des and not les?? question needs an answer for firewall to be assembled on frontlines of the new episode of community. did you watch. thanks. please do not ban. i am questions. je suis fou!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/khinzzz

Why cant we write: elles/ils SONT ecrivent de lettres? isnt sont supposed to mean 'are'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/taeran2

I'm relatively new, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but in answer to your question, Michel Thomas describes it well when he says that "there is no "am" ing, no "is" ing or no "are" ing when you translate to french". In other words, you never use "am, is or are" before an 'ing' word. For example, english says "I AM running", "you ARE fighting", "he IS kicking". The french translation MEANS the same as these, but you simply use "I run" to mean "i am running", or "you fight", to mean "you are fighting" etc.
Therefore, "elles SONT ecrivent" in your example would be incorrect as it breaks the no "are-ing" rule. Instead, "Elles écrivent" already means 'they are writing'. You never put "am, is, or are" before 'ing' words.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

Because you cannot translate literally from English. There is no present continuous in French, so there is no ils sont + verb. It can only transate into simple tense elles/ils écrivent .


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TwistedCosmos

Ils écrivent des courriers that's how I understood it and it says no it has to be lettres instead of courriers... writing courriers makes more sense than lettres


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Louradour5

Ils écrivent des lettres is common phrasing in French.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eunsunlove

Can i use de la lettres


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dudewithaclever

No. You cannot. The preposition "de" like the article "le" has multiple forms depending on the gender and number of the words it sits next to. It's changed accordingly de + la = de la de + le = du de + les = des In this context, the word "lettres" is plural, and hence if we were to break the sentence apart into components, would like like this "de les lettres" As demonstrated above, we need to combine the preposition de with the article les to get the word des. Hence it would have to be "des lettres." However if the sentence were different referencing only one letter, then you would be correct. I hope that helps!


[deactivated user]

    why doesnt is accept vous?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

    Because it is not you but they. Elles or ils = they. Tu or vous = you.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ling75578

    I am i do not 2nd


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chrisisabdoni

    I keep getting mixed up


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DiegoMartin52819

    bvgcfdxzsawesxrdctfvygbhnjbuvtrcexwszqa@AQZwxecr6vtbynuim


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ACI95

    Why did i get it wrong for saying elles. All it said was "they". I take that as they should accept it being they (girls) or they (boys). They corrected me as ils when literally the last example was elle ecricent lettres


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

    You are right, both "ils" and "elles" should be accepted, because they both mean "they".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MilenaZ5

    Yes yang jcya xessF


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dt999

    Using "des lettres" instead of "les lettres" Isn't it a petty difference?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Louradour5

    There is a nuance. "des" lettres is general, "les" lettres is aimed to a specific planned goal, for example a letter to resign.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobCowper

    I assumed "ils" and was marked down as the answer required "elles". WHY?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TateBre

    Two answers here are identical


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FranciscoR73175

    I think both "ils / elles" are fine. The context is not clear to know if there are only males, females or both.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tania497707

    How do you know when its he or she as in elles or ils when in english is just "they" in general?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

    You do not know that, so both elles and ils should be accepted.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/isseyh

    This correct answer is the same as the one i clicked but i got it wrong


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/isseyh

    Actually no its not sorry


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShauryaGau

    Clever clever clever


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ArashNezaf

    How am I supposed to tell if "they"are elles or ils It's confusing


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/inezabonte

    i got it wrong when i typed, "Ils écrivent des lettres" somebody please explain why?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

    No, this is absolutely right.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bug543471

    When do i know to say écris or écrivent? In this questing it was écrivent why?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

    You use écris for 1st and 2nd person, so j'écris, tu écris. For they you need écrivent. I don't know what kind of exercise you did, but for this sentence you can hear clearly that this is plural form écrivent. In most cases it's hard to tell from audio.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Juliet877950

    Why is it wrong to use ils écrivent when the English just says They are writing... Can be male or female


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristine466318

    It is not wrong, you are right that they means both "elles" and "ils". The thing is that there can only be ONE right answer, so if in this case the system chose "elles" you have to do the same if you want to get it right. In another instance the system can use "ils" for "they" and you will have to do the same (like it or not).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KateTutty

    'They' can be feminine or masculine.

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