"They are writing letters."

Translation:Elles écrivent des lettres.

March 23, 2013



why is 'elles ecrivent les lettres' wrong

June 19, 2015


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

September 3, 2018


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

June 1, 2013


'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 ^^.

June 10, 2013


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.

September 20, 2014


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

September 18, 2014


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!

October 22, 2014


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

December 4, 2018


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

April 21, 2013


"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 :)

April 29, 2013


"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.

February 19, 2014


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.

July 29, 2019


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

November 4, 2015


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

November 22, 2018


Why des and not les?

July 31, 2018


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

November 18, 2013


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."

December 3, 2013


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

May 7, 2014


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").

June 13, 2019


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

December 22, 2013


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.

February 23, 2014


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

January 29, 2014


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

July 17, 2014


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“

October 18, 2014


Can i use de la lettres

February 24, 2015


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!

January 30, 2016


why doesnt is accept vous?

February 29, 2016


I am i do not 2nd

August 14, 2016


I keep getting mixed up

January 2, 2017



April 5, 2017


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

June 29, 2017


Thx. Jo z

March 15, 2018


Yes yang jcya xessF

May 10, 2018


Why des ?

October 23, 2018


"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.

November 23, 2018


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

March 4, 2019


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

March 4, 2019


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

March 31, 2019


Two answers here are identical

April 23, 2019


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

June 22, 2019


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

July 25, 2019
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