https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David258082

"Le raisin est rouge"

Hey all, just trying to understand the reason this sentence translates as the grapes are red. Shouldn't "le raisin" be "les raisins"? I am just looking for a little understanding. If it is just a French idiosyncrasy, so be it. I am just working hard on understanding plurals in the language. Thanks for any guidance!!

May 5, 2018

7 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

Well, "le raisin" refers to grapes in general when it is at the beginning of a sentence. They use the definite article for generalizations when we would use the indefinite article. So that sentence can also be "Grapes are red.", luckily they also accept the definite form in case a specific amount of grapes are red.

For this particular word in French, they are talking about a branch of grapes and they say un grain de raisin to specify one grape. I guess you can't eat just one! I know I can't.

https://dictionary.reverso.net/french-english/raisin

https://www.thoughtco.com/introduction-to-french-articles-1368810

May 5, 2018

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

Great explanation!

I read a comment somewhere that suggested we compare "Le raisin est rouge" to "The rice is white" - the French see grapes in a collective way, much as English speakers see rice. When we say "the rice" we're not talking about "one rice", and "le raisin" is talking about grapes in a similar fashion.

May 5, 2018

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

This seems fitting. When it comes to being unable to break down a mass of food into a singular quantity, the French have trouble with the grapes... the Americans, on the other hand, with the carbs.

May 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EL5tEL

Thank you!! I just came across the sentence too. The related discussion was long and I didn't read every comment - but walked away wondering how I would say the grape is red. Now I know!!! Thanks for the explanation.

May 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Qwl8143

You have good reason to be confused! My best guess for this inconcistincy is the differing needs for the word "the" in French along with some confusion among the coursmakers.

In French, you cannot make a simple sentence like "grapes are red" because "the" is necessary for every noun, regardless of the context. In English we only use "the" when we're talking about something we are personally experiencing, not for general facts. In French, "le," "la," and "les" are used in both scenarios.

The main problem here is that there is only one way to translate the French sentence, but two ways to translate the English sentence:

Grapes are red. or The grape is red.

The (this) grape is red.

The two sentences are fundamentally different because they include more information about the context of the grape, the first example being a general fact and the second example being a personal observation.

"Le raisin est rouge." In this case is talking about "the grape" as a general fruit, though this is not clear based on the French sentences without more context clues.

Also, I believe the coursemakers accidentally said "the" because normally we don't use "the" when stating general facts, as I have said before. Roses are red, Violets are blue...

Sorry if this post is a bit long. I hope that it is more helpful than it is confusing :/

May 5, 2018

[deactivated user]

    grapes arent red theyre purple yo

    April 14, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

    Grapes do come in green, red or purple. I’m sorry that you haven’t found the red ones in your area.

    April 14, 2019

    Related Discussions

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