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  5. "Il parle des couleurs."

"Il parle des couleurs."

Translation:He is talking about the colors.

March 24, 2013



In English we would say "colors" in general, not "the colors"


Unless we were talking about a specific set of colours e.g. "The man loved the fabrics. He talks about the colours."


True, but that doesn't make the other interpretation incorrect. He could be talking about colors in a general sense.


The French is different :

  • il parle des (=de+les=about the) couleurs = he talks about the colors (specific colors)

  • il parle de couleurs = he talks about colors (general sense)


How do you know when it's "some" colors as opposed to "the" colors? I'm so confused. . .


Do you mean the difference in sound? If so 'des' and 'de' sound similar to the English words 'day' and 'duh' respectively.


Sitesurf, you are a gem. Thanks for this explanation.


I have read a post in a previous lesson that in referring to something in general in French, definite articles are used. For instance, I like flowers becomes J'aime les fleurs. Isnt it?

By the same logic, shouldn't we have de la couleurs for the general sense as well?


Unfortunately, the logic is not the same.

"parler de" is an intransitive verb (need for a preposition), like "talk about".

"j'aime les fleurs" is a statement about your appreciations of flowers in general, hence the definite article in French.

"j'aime les couleurs" would be identical in construction.

but since "parler" requiring preposition "de" you have to use parler de + definite article:

-je parle de la couleur (fem sing)

-je parle du drapeau (masc sing) - de+le, contracted in "du"

-je parle des couleurs (fem plur) - de+les, contracted in "des"


How can we distinguish de from des when spoken?


The pronunciation is a bit different: de /d/ and des /de/. If it's des+vowel you can even hear the /s/


It's a question of nuances ,because the intonation is the same when there isn't liaison between the article +Noun; in the pronuntiation of" de" or "le" you must close your mouth meanwhile in "des"or "les" you have to open your mouth ( Nous parlons des garçons) When then Noun begin with a vowel there's liaison and you hear the sound of "s"(Nous parlons des enfants)


Big thanks again sitesurf... what a difference a letter makes! So easy to miss.


Thanks man. You're brilliant


How do you know when "des" means the plural of "un(e)" and when it means "de+les"?


You may try to put the sentence in singular:

  • je mange des pommes -> une mange une pomme = I eat an/one apple / direct and indefinite object
  • je parle des pommes -> je parle de la pomme = I talk about the apple / indirect and specific object


Merci beaucoup, maintenant je comprends.


And why can't it mean "he talks about colours", where "des" is referring to colours in general?


It can be "he talks about colours" as the plural of "he talks about a colour" (or "one colour"), to mean "an undefined number of colours".

And that would also mean "colours" in general.


According to Google translate "He talks about colors" (no article) is translated to "Il parle de couleurs" (de instead of des)

Is that correct?

Source: "http://translate.google.de/#en/fr/He%20talks%20about%20colors"


I thought that "des" mean there is no article. why did it say i'm incorrect when I said "he is talking about colors"?


talk about something = parler de quelque chose

in French "quelque chose" has to get its usual article, in this instance "les couleurs".

but when "de" is followed by "les", there is a contraction: de+les = des

so "des couleurs" is not the plural of "une couleur", but the plural of "de la couleur" -> des couleurs.

therefore, in English you need to translate to "about the colors"


Thank you again, This has been really difficult to understand, and very confusing, but your explanations have been a great help.


So confusing: "des couleurs" must be "the colors" but "des baguettes" is just "baguettes."


Salut! I've read the whole thread and now understand, thanks to the posts of sitesurf and DanHil. Merci beacoup mes amis! One more question, s'il vous plaît? Whether or not an article is used, also depends upon the verb being used? For example:

Il mange des baguettes = He is eating baguettes (or 'some' baguettes). Il parle des couleurs = He is talking about the colors.

Using the verb 'parle des' (or parler de), the article is used. Using the verb 'mange', the article is not used.

So, it depends on the verb, as well as the other things you've already mentioned?


Indeed, the verb makes a lot of difference, whether it is transitive (direct object) or not (with a preposition).

Manger, prendre, couper, boire... are directly transitive:

  • il mange une baguette, elle achète des baguettes (des = plural of un/une)

but with uncountable "mass words", French add a preposition to mean "some":

  • nous coupons du pain (uncountable), vous buvez de l'eau (uncountable) et de la bière (uncountable)

Parler de, penser à... are used with prepositions, which need to adapt the construction of the object.

  • je parle d'une baguette (about one), il parle de baguettes (about more than one),nous parlons de la baguette (about the), vous parlez des baguettes (about the = de+ les = des))

In addition, appreciation verbs (aimer, détester, haïr, préférer, apprécier) naturally introduce definite articles

  • j'aime les légumes, mais je préfère les fruits, il déteste l'injustice, elle préfère la biologie...


Merci!  I am Grateful for your reply.
So, Duolingo made a mistake, when they marked "He talks about girls" a correct translation of "Il parles des filles"?
I need to know if it's a mistake, before I report it as a lesson error, s'il vous plaît.


If Duo says so, it is an error.

Look at this to differentiate indefinite articles from definite articles:


  • il parle d'une fille (singular) -> il parle de filles (plural)

  • he talks about a girl (singular) -> he talks about girls (plural: a/an has no plural form)


  • il parle de la fille (singular) -> il parle des (= de + les) filles (plural)

  • he talks about the girl (singular) -> he talks about the girls (plural)


Merci! Thank you so much! Your teaching has helped me (and will help others) very much.
The next time I come across that Duolingo sentence, I will let them know about the error.
Joyeux Noël!


Thanks for your wishes, in return, I wish you a happy holiday season!


Thank you for this reply. I am more clear now. Duo lingo certainely has an error in "il parle des filles". Merci beaucoup pour votre aide et joyeux noel !!


Have a lingot! You're very helpful. :-)


Thank you for posting the same question as me :-) "Il parle des filles" confused me a lot as well. joyeux noel my friend !!


Why THE colours ?


Why not some colors?


Couldn't it be "he talks about some colors."?

[deactivated user]

    Just out of curiosity, if this were a description of seeing someone talk and seeing colors coming out of their mouth, would this be a correct way to describe it?


    No it wouldn't, Jacob and a good morning to you, (well, it is 0720 in the morning here in England, anyroad.) This just says that he is speaking of colours, not that colours are being emitted from his mouth. (Des Coleurs Sortent De Sa Bouche.)


    Why not: "He talks about colours"?


    Why is he speaks of colours not acceptable?


    why is it 'the colors' if colors is preceded by the indefinite article?


    "des" is not the indefinite article (plural of "une couleur": in singular: "il parle d'une couleur".

    it is preposition "de" + definite article "les", contracted.

    verb "parler de" uses preposition "de", while "talk about" uses preposition "about"


    which is the difference between 'ils parlent' and 'il parle' at pronunciation?


    There is none.


    If one were to say "He talks about colours" would it still be "Il parle des couleurs"?

    Or would the translation change?


    Des is used for 'some' instead of 'the' .. may require reconsideration. Regards


    Des, the article, means some.
    Des, the contraction means of the, from the, or some.

    Note: In this sentence, the phrase of the is another way of saying about the.


    I thought 'les' was for 'the', not 'des'.


    "Les" is indeed "The" before a plural noun. "Des" as an article="Some" but "Des" is also a contraction of "De+Les" = "Of The" and as SongbirdSandra says above; in this task "Of The" is another way of saying "About The".


    Thank you for clearing that up. It makes sense.


    All lessons say des means some smd now here it it the. Im confuses


    1) "des" is either an indefinite article, plural of "un/une"

    2) or a contracted definite article where preposition "de" is merged with definite article "les": de+les = des

    now, in terms of meaning and translation to and from English, there are several cases:

    1) "un chien = a/one dog" is singular; "des chiens = (some) dogs" is plural.

    • In English, you don't need an article to mean "an undefined number of dogs or more than one dog".
    • But in French, "des" is required.

    2) "les noms des chiens" = literally: "the names of the dogs", where you understand that the names belong to the dogs.

    • In English, you will not use "of the" but the possessive case: "the dogs' names"
    • But in French, there is no such construction, so you have to keep: "les noms (de+les=) des chiens"


    @sitesurf you looks like à super-héro..always helps up when we're stuck..


    I wrote: Il parle de couleur (he is talking about the colour) It was marked as incorrect. How do you differentiate between the pronunciation of the plural and the singular?


    When listening to de couleurs and des couleurs how would know that de couleurs is not de couleur? So how would i know by listening that it is 'of the colours' not 'of the colour' . Usually the plural is identified by des as opposed to de sound. Thanks

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