1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "Ils mangent du poisson les v…

"Ils mangent du poisson les vendredis."

Translation:They eat fish on Fridays.

March 25, 2013



Shouldn't 'they eat fish Fridays' be correct?


The 'on' is sometimes missed out in conversational English, but it's incorrect grammar for it to be left out in written English.

Edit: apparently style guides say that 'on' can be missed out in written English as well.


I think you could get away with leaving "on" out in something like "What do you do on Fridays?", so "What do you do Fridays?" is perfectly acceptable. As another example, "I exercise on Fridays" and "I exercise Fridays" are both acceptable. However, in this case "fish Fridays" sounds peculiar because it sounds like the speaker is talking about a type of Friday, not that they eat fish regularly every Friday. The reason is because "fish" directly in front of "Fridays" acts like an adjective. It modifies the noun "Fridays", so it sounds like a type of Friday.


This is a wrong claim. When referring to specified dates, "on" is ommitted in writing. Thus, we say, "I'll meet you Monday." That's according to The Chicago Manual of Style and other similar style guides. Copy editors follow that convention.


Omg, you have me agreeing with the Chicago Manual of Style. I'm so ashamed.


Interesting. Thx.

I was surprised to see categorical rejection of the dropped on by Duo and many commenters.


Oh, I didn't know that, thank you! It seems I'm learning English grammar here as well as French grammar. I'd kill for a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.

I lost the source for what I said, but it must have had some credence, otherwise I wouldn't have used it. Not that it really matters that much.


I would disagree with you about what makes something incorrect grammar, but nevertheless, the fact that we're typing answers in doesn't mean that we're learning only formal, written language here.


Of course, but I'd rather learn what's grammatically correct before learning what's conversational.


And that's what I meant when I said I'd disagree about what's grammatically incorrect. But also, I didn't mean to imply that in this case, dropping 'on' would (or should) be incorrect in written English. I'm sure there are some teachers and editors out there who would disagree, but I think they are working from counterfeit rules. I can find numerous examples in published lit where 'on' is dropped in similar sentences.


It's definitely incorrect in formal English.


Hey, neverfox! May I switch a comment to the issue of Duo's use of "present continuous" here? By using "present continuous" (They are eating....) the meaning of the sentence describes a temporary habit, not a continuous one. It indicates that this behavior is expected to be discontinued at some point. By using "simple present" (They eat fish on Fridays), it describes a continuous habit, not a temporary one; i.e., they ALWAYS eat fish on Fridays; it's not just for a short time. Please ignore the "on" for the sake of this conversation. http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/present-continuous-use.html : Paragraph #3. It would seem that the French sentence supports the idea that this action takes place EVERY friday; there is nothing in the context to suggest a limited time period. Therefore, the simple present is closer to the original French, IMO.


I can't really disagree. However, I think actual speakers can be heard using it with actions that are permanent for all intents and purposes, e.g. "Aren't you teaching at the university?" or, more relevant, "I am buying less beef now that we are eating fish on Fridays." Perhaps not textbook correct, but I think people talk that way and have what they say accepted by audiences. As with a lot of things in English, sometimes it's just a undefinable thing that some sentences seem to work when you "break the rules" while some, like our sentence here, seem odd sounding given the intent.


Right. My reference is not about all uses of present continuous, just this one. The context of the various sentences here: fish on Fridays, teaching at the university, etc., will each have to present their own justification for using present continuous. And, of course, I'm speaking about what the French is saying and trying to match that sense. Some of these example could use either simple present or continuous present because they are more or less ambiguous if it is a perpetual thing or a temporary thing. The "Ils mangent du poisson les vendredis" example does not constrain the action to a limited time and there is nothing to infer that it is temporary, therefore, simple present would be my first choice. At the same time, IF you inject the idea that it is just temporary (e.g., eating fish on Friday during Lent), then the continuous present would be quite appropriate. Whenever an example is presented to show that continuous present should be used, you will probably find an additional clause which provides the context which justifies it. Remove the clause and see if you still come to the same conclusion. I hope I was able to make that more clear. BTW, thanks for your excellent link that you provided.


For me, this sentence seems to be: they often eat fish on Friday or they eat fish every Friday. So, present simple should be applied here.


People never say that sentence without on


Yes, they do. The fact that so many English speakers seem to be getting pegged for it should tell you as much.


This was my thought too. No need for "on."


this trapped me as well :/


It should. With written English it is better to say 'on Fridays,' but both are correct and leaving out the 'on' in spoken English is common.


Not in England, it isn't!


To me, "they eat fish friday" is either wrong or they're eating something called "fish friday". Like a tasty kind of fish pie or something. Are you from the US? Because I'm just thinking of NZ/UK english.


'they're eating something called "fish friday".'

Exactly what I thought.


Another poster said categorically on another thread that it is incorrect English grammar to leave out on in this kind of sentence. I tried to research it but it was taking too much time. Especially, since Duo seems to agree with him.

I lost a heart for writing See you Sunday instead of on Sunday, in another example, even though there was nothing in the French that could be translated as on. The poster said it was the English that absolutely required on in front of Sunday not the French.


Colloquially, people often mince or leave out words but that doesn't make what they're saying grammatically correct. E.g. "Where you been?" instead of "Where have you been?" or "Whatcha talkin bout?" instead of "What are you talking about?"

For a program like this, it makes sense to stick to proper grammar. First I'm going to learn the basics and then I'll start learning how people speak French in real life so that I don't sound like a tool :) For example, they often say "Shui" [phonetically] instead of "Je suis".


It sounds stupid for me (-_-)


I replied "they eat fish every friday" and it is worked.


Ok well I am French and saying "le vendredi" may eventually be the more correct way to put it if you want to speak well but nothing forbids you to say "les vendredis" if you want to. You can check here some French people speaking about whether or not "les vendredis" should take an "s" or not. And no one is surprized by the use of "les vendredis" and no one says that it is incorrect (for it is not).


I hope this helps


How would you distinguish "They are eating fish on Friday" (this Friday) from "They eat fish on Fridays" (every Friday)?


Interesting. I'm curious about that as well now. I wouldn't think 'les' would change, as that would be used for 'every' as well. I would assume it would change the presence of the sentence. Since "They eat" can be interpreted in both present and future tense in English. However 'mange' is purely present tense in French - to my knowledge.


How am I supposed to hear a difference between "ils mangent" and "il mange"?


Yeah, there's no way to hear the difference; they're homonyms. You can hear the difference with verbs that start with vowels. "Il adore" vs "Ils adorent". The latter sounds like "Eel zadore".


This irritates me; sentences that could go either way get marked wrong if you guess wrong.


Report it. It's free. It's not perfect. Help make it better.


I agree. There is no way to tell the difference therefore I think they should accept both as correct answers. I feel you.


Ya, they posts above are correct. It also depends on context


it should be le vendredi if it means every Friday, les vendredis, never seen that before


Agreed. Three semesters of college-level French and I have only ever seen "le lundi, le mardi, le vendredi" etc. when you want to say "each Monday, each Tuesday, each Friday"... I have never once seen "les" and a plural form of the day used for this; I'm quite certain it's a mistake on Duolingo's part.


How do you know when to use "les vendredis" versus "le vendredi"? I thought "le vendredi" already meant ALL Fridays. Help?


As an intermediate learner of French, I've never seen 'les vendredis' or any day of the week in its plural form in my life. I would just go with 'le vendredi'.


They eat fish on Fridays!!! Don't kill the English language please...


A Lenten tradition!


Regardless of the issue of English dialects that require "on" and other ones that don't, I find that the listed English version, "They are eating fish on Fridays", suffers more from a different problem. In my dialect, it is rather strange to use the form "are eating" to describe a recurring action, rather than a current one. In other words, I would only say "they are eating…" if they were in the middle of a meal. If I was telling someone about the customary main course for their Friday dinners, I would say, "They eat fish on Fridays", or possibly even, "They eat fish on Friday".


Good point. I didn't even notice that!


I think this is a case of there being something lost in translation when different tenses are used.

In English, we use the simple present, among other things, for describing regular habits:

  • "I eat fish on Fridays. "

  • "I walk to work."

We use the present progressive tense to describe an action happening now and continuing to the future. These are "ing" words:

  • "We are eating our dinner."

The French have an equivalent to the English present progressive (the present participle), and these words usually end in "-ant".

BUT.......... the present participle CAN NEVER be used to talk about what someone is doing.

In French, therefore, if you want to say "I eat......", or "I am eating....", it is ALWAYS "Je mange".

The wise owl working around these parts then assumes that whenever it asks you to interpret "Je mange" (tu, il, elle etc), it can mean either "I eat" or "I am eating" in English.


I understand that computer-generated translations are not at all simple, and I expect to find some oddities and errors. Most of my comments on this forum have been written with the hope of informing non-native English speakers. It's not clear to what extent each phrase is used by both groups (those learning French and those learning English), but some discussions seem to include a few people learning English as well as those learning French.


I think point michael.richters is making is that it didn't need to be "lost in translation." Duo could just has easily (and should) have written the English in the simple present. It would not have contradicted the French verb and it would not be strange to English speakers.


I guess so!! I learnt in english as my second language that I use gerund "ing" when a thing, It is happening now, at this moment and I agree with Michael richters!


Thank you. Cockney and Oxford!


Isn't "they are eating fish on Fridays" a bit strange-sounding? "They eat fish on Fridays" is accepted, but that first translation is the suggested one, and the present continuous tense doesn't work well here (caveat: US speaker here).


In Hiberno-English I agree that the present participle 'eating' sounds a little strange here.


What's wrong with writing "They eat Friday's fish" ? I thought that way of writing was to indicate ownership like "du chapeau les garcon" for the boys' hat. I understand the correct answer is a very different meaning, but I'm confused.


"The boys' hat" is «Le chapeau des garçons».


So for the sake of this sentence, would 'Ils mangent du poisson des vendredis" be "They eat Friday's fish"?


I think that would be just «de vendredi.» It might be «de vendredis» if it's something that's true of all Fridays, but I'm at the limit of my knowledge about the rules there. Weekday plurals can be a tricky thing in French.


Hmm. Thanks. Yeah, I find it quite hard understanding ownership clauses.


The given sentence does not use a possessive. There are three pages of information here about French possession. Perhaps they will help rid you of the confusion. http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/possession.htm


Thanks. Pretty useful page/s.


It has always been my understanding that in regard to time and dates, such as "le vendredi," that means EVERY Friday. So Les Vendredis would be redundant.


I get a distinct impression some people have lost the thread amongst all the opinions. I know I did.

The word 'on' appears to clarify the context of the sentence in English to me, so seems more correct than the ambiguity of missing it out.

Trying to establish a consensus of opinion on colloquial spoken English seems a rather fruitless endeavour.

The colloquial version of English we speak in Sunderland (Mackem) differs from region to region within it's own boundaries, never mind from the nearest city! It's practically archaic more closely related to Old English combined with various Germanic / Norse and modern European influences, so would be completely useless as a point of reference for this rather intense debate! o_O


les=on??? It should be Fridays or on Fridays but les???


I can't speak to the plural question as others have, but when you're talking about a unique event, you do not use the article "le". If you're talking about something that happens repeatedly on a certain day, use the article, i.e., "Je vois Pierre le lundi" to mean "I see Pierre on Mondays". So because the article is used here, we would say "They eat fish on Fridays". But it is NOT because "les" is translated as "on".


And the translation is poor English


Why not 'they eat fish on Fridays' Where does on come from in the French?


I don't buy hearts because I want to learn by mistakes but these things irritate. They eat fish Fridays. Wrong! About the third time I.ve been caught with this particular expression.


It's not correct grammar to say "they eat fish fridays". Apparently it's commonly spoken, but I haven't really heard it much. Anyway, there are a lot of things that are commonly said but are wrong. E.g. "I could care less" which actually means... I care more about this than I do about something else. The correct phrase is "I couldn't care less", but that doesn't stop people saying the first one. My point is... you might disagree with me that "they eat fish fridays" is wrong, but I wouldn't hold out for duolingo to change it any time soon.


"Anyway, there are a lot of things that are commonly said but are wrong."

Sure, but wrong how? "I could care less" isn't wrong grammatically; it's wrong because people say it when they usually mean the opposite. That's not the case with "They eat fish Fridays." At some point, if your proposed grammar rule doesn't predict the systematic patterns of English as used by native speakers when they are saying what they mean, then it's your proposed grammar rule that's wrong, not them.


We could argue day and night about that. I personally don't accept that it's correct english. I think it's bad english that is common in one part of the world.

Every country has it's own common mistakes. In New Zealand it's common to hear "I've not done nothing" which means "I didn't do anything". e.g. "What did you do yesterday? I didn't do nothing". Do you think that's correct? It's definitely common. What about "I went there on the car". Admittedly that's only common in some places in NZ but common there none the less. I assume it came from confusing on a bus/plane/boat/bike with a car.

Here's one that tripped up me and my fiancée the other day: NZ and America have a completely different understanding of "just about" from the UK. The more we accept common mistakes as "grammar" the more this kind of thing happens. I don't personally think that's good.

Just out of curiosity, do you also say any of these?

  • we celebrate christmas December
  • we're having dinner seven
  • where are you? I'm school


"We could argue day and night about that." - Yes, we could, but it's also not, ultimately, a subjective matter.

"The more we accept common mistakes as "grammar" the more this kind of thing happens. I don't personally think that's good."

First of all, calling them "common mistakes" begs the question. Secondly, I said "systematic" and not merely "common" for a reason. Systematic use is different from merely common use. Systematic use is the kind of use that explains why we don't speak and write English like Chauser (despite our "personal feelings"). It's not about being merely common; it's about being "systematically and deliberately employed by speakers and writers, and systematically and knowingly accepted by audiences." (h/t radgeek) When something attains that status, even if only regionally, then it's not up to you or me whether it's bad grammar, a misspelling, etc. any more that it's up to you or me that "Of other folk he saw enough in woe" should be considered bad English because it was once "Of oother folk he saugh ynowe in wo."


I thought your whole argument was that it was a subjective matter. Simplified: if the subjects use it and accept it then it is correct.

How about pidgin english? Is it correct english? It's systematic and accepted by many people.


Wow, basically anything can be correct then so long as a certain group of people think it is. What did you think of my examples from NZ? Should duolingo accept those?


I don't understand how you don't understand how I got that from what you're saying. How could there possibly be a breakdown in understanding when we're both native speakers of the same language...

Surely grammar should be agreed upon between countries. If there are differences in spoken language that's fine. You can miss out "on" all you like but no one does in NZ so why should I consider it good grammar?

The line between common usage and systematic/accepted usage is blurred anyway. Obviously this particular sentence is right on that blur and neither of us is going to be convinced of the other's arguments. Good day!


Yes, as far as the bounds of a systematic web of deliberate employment and acceptance extends and can be identified as such (as is the case for 18 or so pidgin English variations). Outside of that it is, for all intents and purposes, another language, but then it's not incorrect American (or British etc.) English anymore than speaking French is. To be a mistake of American English, one would have to attempting to speak that and then fail relative to that web of use. Think of how silly it would be for someone from England to tell an American that their English is bad because they say "elevator" and not "lift." Obviously an absurd claim. That's really no different than your pidgin example, because it assumes there are no other overlapping but distinctly identifiable webs of systematic use.

And no, my argument is not that it's subjective. It's that it's not, in the first place, prescriptive. Rather, it's first and foremost descriptive.


How did you get that from what I said? In fact, I very explicitly said the opposite. So in regard to your examples from NZ, I don't have an opinion, because I don't know enough to know if that's merely common usage, or systematic usage and acceptance (there's a difference, and only the latter dictates grammar), use it literature or media by skilled writers etc. Furthermore, being that this is French from France we're learning, I have no problem with Duolingo sticking to English from America or Great Britain. There are practical matters to consider as much as anything.


`I am getting a little lost with all this stuff on grammar. As I recall cave men spoke and grammar came along some time later; I expect to generalise some made up rules. Of course Shakespeare developed this somewhat and our schools with their rules emphasised the need for the rules. Thank God for Blake!. The point is spoken language evolves. This shifts the grammar. It takes time and should not be rushed but 'le weekend' and 'innit' are all parts of the rich thread. But for me and Duolingo with the de des de la du le les au en dans and a it would be great if they were treated as a typo and corrected at the time. This would be more appropriate and come at the exact point of learning. A little explanation at the time would be even better. But to get a whole complicated expression wrong because you use les or des and not le or de with poisson for example is frustrating and dampens enthusiasm. Just a thought!


To me "I could care less" means exactly what it says.eg " I care much to much. I could care less but am emotionally involved with them.". Non of that equates with "I couldn't care less"


I don't know where you're from. It's only in widespread use in the U.S. as far as I know. But over there it's used and accepted in place of I couldn't care less. http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/could+care+less


Why the article before "vendredis?"


That is how you talk about recurring events in French.


Why "du poisson" instead of "des poisson?" In this context wouldn't "poisson" be plural?


When talking about food and drink, use un, une, des for countable items (une banane; des haricots verts) but use du, de la, de l' for items that can't be counted or parts of wholes (du riz - we don't count the grains as 1 rice, 2 rices; du lait - you can count glasses of milk but not the milk itself; de la viande - most meats get du bc you're not eating every piece. You're eating part of the fish/chicken/beef, not the eyes, scales, bones, etc.) I think we'd only use des if we were talking about multiple whole fish that you are purchasing or see in the water, versus eating.


As an aside, I once attended a barbecue with some friends and acquaintances, and we had whole fish.

One guy, who was Maori, asked if we had finished eating........... before he proceeded to pluck the fish eyes out and eat them. He said they "pop" when you bite into them.

Ewwwwwww !


When dealing with quantity or eating, you always use de la/du.


Thanks! So many questions, sorry! :)


Uhm, I'm actually glad that there isn't a need to use a preposition because so far it's been quite rocky trying to comprehend the various rules involved^-^;


Still confused. Sitesurf, can you explain why its "..les vendredis" and not "..en vendredis"?


Why does les translate to on?


And here I thought fish was a Friday's special


Why it must be Fridays? I ususlly day Friday, to mean every Friday. Have I been committing grammar crime?


I do think you need the plural to make it clear you mean it happens regularly, on more than one Friday.


I have never heard anyone say they eat fish on Fridays. I suppose it may be more gramatically correct but people leave the "s" off.

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