"The children write letters."

Translation:Les enfants écrivent des lettres.

March 25, 2013

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Why not les lettres???


That would mean "the letters" instead of "some letters"


Why do we need des in the statement


In French, there are 3 indefinite articles: "un" and "une" in singular, and "des" in plural

  • une lettre - des lettres
  • un livre - des livres


I thought des is for non countable things...


"des" is the plural form of "une"


Thanks, I did not know that. Is it the plural form for "un" as well?


Yes it is. The fact that in English "a/an" has no plural form causes lots of problems to French learners!


I dont understand why it wouldn't be l'enfants


"l'enfant" replaces singular "le-enfant" because of the conflict between sound "leuh-" an sound "-en".

in plural, "le" is "les" and liaises with "enfants": leh-Z-enfants


why "des"? Why not "les"?


des lettres is the plural of "une lettre", but in English a plural indefinite article does not exist.

les lettres = the letters


how was i supposed to know it was supposed to have des in it?


"des lettres" is the plural of "une lettre".

"des" is THE plural indefinite article in French that does not exist in English.

"des" is the plural of "un" or "une".

In addition, if you open Tips and Notes of the Basic1 unit (at the bottom of the main lesson page and via a button at the top of every sentence page), you will find full explanations on this matter.


i guess that makes sense... i guess


Can "cartes" be used for "letters'? This is what I'd always heard.


...or maybe this was just because most "letters" we received in my family were actually cards, for birthdays and holidays. Sorry - contextual/cultural gaffe!


Is "écrivent" the plural form or the singular form?


As you can see in this sentence, with a plural subject (the children/les enfants), the correct conjugation is "écrivent".

singular for one child is "écrit"


Thank you Sitesurf! Haha I forgot the singular is ecrit. (Sorry don't know how to type accents in normally)


If you are using android you should be able to just hold down a letter and move your finger to the correct accent. I hope that helps some people


by doing this lesson i thought i came to understand that it isnt a must to write "des" or not, except if "some" is written. so why does it have to be "des lettres" so suddenly if its "the children write letters" and not "some letters" ? what did i miss?


In English "some" is optional to mean "an undefined number of things": they write (some = more than just one) letters.

In French, determiners are required as a general rule.

In this case, "des" is required as the plural indefinite article:

  • ils écrivent une lettre (singular) => ils écrivent des lettres (plural)

Note that in English articles "a/an" do not have a plural form.


Why is ecrivent(s) wrong? I cant work out when to put an s on a verb


An -s is added to the verb stem in various cases:

  • with pronoun "tu", always
  • with pronoun "je", only for verbs of 2nd and 3rd groups (infinitives in -ir or -re)

"écrivent" is the complete form of verb écrire in 3rd person plural.

Conjugation of verb écrire in indicative present: j'écris, tu écris, il/elle/on écrit, nous écrivons, vous écrivez, ils/elles écrivent.

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