"Il a peur de son ombre."

Translation:He is afraid of his shadow.

March 27, 2013

46 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Seaweed61

if ombre is feminine, why is it son?

May 8, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/brodeurj

Its because in french, when a noun begins with a vowel (or vowel sound such as "h") it takes the masculine "son" to avoid awkward back to back vowel pronunciation such as "sa ombre"

May 8, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/rjpmdpa

I understand. But how is that logical and how is that awkward? Rhetorical question. (French already has many awkward sounds for a non-native speaker.)

March 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SusanMontauk

Spoken French likes to have one word flow into the next and that is awkward when one word ends in a vowel and the next starts in a vowel. It is very similar to the way English uses 'an' instead of 'a' in front of nouns that start with a vowel.'

March 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/poubelledelangue

We have this sort of thing in English but in a far more limited capacity. The indefinite article is "a" except if the noun it precedes starts with a vowel sound, in which case, we say "an". I think it's comparable.

August 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SimonOrr

Why not "He is frightened of his shadow"?

June 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/angela1

Why not 'He has fear of his shadow'?

August 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/SusanMontauk

Because in English fear takes the form of the verb "to be." Other places like that are hunger (english, we are hungry) and finish (we are finished, means simply we have completed a task, not that we are dead, as it would translate word for word into French).

August 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Cephlin

But for fear you would use have. I am scared. I am frightened, I am afraid. I have fear.

January 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/SusanMontauk

But we don't talk about having fear in basic situations, we say we are afraid, or we use fear as a verb: "he fears his shadow." If one is afraid of a class of things, you could say "he has a fear of spiders" or "he is afraid of spiders." Notice that you need the "a" when you use the verb have with fear. We simply don't construct the idea of fear in the same way that romance languages do. I can't think of a sentence or situation where you would say "I have fear." If you were in a situation that frightened you in general, you would naturally say "I am afraid." At a stretch you would say, "I have fears." I think DL is making the point that English and French use different constructions with the idea of fear.

I bumped you up because I accidentally bumped you down, and didn't want to leave that.

January 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Cephlin

Yes, you're right. We would have to say I have a fear of spiders. Not I have fear.

January 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Courtoise

Duo did not accept "He is afraid of her shadow".

Is this incorrect?

January 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Back translation: il a peur de son ombre à elle

July 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
Mod
  • 1651

Grammatically, son or sa may both be "his" or "her", it will be understood as relating to the subject of the sentence (il), so it would be understood as "his". Here is an example that demonstrates how this works:

  • Il est tombé de son cheval = he fell off his horse
  • Il est tombé de son cheval à elle = he fell off her horse
  • Elle est tombée de son cheval = she fell off her horse
  • Elle est tombée do son cheval à lui = She fell off his horse
October 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jorge.a.me1

Spanish also has a similar conundrum: "le tiene miedo a su sombra" in this case, the possessive "su" is understood to refer back to the person who is afraid (whether male or female). If we do not mean it that way, we need to add a clarifying fragment: "le tiene miedo a la sombra de ella." In that way it works similarly to the French equivalent.

February 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/miss.eli

I thought it was nombre.... grrrr

April 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/mahankr

They are indeed pronounced exactly the same. In conversations though, you probably wouldn't make the same mistake :)

November 9, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/to-mor

For years when listening to "Ne me quitte pas" I thought the words were "nombre de ton nombre, nombre de ta main, nombre de ton chien" and couldn't work out why they didn't make any sense at all, and then I saw the written lyrics. Enlightenment!

November 10, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

;-)

November 10, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/mach2.08

Jacques Brel' songs have enlighted us for a long time .... Just a thought for him

November 10, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/sean.mullen

Are you sure they're pronounced the same? I thought the liaison in son ombre denasalizes son? Although I guess in rapid speech, very few would be able to tell.

February 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

son ombre = son-N-ombre = son nombre (not so-Nombre)

February 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/sean.mullen

Little details like this make the learning process much more rewarding. Merci.

February 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/mahankr

I think denasalization only happens with longer words that have a nasalized ending. I think short words like un, ton, etc. keep the nasalized sound even when there is liaison. I am not a native speaker though, so confirmation from someone about this would be great.

February 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/maverickpl

One of the answer choices in a multiple choice question is "He is afraid of his own shadow". How would one say that? "Il a peur de l'ombre de soi"??

March 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

"his own shadow" is "sa propre ombre"

March 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/NickC172

Why is "he has a fear of his shadow" not accepted?

November 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/DianaM

It sounds very stilted in English. It isn't grammatically incorrect, but it is not conventional.

August 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti

Often in English they say "he is afraid of his own shadow" just to make it clear that it is not some other male person's shadow that is meant. In French, they don't need to do that, so I say He is afraid of his own shadow is very often = Il a peur de son ombre.

May 5, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/ferynn

"Il a peur de son ombre" also. I think own is just a stressing mark.

March 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/mahankr

Il a peur de sa propre ombre.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/mach2.08

Does the sentence with his own shadow is accepted? doesn't it sound better,?

May 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

No it is not, even if it sounds better, because the Fr sentence would be: "sa propre ombre"

May 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/SusanMontauk

Sitesurf, I have learned to leave the "own" out if I don't want to be penalized, and I understand the reasoning, but-- "Afraid of one's own shadow" is such a common expression that I would never leave the "own" out when speaking English. I think the question is how do we best learn the meaning of the French sentence. It is a difficult call because if we are just considering the individual words, this one translates easily as long as one remembers that the French "avoir peur" and we English speakers "to be afraid". I do know that a translator of text would include the "own" in an English translation because that is how we would express this idea.

December 29, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Rachel928214

I think "being afraid of one's own shadow" is idiomatic in English. I can't imagine saying it without the "own" part, so I think the translation should be accepted, even if the literal French wording might be different

December 29, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/magicvee23

why not "It is afraid of its shadow"?

January 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

If "it" is an animal, fine, no problem.

January 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/mind-mischief

But if ombre is feminine, shouldn't it be ''sa ombre''

April 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/mach2.08

You think right, but French is sometime ... capricious. But there is always an explanation. Yes, we must say son ombre, but it's only because it sounds better, the two vowels a (de sa) and o (de ombre) wouln'd sound bad, so we say son ombre, so we can do the liaison. (Comme on dit son image, son île ... etc :-)

April 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/M.parlange

in Spanish, if you say «tiene miedo de su sombra» (il a peur de son ombre, he is afraid of his shadow), it is «he is afraid of everything» or «he sees dangers everywhere» that you mean. Is it the same in French and/or in English as well?

December 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SusanMontauk

It certainly is true of English, I assume it means the same in French.

December 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Yes, the same in French as well.

December 25, 2017
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