Here is my problem. I know perfectly well what each French word means, and I could translate it word-for-word. However, I never know if Duo wants the literal translation or will accept or even expects more idiomatic English (which of course varies by geographical location).
At what point do you decide that you're not learning any more French from a particular skill even if you don't always remember the exact English translation that Duo wants?
This is the same thing i have been thinking for a long time. I have no desire to become a perfect speaking or writingFrenchman. I do want to go to France and be able to communicate to my cousins in basic conversations. I have noticed on Facebook that the idioms and local conversations I see do not translate to what I see here most of the time. So I ignore the ridiculous expectations of this course on some of these translations and concentrate on the overall program as best I can. Excuse the rant please.
I still don't think this works - surely it should be 'these two' not 'the two' wether they are alive, lively or anything else. This is the confusing thing about duolingo, its a bit odd for those phrases where its perfectly sensible in the chosen language but grammatically not something we would ever say in English, but still correct - it all makes my head hurt!
"These two" would be "ces deux". True, this particular sentence is a little odd but it's not too hard to imagine a context for it:
"Three of my sons followed in their father's footsteps and joined the army, while the other two moved to Canada to avoid the draft. The three are dead. The two are alive."
Thank you for your reply Sitesurf. However, my doubts remain. Can't 'les hommes sont vivants' be translated as either, 'men are alive' or 'the men are alive'? And therefore can't the same ambiguous interpretation be applied to 'les deux sont vivants'? That is to say, either 'two' or 'the two'.
« Deux » - "two" - is very precise. It means no more and no less than 2. I don't see how you can have 2 generally. Note that most nouns in French need some sort of qualifier, often a determiner such as « le », « la », « des », etc. Numbers can also qualify a noun, and when they do you rarely use a determiner as well.
- « Je mange deux fraises » - "I am eating two strawberries"
- « Je mange des fraises » - "I am eating (some) strawberries"
- « Je mange les fraises » - "I am eating the strawberries" - either the specific strawberries right here that were mentioned before or all the strawberries generally, all the strawberries in the world
- « Je mange les deux fraises » - "I am eating the two strawberries" - It is already known that there are only two strawberries here and I am eating both of them
In summary, I'd say that « les » can only be general when there's no number. Any mention of a number makes it specific.
It's incorrect because this particular sentence is referring to being alive, lively means like someone is "full of life" - meaning they act like they're alive. I guess, I don't know how to explain it. Either way, it's correct to say "The two are alive/living", not lively though.
The meaning is fine, but we add "tous/toutes" in such a case (the two of them as the best back translation I can think of).
My parents used to say "tous deux" or "toutes deux", but it seems that it was regional and I don't hear it much nowadays.
Please watch this old ad and focus on the guy's answer to the girl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI_B66kgmUY
Thank you CJ. Dennis and mere_des_chats for your helpful comments and analysis of 'les deux sont vivants'. Of course, I accept the fact that the article 'les' cannot be dropped in the translation but I was not entirely sure why. I am now wiser. Generalized meanings are a property of nouns, and in the context of this sentence 'deux' is not a noun - therefore the 'les', conferring a particular meaning, has to be translated. Right?
I think you are right in saying 'deux' is an adjective to a missing noun implied by the sentence. I believe this type of construction is known as ellipsis. However, if, as you say, 'two' is standing in for a noun phrase - 'two people' for example - this would make 'two' a pronoun. But it's not. 'Two' stands for nothing but itself - and the missing noun (people, men, women, cats, dogs ... whatever) is implied by the sentence rather than represented by the 'two'.
You are correct in stating that "two" by itself usually stands for nothing else but the number. However, when you add the article "the" to the word "two", you form a pronoun standing in for a specific noun of which two exist.
And actually, come to think of it...."two" can be a pronoun, if referring to a portion of more than two.
"Of all the boys that entered the context, only two finished the race."
The word "two" is functioning as a pronoun standing in for "two of all the boys".
I had translated as "those two are alive" but got refused. As I understand from the other explanations, this short sentence is context sensitive. If I had some earlier sentences related to this one, I might have translated as expected but having just those "quatre mots" I insist with my translation.