1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. "Ce sont de bons signes."

"Ce sont de bons signes."

Translation:These are good signs.

March 28, 2013



why isn't it "des"?


because the adjective is in front of the noun.


Is it always " de" instead of "des" when the adjective comes before the noun?


It should, in proper French.


why de? Why not "Ce sont bons signes. "


French indefinite articles are: un (masc sing), une (fem sing), des (plural).

"un signe" is the singular version and "des signes" is the plural version.

Yet, when "des" is placed in front of an adjective, it becomes "de":

  • des signes positifs -- de bons signes


Sir when the adjective should be in front of the noun and when it should be after it ?


Basically, there are 3 categories of adjectives:

  • regular: placed after the noun they qualify
  • irregular: placed before the noun (re. BANGS)
  • mixed: before or after the noun with nuances in meaning.

More here:




Why is it "ce" and not "ces"


The reason why you have to use "ce" is not what AlejoFernandez proposes here.

The reason is that in both expressions "c'est" or "ce sont", "ce" is a pronoun that has to remain invariable.

"Ces" is a demonstrative adjective (= these/those): ce livre (singular) - ces livres (plural)


Sitesurf I think you've explained this to me before but it escapes me!

Here is why: I think the problem is the English equivalent to the word "ces" as used in "ces sont".

I explain-

Duo translates "c'est..." to "This is..." or "It is..."
Then we know the English plural of "This is..." and "It is..." is "These are..."

You would then have to 'forgive' our misunderstanding when:

1) This book is interesting = Ce livre est interessant


2) These books are interesting = Ces livres sont interessants


3) These are good signs = Ce sont de bons signes

These two "These" in (2) and (3) are different in the French translations.

Or am I wrong in these translations?

Help! Some of us don't have a degree in English to know what a "demonstrative article" means. I just wanna speak French.


A think that in 2, the word "these" works as an adjective for books (what books? these books), while in 3, "these" substitutes books and they work as a (pro)noun. For what I understand, "ces" is the adjective form of "these", and "ce" is the pronoun form of "these" (and of "this" as well). Hope this helps!


Is that accurate? If so, that is an excellent explanation. Very helpful, Kipling.


Yes, "ces" is a demonstrative adjective (goes before a noun) , and in 3 "ce" is a demonstrative pronoun (replaces a noun), but when "ce" is used before a noun (as in "ce livre") it is a demonstrative adjective like "ces"


Excellent explanation, but wouldn't it then also be correct to construct the expression using demonstrative pronouns "celles sont.." or "ceux sont...".


I am not sure I have a clear explanation why "ceux" and "celles" cannot be used as subjects by themselves (without their suffixes: -ci or -là).

They can be used by themselves in 2 constructions:

  • possessive: voici ceux/celles de mon mari = here are my husband's
  • antecedent to a relative pronoun:

As subjects: ceux/celles qui arrivent = these/those arriving

As objects: ceux/celles que j'ai trouvé/e/s = here are these/those I found.

So for the time being, please remember these demonstrative pronouns can appear as:

  • celui-ci, celui-là, celle-ci, celle-là, ceux-ci, ceux-là, celles-ci, celles-là
  • celui de/que, celle de/qui/que, ceux de/qui/que, celles de/qui/que


You'd use the reinforced forms if you were indicating a particular group: 'ceux-ci sont' for 'these are', or 'ceux-la sont' for 'those are' (swans being masculine). Or, say, 'ceux du voisin sont' for 'the neighbour's ones are'. But if you're not explicitly indicating which group you're referring to, you always use the neutral 'ce sont', although I'm not sure I can explain why.


I found this elsewhere on Duolingo which (thank you!) helped answer this very tricky point. I pass it on.

First of all, we have to understand that Ce could be a demonstrative adjective or a indefinite demonstrative pronoun:

Demonstrative Adjective

It always comes before a noun and agree with gender and number with the noun its modify:

Ce: masculine singular (this/that) * Ce garçon est petit

Cet: masculine singular before vowel or mute H (this/that) * Cet homme est grand

Cette: feminine singular (this/that) * Cette fille est jolie

Ces: masculine/feminine plural (these/that) Ces hommes sont grands Ces femmes sont belles

Indefinite Demonstrative Pronoun

It refers to a noun previosly mentioned, it is impersonal and unvariable. Does not change acordding with gender ou number. Mainly used with the verb être and means it or this.

•C'est la vie

•C'est important


Now answering the title question, the correct form is: Ce sont les garçons - in this case ce is used to refer something/someone mentioned before, and we can also realize that it is not followed by a noun. It would be WRONG to say Ces sont ... because the PRONOUN Ce is UNVARIABLE.

But we could say something like this: Ces garçons sont petits - in this case Ces is an ADJECTIVE and it is modified by the noun garçons, so it agrees in gender and number with it.

Thats it! Hope this was clear enough!

À bientôt!

Source: French.about and French.about Tip 1: Des vs De Tip 2: De vs Des/Un/Du/De la Tip 3: Ce sont or Ces sont


For the listening exercise, I was tempted to answer "Ce sont de bons cygnes" ("these are good swans"). I wonder if it would have been accepted. The pronunciation's identical and it's fine grammatically, so it should be.


An art teacher might say this to a student who has sculpted a nice group of swans as opposed to the student's last effort which produced rather ugly swans. Or, in keeping with the culinary theme, perhaps the swans are made of meringue which can be quite tasty. :)


Theoretically, you are right, signes and cygnes are homophones. However, the match would be well balanced if the adjective were easily valid for both nouns.

  • un petit signe - un petit cygne.


The adjective (bon) is valid for both nouns, isn't it?


I'm wondering what "un bon cygne" would mean...


True, swans are generally evil, so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Perhaps these ones taste particularly nice though.


Yes, swans were widely eaten in the past. More tasty alternatives (easy to catch) replaced them, for sure, but again, I read that the taste was disgusting (to French standards).


Not at all! Swans were widely eaten in Europe until the 17th century, and in Great Britain they were reserved for royalty, so they were evidently very good eating. The most likely reason people stopped eating them is that turkeys were imported from the Americas and turned out to be much more docile and easier to raise. Swans are pretty vicious.


Swans were not good eating, they were stuffed with other game birds, but their plumage made a magnificent centre piece on an aristocratic table.


I've read several modern accounts of swan-eating, and most of them claim it's delicious. You do need to get them fairly young though - older birds are tough and greasy.

Either way, "un bon cygne" is a perfectly clear and understandable phrase, and saner than many I've seen on DL!


Thanks, a laugh really helps me get through this sometimes


I know we French people are known for eating weird things (frog legs?), but I think that the reason why we don't eat swans is because their meat must be tough and/or tasteless.


By the way, they also ate peacocks, to the same effect!


What is the difference between "panneau" and "signe"?


"Signe" is a sign in the general sense, and can correspond to every English meaning of "sign" that I can think of, so it could be a gesture, an omen, etc.

"Panneau" (literally panel) is a physical signpost.


This is what I was looking for. So this phrase could be referring to something that happened that was taken as a sign, and isn't necessarily referring to a rectangular, flat object with symbols on it?


Absolutely! That actually seems the more likely meaning, although obviously it's impossible to tell without context.


I agree, probably "signs of fate" or "hints" or "pieces of evidence" of some sort.


Why is "de" needed here? The hardest part of French is prepositions for me


"de" replaces the plural indefinite article "des" in front of an adjctive:

  • un signe - un bon signe
  • des signes - de bons signes


how would i know if its "ce sont" or "ceux sont"?


Easy: "ceux sont" is improper French.

"These are" = ceux-ci sont


why without "de" impossible? why need "de" here?


Without "de", the French sentence is impossible. The reason why you need "de" is that it is the replacement for "des" in front of a plural adjective.

Please look at the construction, step by step:

  • this is a red sign = c'est un signe rouge = singular
  • these are red signs = ce sont des signes rouges = plural

In French "un" and "une" do have a plural form: "des" is the indefinite article that English does not have.

Now, when the adjective is placed in front of the noun, "des" becomes "de".


Sitesurf, I understand this plural grammar. But I notice in dictionaries that the singular ("good sign") seems to drop the "un": "c'est bon signe". Can you explain this?


It is a fixed phrase and as usual with time and repeated use, some fixed phrases lose their article.

If you say "c'est un bon signe", you point to one specific sign. If you say "c'est bon signe", you mean a more general "it/this looks positive" or "it is a promising prospect".

Another example: "c'est dommage" (it's a pity) might use an article (un) or an adjective (dommageable), but the bare noun is part of the phrase and its meaning is broader than "c'est un dommage" (lit. it is a damage).


When do you used 'ça' over 'ce' because the translation for ce is these are, those are, they are, this, those and these?


You don't use "ça" as a substitute to "ce" with the verb "être": "c'est" and "ce sont" are fixed.

  • ce sont = they are, or these/those are
  • they are = ils/elles sont (except when the next word is a noun) or "ce sont" (when followed by a noun)
  • these are = ceux-ci/celles-ci sont
  • those are = ceux-là/celles-là sont


does this mean signs like -it's a sign she loves me too. or is it more like - a big nike commercial sign in the street a road sign.. or both?


I think that the most probable meaning is that of a "clue/evidence/indication/mark": when the moon is clear at sunset, it's a good sign for the next day's weather.

"It"s a good sign!" = C'est bon signe ! (idiom, no article)


perfect. thanks!!


??? good road signs or good signs she love me?


Road signs would be 'panneaux'. This is the more general meaning of 'signs'.


The audio was so distorted on "signes" that it sounded like "films"

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