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  5. "Elle ferme."

"Elle ferme."

Translation:It is closing.

March 28, 2013

95 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NikkiFlower

why wouldn't it be translated to she closes


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pythonenfrancais

Could a native speaker enlighten us as to why the phrase is "Elle ferme" as opposed to "Il ferme"? Thank you!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

I would say "why not?" since "it" can translate to "il" or "elle".

(le musée) il ferme le mardi

(la bibliothèque) elle ferme à 19 heures.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pythonenfrancais

So when there is no context, it's ok to use either gender? We aren't suppose to default to one over the other?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Grammatically, yes, you can translate "it" to "il" or "elle".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lynettemcw

Yes. Duo is trying to teach you to distinguish between when the context given is sufficient to make the "correct" choice and when it isn't. Learning to "default" to one or the other will tend to make you hear the sentence incorrectly as a beginner if the context is more remote from the sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fairylynxx

I'm not a native speaker, but I can answer this question because I was confused about the same thing and then I eventually figured it out. When you are referring to a masculine noun, you use 'il', but since this is referring to a feminine noun, you use 'elle'. Hope this helps! :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/viheleha

Except for the specific cases when you use C'est


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

« C'est » means "He/she/it is" and is used when it is followed by « un[e] », « ma », « mon », etc. This rule is only when the verb is « est ». Otherwise, "he/it" - « il », "she/it" - « elle ».


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

To answer your question, "she closes" would usually need an object, in English, since the "she" would most likely refer to a human female, and she would generally have to close something, such as the door.

"It closes", on the other hand, makes sense intransitively (i.e. without an object).

However, currently "she closes" is accepted by Duo. It was, just now, for me, but I think it's a less appropriate answer.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/woodswake

I agree; I would think that the 'it' meaning would only apply to 'il', seeing as masculine is the 'default' in French and many other languages. Could a French speaker or someone more educated correct me on this if I'm wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SonOfNenji

I would assume it was (at least) for cases where something has a gender, yet can still be (or is) called an 'It'.

For example: a cow.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

See sitesurf's comment. If you are talking about le musée, "Elle ferme" is incorrect. If you are talking about la bibliothèque, "Il ferme" is incorrect. In real life, context will tell you which of "il" or "elle" you should use.

  • Le musée, il ferme
  • La bibliothèque, elle ferme

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Carperpes

It let me translate it to she closes


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aidan20005

it is accepted as of 5/31/2016


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OOGSTER.

That's what I wrote NikkiFlower, I wrote "she closes" it said it was correct and another correct translation was "it closes" My question is it closes what?? Its an incomplete sentence aka a sentence fragment but I guess DUO wanted us to learn that so...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

An example might help.

"Elle" could represent "la porte". Of course, since a door is an object, in English we would call it "it", and "it closes" could be the equivalent of "the door closes".

In other words, this is a verb that can take an object or not, depending on the context.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

Another example is a shop. "What time does it close?" "It shuts at 5:00".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

Indeed, "la boutique". Anything gramatically feminine in French that was capable of closing would do.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/effyleven

It does translate to "she closes." It seems French does transmit some imprecise ideas, with strictly prescribed language. Très français.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Christopherm01

Dang it, I thought she was hungry...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bvogel1

I thought she was a farmer.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

she is a farmer = c'est une fermière


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IdalecioJunior

Or "c'est une agricultrice"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WackyAnne

That was the first thing I thought of as well. However, I have learned that the translation of the verb "farming" is "cultiver". Which would make sense as "fermer" is taken by "closing". ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sallywigmore

Google translates she farms, as elle ferme also, so we were not too far out!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sallywigmore

I answered 'she farms' and it was marked wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dad.EWR

Surely fermer is to close or to shut. So she shuts, she closes, it shuts, it closes are all acceptable. With no context all you can do it translate the simple conjugation not imply that we're talking about a shop of shopkeeper etc?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cynthetik

I had the same answer. In the majority of English speaking countries shut is more common than closes and they are synonyms, so both should be accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

My sense is that "she shuts", intransitive, is of more limited use, though I wouldn't rule it out. I do think the "simple conjugation" argument is valid enough, but so is the counterargument that a sentence here should have a measure of acceptability as a sentence on its own. (That said, I can imagine contexts where "she shuts", intransitive, seems okay to me personally, but they're all to do with situations I would take to be exceedingly uncommon.)

As for "shut" versus "close", they are indeed synonymous and their use is largely overlapping, but I think it's still somewhat context-dependent. For example, personally I wouldn't call up a store and ask "what time do you shut" (metonymic intransitive). Others might, and I'm not saying it's wrong, only that we make contextual choices between these two verbs.*

As for your statistic, I hope you'll forgive me if I'm skeptical without a reference. Indeed, if you enter "shut_VERB_INF,close_VERB_INF" into Google's Ngram Viewer, you'll see a much different picture from what you suggest:

In fact, recognizing that the frequency of "shut_VERB" is equivalent to the combined frequency of "close_VERB" and "closed_VERB" together, you'll see that "shut" really had its heyday before about 1800, at least in the millions of books catalogued by Google.

You'll see an even bigger gap with "shut_ADJ,closed_ADJ" (again in favor of "closed").


* I'm just stating a personal preference about the metonymic intransitive use of "shut" in relation to shops/stores, but here are some observations from my vantage point:

Searches at Google.com and Google.ca:

  • "what time do you close": 86,800 results
  • "what time do you close down": 8 results (which number can be eliminated from the number above as irrelevant)
  • "what time do you shut": 40 results (39 at Google.ca)
  • "what time do you shut down": 8 results (12 at Google.ca)

Searches at Google.com.au, Google.co.uk, Google.com.hk, Google.ie, Google.co.za, Google.co.in, Google.com.mx, and Google.ru:

  • "what time do you close": 86,800 results
  • "what time do you close down": 7 results (6 at Google.com.mx)
  • "what time do you shut": 10,500 results
  • "what time do you shut down": 8,090 results

There seems to be a Google US-and-Canada versus Google rest-of-the-world division in the results Google gives me (with only the minor variations noted). The majority of the world's native English speakers (about 69.6%) are North American, but giving the rest of the world the benefit of the doubt, let's look only at those results. Eliminating the 8,090 "shut down" hits from the 10,500 "shut" hits, we get 2,410, so we can posit a relative frequency, à la Google, of "what time do you shut", metonymic intransitive, of about three percent as compared to "what time do you close" (whose numbers are 86,800 minus 7). This doesn't catch all the variables, as other things can come after "close" or "shut", but it gives some idea of orders of magnitude.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

It's not a problem in Australia to use either "shut" or "close" for a shop but I understand that other countries have different usages where one or the other might sound strange.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

Lest I be misunderstood to have made a blanket statement with respect to shops, let me clarify that my more nuanced and personal observations were in reference to specific collocations and their transitive, intransitive, and potential metonymic contexts. Whether "shut" can go with "shop" in general is not what I was getting at. I only meant to give a personal example of how the two verbs don't necessarily cover exactly the same territory among English speakers, and how personally I don't like the intransitive metonymic "you shut" in relation to shops. (In response to your posts on my profile feed, I've since added some statistics. Take them for what you will.) There are undoubtedly other examples that are clearer, but it's not really necessary to canvass them all to make the point.

In any event, in addition to regional habits, there's also a euphony factor at play with respect to specific collocations, I think. My sense is that, for example, "the shops shut" and "the shops close" will have varying degrees of attractiveness, pronounceability, and acceptability for various speakers, broader regional habits aside (as will "she shuts" versus "she closes", probably). But I don't mean that to be an observation on meaning or possibility. Again in response to your posts on my profile feed, I'm just saying that I personally believe that people pick their words in part based on how they sound. I would suggest that that's not a contentious assertion, and your comment above supports it, though I'm not making a regionalist argument, I'm talking about individual choices.

As for my point about unnuanced generalizations based on made-up statistics, I think it's quite clear how I feel about them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deyan161

Why is "shuts" not accepted as a translation here? In a sentence fragment like this, shuts/closes are pretty well interchangeable in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

It should be and if it's not already, I'm surprised and it should be reported.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"shuts" is accepted with "it", not with "she".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deyan161

Pourquoi pas? Is this something to do with American usage?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joel-Iowan

Hmmm.. how would 'Elles ferment' sound like then?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/spesme

It would sound the same. Context would matter when spoken.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/runciblehat

The same, mostly, except if the next word begins with a vowel you might hear the "t" at the end of "ferment."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

No, not at all, even in plural, you won't hear the final T if there is nothing behind "ferment".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/serpientetaca

It supposed the T will be hear if there is something after "ferment" and that starts with vowel. Isn't it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Yes, if you get "elles ferment à 8 heures", you should (on principle) hear a T liaison.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Je_suis_BiDo

How would that sound, though? Because "ferment" sounds the same as "ferme", do I just add a "t" sound, or do I add another syllable or what's the deal?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

el ferm-T-a


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/urbanglo

My confusion as well when the masculine for EVERYTHING else is the default. I'm crying. Tissue please.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

I think you don't need any tissue; "il ferme" is accepted, of course!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Balaur

Is the verb 'fermer' only intransitive, or can it be transitive too?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

It is transitive too: je ferme la porte.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/charnfield

I too would like 'shuts' to be accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

Sitesurf says "shuts" is accepted only if you use "it". This sounds reasonable as "She shuts" would be transitive and would need an object for her to shut.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sean405747

Given this context, I would assume it means some business establishment?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bairnies

I thought of an automatic door, closing on its own.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

That's possible.

Interestingly, in one of the Duolingo French stories, "elle ferme" (or perhaps the subject is the person's name instead of "elle", I can't remember) is used on its own without an (explicit) object to mean "she closes the door" (after someone has just entered). If that's a correct usage, it's certainly different from English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tracidmartin

everything I look up says ferme means farm. fermé means closes. Wouldn't fermé sound like fer-may


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

une ferme (noun) = a farm

fermer (verb) = to close/shut.

fermé (past participle, masculine singular) = closeD

fermé = FER-MEH (no diphthong)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ag3n7_z3r0

I got the exercise where I had to type what I heard, and since "Elle ferme" sounds indistinguishable from "Elles ferment," should I report it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

I don't think it is necessary, since Duo accepts both versions.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnCross1

Since when is elle it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"It" can represent any object, concept or animal.

In French all nouns having a gender "it" can translate to "il" or "elle"


[deactivated user]

    i used il ferme and duolingo said incorrect and used elle ferme


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fairylynxx

    'Elle' can be 'it', but only when referring to a feminine noun. When referring to a masculing noun is when you use 'il'. Hope this helps! :)


    [deactivated user]

      can this also mean "she closes (the door/ book)" etc?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

      You would indeed need the object.

      It closes

      He/She closes the door


      [deactivated user]

        I don't understand the use of elle here when there is nothing else feminine added here. why not il ferme


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

        Remember that "elle" can be any feminine noun, including "une bibliothèque" (library), "une boutique" (shop), "une boulangerie" (bakery)...

        And if you get "it closes" for translation to French, both "il" and "elle" are equally accepted.


        [deactivated user]

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KevinHolt2

          I said she closes it, which is wrong i know. But duo said it was "she closes out" which seems wrong too.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/primevaltho

          i thought it was saying "she farms" how am i wrong?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

          une ferme (noun) = a farm

          But French does not have a verb translating "to farm".

          Verb "fermer" only means to close/shut


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/primevaltho

          Merci beaucoup Danke


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/exemerson

          Why is this verb on ''households'' category?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

          Because this is where you learn verb "fermer" with windows, doors, etc.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tony2105

          ferme is closed; fermeture is closing so why is Elle Ferme not correct as she is closed?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

          "fermé, fermée, fermés, fermées", with an accute accent and pronounced "fermeh" are the possible translations of "closed", as the past participle of the verb "fermer" (to close) or an adjective (closed).

          "ferme", without an accent and pronounced "ferm" is 1st or 3rd person singular present of verb "fermer": je ferme, il ferme, elle ferme, on ferme.

          "une fermeture" is "a closing/lock/closure/fastening"

          "une ferme" is "a farm".


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

          Duo couldn't recognise me saying "Elle ferme" for about ten times in a row (it recognised "Elle" but not "ferme") so, just to be silly, I said "ferme Elle" and it recognised it straight away!


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aussie3931

          If a woman owns a small shop, for example, we would say 'She is closing' when she does so at the end of the day. One comment here (Megzii) indicated that 'She closes' is accepted, so why not my answer 'She is closing'? I understand the other context where 'elle' refers to a feminine noun, but is my answer a possible solution?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

          If she owns un magasin, then « Elle ferme » is unambiguously "She closes"/"She is closing". Otherwise, if she owns une boutique, then « elle » could be referring to either "she" or "it". Did you report your answer?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aussie3931

          Nah. In my experience we get things done more effectively by discussing here. Often a moderator will read our comments and, if our whinges have merit, will make immediate edits to the list of accepted answers. We do not receive such good feedback from the 'report' button. Thanks for your input! Cheers.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/georgeoftruth

          Hi Don. "She is closing" has been accepted for at least two years. It must have been something else that caused DL to not accept your sentence.

          (P.S. This is one of those rare times when I cleared reports and checked the discussion for curiosity. Reporting still helps, but we can't respond to them.)


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aussie3931

          Thanks George. If I encounter this sentence again I will try 'She is closing' again. I can't imagine what else could have triggered DL to reject my suggested translation. Good to know though, that it is accepted....in theory. :-)


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

          For what it's worth, this is the whole list of accepted translation with "she" as a subject (last edition: 2 years ago):

          She [is closing up/closes up/closes off/is closing off/closes out/is closing out/closes down/is closing down/is closing/closes].


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aussie3931

          Thanks Sitesurf. (Have to reply to myself because there is no reply button on your comment). I certainly believe that my answer is on the list. Nevertheless, it was rejected.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sally969926

          I wrote she closes and was marked incorrect, even though when I went back and checked 'closes' was one of the listed options.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aussie3931

          Hi Sally. According to Sitesurf's post on this page your answer should be accepted. Five months ago, my answer 'She is closing' was also rejected, but as you will see by other comments, that too should have been accepted. I think there must be a hidden bug somewhere. You probably noticed that the answer given at the top of this page is 'It closes'.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

          "It closes" works, but "She closes" needs a direct object: "She closes the shop", "She closes the window", etc.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

          I thought it had been agreed earlier that "she closes" is okay without an object at least in reference to people with shops or similar establishments (as long as this is also possible in French with "elle ferme").

          • A: Get this to her before eight.
          • B: What happens at eight?
          • A: She closes.

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJ.Dennis

          Ah, yes! I needed to scroll up further. It still has a direct object, except it's implied when not used.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

          I would actually say "she" becomes a metonymic substitute for her shop, so there's no implied object, but that might be where some people lose me.

          An earlier question was whether "shuts" was similarly versatile as "closes", and should also be recommended in this particular metonymic intransitive context, i.e. with "she". I suggested it wasn't as good, in my opinion, though it's fine when used intransitively with "it" for doors and such, and also when used transitively (and even when the object is "shop" – it was only the metonymic intransitive context that I myself questioned). I admit, though, that these nuances as between "shut" and "close" might not be entirely clear to everyone, nor the distinctions worth maintaining for a simple exercise like the one at hand.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HvYHkGOO

          I I thought of a woman closing her shop.Is it open ? No,she is closing . It was accepted 9/07/17 But I still wondered how it was used in french and so came to the discussion ...glad I did .Realised hear Elle meant a place which was closing .Keep forgetting that il/Elle can mean things not just people .


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gamurbansk

          I thought the French deferred to the male gender when it is ambiguous


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

          The subject here is of unambiguously feminine gender. Again, see Sitesurf's comment:


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CH_lang

          Elle ferme? Quoi? La porte?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdrianoBlo

          Following discussions below, "she closes" has just been marked wrong and "it closes" has been given as the right answer. My assumption is that "fermer" is generally a transitive verb, so if she (or indeed he) is the subject then it requires an object. If "fermer" is being used intransitively, as is the case here, it can only mean "it". Anyone know if this is a reasonable explanation?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

          It's reasonable, but "she closes" used to be accepted, presumably on the rationale (in my view) that "she" can be a metonymic stand-in for her shop, so, for example, we could say "she closes at eight", which actually means that her shop closes at eight (or that she closes her shop at eight, which amounts to the same thing).

          For this to work as a translation, it would also have to be a legitimate interpretation of the French, i.e. that "elle" is "she", the shop owner or worker, and that "she" is understood as a stand-in for "her shop" ("son magasin").

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