"Ils écrivent des lettres."

Translation:They are writing letters.

March 29, 2013



When you listen to the full phrase she says "Ils" but when you go turtle mode she says "Il". Is it just me?

January 21, 2014


The full phrase is pronounced with liaisons ils-Z-écrivent, but the turtle mode enunciates words one after another in isolation, therefore there is no liaison.

January 22, 2014


"turtle mode" I love you xD <3

July 15, 2014


new favorite phrase

September 27, 2017


That's the first time I've heard anyone say the phrase 'turtle mode'!

August 20, 2014


Me too! :-)

May 28, 2015


me three

September 8, 2016


Moi aussi

July 23, 2017


me five

March 31, 2018


No, I have difficulty with the difference between 'he' and 'they' when I listen on my laptop.

April 17, 2015


The 's' pronounced because the following word begins with a vowel.

August 21, 2015


XD "turtle mode" #turtle_mode

December 13, 2016


Hello to Everyone! Can anybody explain me next thing: I am a bit confused :-(

In Russian we have two different words which in English and, as I understand, French have only one word - LETTER:

  • a part of written word - for example "word" consist of 4 letters/lettres - "БУКВА"

  • a paper with text on it - letter/lettre - "ПИСЬМО"

How can I understand, what exactly means "we read letters" / "nous lisons des lettres" - do we read letters (printed emails, for example) OR we are kids and learning to read words by letters?

Excuse me for possible mistakes.

March 29, 2013


No mistake, the English and the French languages also use letter/lettre with these distinct meanings. Therefore the above sentence can mean either of the two, in the absence of a context.

March 29, 2013


I just read earlier that 'des' is de les, which is 'the'. So why is 'the letters' wrong here

February 14, 2014


"des" can be 2 distinct articles:

1) indefinite article, plural of un/une: une lettre -> des lettres

2) contracted definite article, made of preposition "de" + definite article "les" = of the: la couleur de la lettre -> la couleur des lettres.

February 14, 2014


why not elles?

July 7, 2013


the subject could be "elles".

July 8, 2013


I think the same. And duolingo should permit to write "elles" instead of "ils"..

August 16, 2013


Why is it that the s in Ils ecrivent isnt carried on to make secrive when pronouncing it? Like the vous etes.

August 7, 2014


How can you distinguish b/w il and ils, used google translate but shows that they are same

September 17, 2014


il écrit = eel ekree

ils écrivent = eel Z-ekriV

September 17, 2014


can this not also be " they write letters" ? or is it because the letters do not belong to anyone that des means some..

October 14, 2014


"Ils écrivent des lettres" translates to either

They write/are writing of the letters

They write/are writing some letters

February 3, 2015


I wrote the same as you and my answer was right

May 31, 2015


i wondered why it can't be les lettres(the letters) but des??

June 21, 2014


ils/elles écrivent les lettres = they write/are writing the letters (specific letters = definite article)

ils/elles écrivent des lettres = they write/are writing (some) letters (an undefined quantity of letters, more than one letter)

June 23, 2014


"Les", as you say, would be directly translated to "The letters", while "des" has no direct English translation - it is just a plural of un/une, and to make a plural of letter you must say des lettres not just lettres.

February 3, 2015


I answered 'They write the letters' why is it wrong?

January 14, 2016



"They write the letters" would be "Ils écrivent les lettres".

In this case we are given "des" lettres. Which translates as "They write some letters" or simply "They write letters".

January 14, 2016


I answered "They write letters" and it was marked wrong

September 11, 2018


I think because "des" is indefinite article, like un/une. From the sentence we don't know which letters they are writing, so best english translation is with "some" or with nothing. If we said "Ils écrivent les lettres." we'd be talking about some specific letters and then "the" would be better.

January 14, 2016


They are writing some of the letters.

Why is this wrong??

October 1, 2013


I wrote " they write letters" it was right but they showed me another translation which was" they write some letters" i don't know what's wrong but you might have forgot to write a letter or something , hope that helped you.

May 31, 2015


That's really puzzling. I wrote "They write letters" but I got it wrong. "They write some letters" was the correction given.

March 25, 2018


What you wrote translates to "ils/elles écrivent certaines des lettres"

Here "des" is just the plural article: une lettre, des lettres.

October 2, 2013


Except that the translation given when you mouse over des is "some (of the)" So as this was a new word, I checked and moused over it. Then, typed in what the site had given me as a translation.... and was marked wrong for it. BTW, this also happened with carrottes (carrots vs. a core sample of) and souris (smile vs. mouse). The flash cards in particular are wrong, or use a 3rd/4th meaning of a word that is not being taught.

October 19, 2014


hi, how can i understand when they speak french more? if anyone can help please do, thank you

November 20, 2013


I don't quite understand what you mean, but I think the answer to the question is learn more. It's not a race, it's a learning experience. You should take your time, take as long as you need to learn the language. The more you practice the more you'll be able to understand.

January 2, 2014


Sometimes Duolingo can really be a pain in the ass. It says "Il écrive des lettres" And guess what it expects me to answer: "Ils écrivent des lettres" They really gotta improve on their voice listening questions. Not the first question I'm annoyed with.

February 9, 2015


Listen carefully:

singular: il écrit = eel-ekree

plural: ils écrivent = eel-Z-ekreeV

conjugation of verb "écrire": j'écris, tu écris, il/elle/on écrit, nous écrivons, vous écrivez, ils/elles écrivent

February 10, 2015


Thanks so much for the phonetics Sitesurf. Would you mind doing it for "écrivons"? I think I was confusing the sound of "écrivent" and that.

March 21, 2015


I'm afraid I can't because "on" in "écrivons" is a nasal sound which does not exist in English. What you can do is to mimic it with the help of forvo.com or Google Translate or acapela-group, that are all good with pronunciation.

March 21, 2015


I tried that, and now the difference - and which is which - is clear to me. Thanks for those sites, and your quick response! Merci beaucoup!

March 21, 2015


When I was taking French back in school, my teacher always made sure to tell us the differences between pronouncing each conjugation. Like ecrivent being pronounced ehcree-vahn(t), not just the same as ecrit etc. After three years I know the difference is very subtle, but the enunciation of the robot lady sounds identical to each other form.

February 20, 2015


So I guess "des" means some?

June 21, 2015


Yes, or it could mean "of the". It all depends on context. HTH!

June 22, 2015


"des" is an article that does not exist in English: it is the plural of "un/une".

singular = une lettre = a/one letter

plural = des lettres = (more than one) letters

September 2, 2015


Why can you not use the word literature when translating for "lettres" ? It says it means the same thing on the drop-down definition. Somebody please help!

September 14, 2015


Context is not about literature, but about someone writing a letter: either a note to be sent through the mail or a series of alphabet signs.

September 15, 2015



September 8, 2016


I think 'they write letters ' is also the answer.

November 7, 2015


To a French speaker, its They write some letters. But almost always to us we hear the past tense so much when the word "some" is added. Its so rarely present tense

November 17, 2015


As far as I understand, French uses the plural form "ils" when using "masculine words" and "elles" for "feminine words". Can someone please explain which is the right one to use when talking about multiple people, both males and females? E.g. a boy and the girl reading a book: ils lisent or elles lisent?

December 2, 2015


Mixed groups are masculine by default. 999,999 women and 1 man together are referred to as "ils".

December 2, 2015


why is elles ecrivent des lettres not correct

May 20, 2016


Could I have used : Ils ecrivent DU lettres. ?

May 29, 2016


Why is that "they" and not "he"?

June 15, 2016


geuss what i submited an awser and they did not taake it

December 2, 2016


y so many letters????????

December 13, 2016


When do you know if "Il" is meaning "he" or when it's meaning "they" because doesn't "Il" also mean "he?"

March 26, 2017


il = he; ils = they

April 17, 2017


I don't understand if I'm supposed to repeat the phrase back in French, or just say the translation in English when the microphone comes up.

May 23, 2017


why do you ake the right ansers the wrong ones

June 8, 2017


I accidently pressed the button and then it heard the thing and I got it right!

June 26, 2017


how can I do it with out a mic

September 22, 2017


this doesn't sound at all like it's supposed to, we need an actual recorded human voice on these

September 27, 2017


Why it can't be "They write letters"? that itself meaning that they write some letters

March 7, 2018


I wrote "They write letters" but got that wrong. Please explain why. Thanks.

March 25, 2018


Un missing correct answer in the list of possible answers.
I'm sure they'll correct it soon. And if you reported the issue, you'll receive an email saying it's now accepted.

March 27, 2018


It marked me wrong because I left the s off letters. One tiny typo. Grrr

April 10, 2018


It's just i don't know if there is 'some' as 'des' or not...

April 30, 2018


Hi all, general question about ils and elles.. would ils be used to refer to 'they' being a group of people, boys and/or girls while elles is 'they' just for girls?

Sorry if it's a silly question, I think of these things and I always forget to ask.

July 19, 2018


definite difference between normal and turtle mode. normal elides to bring in the il"s" and the ecri"v"ent but turtle mode leaves them out and can be easily thought to be "il ecrit".

July 28, 2018
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