"He is a teacher."

Translation:Il est enseignant.

March 31, 2013

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French is a language with many peculiarities and exceptions. Some of these may seem completely ridiculous especially to people who have not studied another language before. But they are part of what makes learning french unique and interesting.

I for one appreciate the insights that sitesurf, george and others continuously provide in these discussions. They clarify things that DL does not bother with and would otherwise be much harder to accept.

It doesn't take much sometimes to discourage a person. So I hope sitesurf continues to share his wisdom, while ignoring the negative comments from immature users like gromov.


It's her, Sitesurf is a girl.


Can't one say 'Il est un enseignant."?


"Il est un + noun" is a no-go

Either "professeur/enseignant" is used like an adjective:

  • Il est professeur / Il est enseignant

Or it remains a noun, but you have to change "il est" to "c'est":

  • C'est un professeur
  • C'est un enseignant


Can you elaborate? I don't quite understand.


Professions (and a few other descriptors like "étudiant") are nouns which can be used like adjectives with "être" (or "devenir" or "rester")

"C'est" (sing.) and "ce sont" (plural) are used instead of "il/elle est" in singular and "ils/elles sont" in plural, whenever a determiner follows the verb.

  • Il est professeur OR c'est un professeur
  • Elle est professeur OR c'est un professeur ("professeur" is used in masculine even for women)
  • Ils sont professeurs OR ce sont des enseignants
  • Elles sont enseignantes OR ce sont des enseignantes.


Very comprehensive answer. Thanks for that.


This is an invaluable review. If only it had been presented as clearly initially in our lesson, I would have understood it immediately, instead of stumbling each time it comes up. If you can add this explanation to the Tips & Notes for the lesson, you will save a lot of time for those new students being introduced to this piece of grammar.


I can no longer touch this course or any of its features. But I wrote a comprehensive chapter for the previous version of the French course and you can find (and download) it here: https://duome.eu/tips/en/zz#z03


So what's the difference between enseignant and professeur in French


"enseignant" is the global teaching profession, from kindergarten to university.

"professeur" starts at collège (kids 11 to 15) up to university.


Ah! You are just a wealth of information. I feel like I am not only learning a language but feel like a voyeur who can catch glimpses of the French psyche. It adds depth to the language. Lovely!



In the previous quiz, I had found you explained about these differences--einseignant, proffesseur, etc--including the institutions. However, I still don't understand the educational system in France.

So, we need 5 years to accomplish junior/senior high school in France? If I may share some informations, in Asia (e.g: Japan Indonesia), we usually take 3 years for junior high school + more 3 years for senior high school, then we continue our studying to a (diploma) college or an university. Please explain us slightly about France's educational system.

Mille grazie oops... Merci =p


Junior highschool is called "le collège". Students are aged 12 to 15. It is organised in 4 grades: sixième, cinquième, quatrième and troisième. At the end of this period, "collégiens" pass the "brevet des collèges".

Hishschool is called "le lycée". "Lycéens" are aged 16 to 18, from seconde, première and terminale grades. The conclusion of that period is the "baccalauréat", allowing "bacheliers" to go to university or "grandes écoles" or "écoles spécialisées". To join the latter two, you generally need a couple of years of "préparation aux grandes écoles" (abbreviated to "prépa") and to pass an entrance exam (un concours).


Any English native speakers? Does professor only exists in college or also in high school?

[deactivated user]

    A professor is the level achieved after entering a professorship which is above a doctorate (achieved by completing a PhD and awards the title of doctor). We would mostly describe someone who teaches at university or college as a lecturer, here in the UK at least, though most will be doctors or professors at unis and untitled (mr/ms) in college


    Only in college/university


    In America, at least, "professor" is ONLY applied to someone who is doctored in their field (PhD) and has climbed the ranks through enough academic publishing to go from 1. associate professor --> 2. assistant professor --> 3. professor (full/tenured). To call anyone else "professor" is almost offensive to those who haven't spent so much of their lives doing academic research.


    You are mixing up 1 and 2. Assistant professor goes first. Then you become associate professor. Then full professor.


    He is a teacher- C'est un enseignant C'est un professeur (Accepted answer)

    She is a teacher- C'est un enseingnante (Accepted answer)

    How does that work?


    What's wrong with 'il est un prof' cant 'prof' be a teacher


    "prof" is not proper French. You have to use "professeur".

    When you state someone's profession with the verb "être", the article is dropped: il est professeur.


    I had the same question sitesurf. Great answer but sometimes duo will accept "prof" and other times he doesnt accept it. Not consistent it seems


    To be frank with you, I don't know why Duolingo is teaching you "prof" since it is informal and there is no equivalent in English. However, translating "teacher" to "professeur" or "enseignant(e)" is 100% safe.


    'Prof' is also used as a short form in English.


    Can someone explain how 'teacher' can be used as an adjective. I'm sure I'm overlooking something quite simple, but it just isn't making sense to me so far. I think it helps to have an understanding of all of these rules, if I am to remember them all. Merci.


    In English, you can use nouns like adjectives, like "a kitchen knife", where "kitchen" is used as an adjective, placed in front of "knife" to qualify it.

    In French, you can use nouns like adjectives as well, like "il est professeur", where "professeur" is used like an adjective, without an article, to qualify the subject "il" via verb "être".


    I was taught at school that "il est un professeur" is correct


    Sorry, it is not.

    "Il est professeur"

    "Il est professeur de littérature"

    "C'est un professeur (de littérature)".


    I'm confused. In another lesson (Flirting), "C'est Prince Charmant!" translated to "He is Prince Charming!" So why is it that when I chose "C'est enseignant," it didn't work the same way here? Is there a grammatical difference that I'm missing?


    In Flirting, "C'est le prince charmant" does have an article. Note that "charmant" is a regular adjective and not his name. The English translation should be "the charming prince", but early translators decided otherwise.

    The rule for professions is different.

    When you give someone's profession with a state verb (être, devenir, rester), the profession becomes an adjective, and as such, it does not have an article:

    • He is a teacher = Il est professeur.

    However, there is an alternative with "c'est + un/une" where the profession remains a noun with its article and this is automatic if the profession is further qualified:

    • He/this/that is a teacher = c'est un professeur.
    • He is a respected teacher = c'est un professeur respecté (il est un professeur respecté is incorrect).

    • 1565

    Neither il or enseignant were available to choose


    You could probably compose another correct translation like: c'est un professeur.

    If you can't find the words you want, please use the keyboard feature (online).

    • 1565

    I did use c’est un professeur but it was not accepted.


    Yet, this is an accepted translation.


    Why is "c' est un enseignante" wrong? Duo insists on professor. August 2018


    Because 'enseignante' is feminine but 'un' is masculine. You have to use 'un enseignant' or 'une enseignante'


    The masculine "enseignant" was not given in the list of words. The feminine "enseignante" was given, so, "He is a teacher" would be "C'est un professeur".


    For your info:

    Officially (according to the Académie Française), "un professeur" can be a man or a woman

    As a consequence "she is a teacher" can also translate to "c'est un professeur".


    Thank you, once again, Sitesurf, for all your help.


    I put il est professeur and got it wrong!


    I think I understand it now. Professions can be considered as a way of describing someone so they can be thought as ana adjective. Just like in English, in french you would not use a word for 'a". Eg. 'He is handsome' not 'He is a handsome' So as french nouns always need an article to use it as a noun in french you must change the structure to 'C'est un profesor ' or 'This/That is a professor.


    Appologies for spelling mistakes. I cannot edit from phone.


    I picked "C'est un enseignant." It told me it was wrong; the correct translation was "Il est enseignant."


    l'homme est très drôle. Il change mes phrases tout le temps. C'est ca


    What's the difference between enseignant and professeur

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