"Never?" Really? Sure, we English-speakers would. There are several examples: For instance, "I'd keep your distance, they're eating onion and i know how much you hate the smell." Just like some find garlic offensive. "They're eating garlic." "No, I think they're eating pizza." Or would you insist we all must say, "a pizza?" "They are eating onion, again? "Yeah, onion pizza." Certainly, you could say, "Yeah, an onion pizza." but you don't have to. So "never" is way off.
JTea is partly right. His example are pretty good but they still sounded a bit clumsy. Better would be to say "They are eating onions". It needs to be pluralised because otherwise it is confusing and we think that a group of people is eating one onion simultaneously. Even if it is one onion chopped up and fed to 20 people, it makes more sense to pluralise.
Partly? Not to an educated ear. None of these is 'clumsy': "They are eating bread" "They are eating cheese" "They are eating pizza" "They are eating steak" "They are eating fish" "They are eating cake" "They are eating rice" "They are eating pâte" "They are eating guacamole" "They are eating chocolate" "They are eating ice cream" "They are eating onion" None of them needs to have an 's' added to the end to make perfect sense. Indeed, it would change the intended meanings to add an 's.' So, I'm not sure why this is causing such concern and "sounds clumsy" to anyone's ear - It's perfect English. And why haven't you considered that they could all be eating one onion "an onion" chopped up and served to all of them, as this is very commonplace? Cutting an onion into several small pieces doesn't change the one onion into several onions. It's still only one onion being eaten by several people, how much onion do you need? :)
Mortiferous, what you and some others are obviously missing is that no one usually chops up little things like "raspberries, peas, and lentils" into smaller pieces and serves them as a garnish like, for instance, parsley. No one would say they are eating parsleys, as you seem to suggest an "s" is necessary as with onion, unless they were referring to various varieties of parsley. "Peas, lentils and raspberries" are already small, so one would simply serve a bowl of raspberries. Rarely are they chopped up because they are already so delicate and elegant served as they are. If they were, then they would be referred to as as another name like raspberry sauce or jam. In this case, however, with onion once it is chopped up into several tiny pieces like "lentils, peas and raspberries," it becomes an uncountable much like rice is uncountable. So in keeping with proper English, one would have no problem serving a bowl of onion, a bowl of raspberries or a bowl of raspberry sauce. Therefore, the Duolingo translation, in this particular case, is indeed acceptable and correct.
This is what he said,
Hi Cesar, Most people will say "They are eating onions" or "They are eating an onion." If you are referring to onion as an ingredient, we may say, "Could you add onion to my pizza?" or "Could you add onions to my pizza?"
So MOST people would think you boys are silly. Happy? Jeez.
I'm having a serious problem identifying some singular and plural, mainly when thera are no difference in the pronunciation of the verb. I'm Brazililan, my mother tounge is portuguese, and the explanations on pronunciations come with comparison with the English language, which I know, but still can't differ. For instance. Le fille X Les filles mange X mangent; il X Ils. Besides the explanations, It would help to have in the same page this comparisons so that we could clik in one and the other as much as possible in order to differ them.
As shlyovich points out above, listen to the articles. They are quite distinctive.
Also listen for the last letter in verbs (subtle as they are) as they often will tell you what spelling to use.
Arranging and clicking on different spellings of words is available on Google Translate. Google's translations can be weird but their pronunciation of common words is good enough to be useful.
de le --> du ("de la" does not get contracted); but because oignon starts with a vowel, it's "l'oignon" and the rule is that that this form does not get contracted to "du". It took me a long time to get to grips with this - as duolingo appears to moving to providing more direct explanations, in future these may help.
de = of ...usually
de le = of the ...usually translated as some in English
l'oignon = le oignon (in contracted form) = the onion
de l'oignon = de le oignon (in contracted form) = of the onion = some onion, in English.
The use of some is optional in English but required, whenever it is appropriate, in French.
Turnip watch, originally referred to an unusually large and clunky pocket watch. Sometimes used now to refer to a big, complicated wrist watch.
The term has fallen into disuse because of the likelihood that modern, large wrist watches will have many desirable features some of which come from advanced technology.
Please get over it. Nouns in many languages have plurals and who cares if what they are eating is an onion, part or whole? I am trying to understand a language here, and my question is, how do I tell the difference between singular and plural as I am listening to " Ils mangent" and "Il mange?"
Context! Pronouns refer back to proper nouns, so a proper noun should appear first in conversation in order to be referred back to - So, in this case you cannot, simply in spoken form, without hearing the rest or comprehending who the sentence is about. It's a snippet, simply to learn a simple phrase in the language. At least, that's my understanding.
Hi! I am just starting to learn french and I find the "De" here confusing. I read through the discussion and saw that it is used for uncountable things. That kinda brought up a few questions. I hope someone can help me with it. 1) Is de l'oignon only applicable for Ils and Elles (They) or is it right to say eg: Il mange de l'oignon or Vous mangez de l'oignon etc. 2) Taking the first context that "De" is used for unaccountable things, would it be right to say eg: Ils mangent de la pomme or Elles mangent de la orange. Wouldn't apple and orange be uncountable also. If this is not right, what other things is deemed as uncountable in French? 3) Suppose I want to say, They are eating onion soup, would that be written as "Ils mangent de l'oignon soupe" or "Ils mangent soupe de l'oignon". I want to learn how the de gets placed in different sentences. Thanx in advance... Salut!
For most purposes de la/ du (de le)/ des can be taken as meaning some. Whenever you see them in French, you can usually translate it directly into English as some or you can just drop them because some is not usually required to be included in English.
Whenever you see some in English you must use one of the variants, of de la/ du/ des, in the French. If you don't see some in English, but know it should really be there, then again you must include it in the French translation.
In answer to your questions, it depends on the context. If you are eating a particular orange, onion or bowl of soup then you use the definite article le/ la/ les. If you are eating an unspecified quantity or unit, that is to say, some then use de la/ du/ des.
I am from Southern CA and saying "They are eating onion" sounds awfully weird to me. It may just be my area that speaks it the way I do but frankly, Hollywood has made it so that the way people speak English in my area became common in other places of the country. It could be a bastardization the area has that normalized it elsewhere but it's still a very odd choice of words.
The language is always changing anyway. If more people stop saying "They are eating onion," then that phrase would become obsolete no matter what some people want to do about it.
Would you ever say, 'ils mangent oignon' ? (without de le) One possible translation they give for 'ils mangent de l'oignon' is 'they eat onion.' I'm confused how it could be translated that way with the 'de le' in the sentence.
If you wanted to describe a couple's diet, and you wanted to say that they eat onion (in general not specifically at this moment), could you say 'Ils mangent oignion,' or does it need the de le? When do we use de le and when do we not?
You would have to use de le in this case too. In french most nouns don't stand alone without an article of some kind. Don't think of it as English. Although it would read de le = some of the, realise that some of the also means an indefinite amount. Which is the same as just saying onion in English. If you wanted to say eating the onion = mangent l'oignon if you wanted to say eating some onion = mangent de l'oignon if you wanted to say eating onion = mangent de l'oignon