"This is a simple hat."
Translation:C'est un chapeau simple.
But that's how Duo works. Right from the first lesson they present words you don't know. Every word is new the first time around. They present the word with a drop down option for students to find the meaning. Then they test you on it. After testing you they repeat it later in the lesson and subsequent lessons in the same or different forms.
It's called spaced repetition testing. It's the most effective teaching method there is. The frustration for students in learning a foreign language is that some words in their pronunciation, appearance or their usage seem so ....well....foreign. A word or phrase will have a meaning that seems so disconnected from what is expected that it almost seems like cheating. The response is ....how could I know that.... As if you should have known the meaning of je suis the first time you saw it.
It's not a bug in the system. It's the whole point of Duo.
That frustration you feel is called learning as opposed to simply memorizing.
Except there is no drop down menu when given multiple choices. If someone hasn't gotten the word before that gives them that option, then they get the question wrong. I can see your point, but frustration is ... well ... frustrating ... when we've been penalized for not knowing something on which we're getting tested, when it wasn't taught in the first place
Getting a new word in multiple choice is pretty frustrating. Especially if it is a little tricky like maybe the first time you are exposed to a different tense or the meaning doesn't translate directly to English in the context given. You know, you check out the new word in a dictionary but the context produces a usage not in the dictionary.
Really, how could you know that? But then, think of all the easy ones.
You got the "choose all the correct translations" version, didn't you? If you see "...un étrange chapeau " (an odd hat) or "...un chapeau sombre" (a dark hat), are you still concerned about what "ceci" means? Neither of those mean "...a simple hat". Not knowing what a word means does not compel us to guess. It compels us to learn.
That is precisely what I was going to say. I don't mind getting something wrong as long as I learn from it. And I do find that I remember better when I am blindsided. I forget who it is who reminded me that this is how babies learn languages. They don't get a study manual in advance, but rather they get some words explained while others they learn through trial and error. So it is with DL. Some words we will learn by getting them wrong the first time.
If you lose all your hearts by the time you finish a lesson, I find doing a practice exercise helps reinforce the mastery of the new material.
We don't have any context here to give any hint on the nuance between "un simple chapeau" and "un chapeau simple", both of which being correct.
- "isn't this a black cat, over there?" = "n'est-ce pas un chat noir, là-bas ?"
"no, this is a simple hat" = "non, c'est un simple chapeau". (=> it is only/merely a hat).
"is your embroidered silk hat?" = "est-ce ton chapeau en soie brodée ?"
- "no, this is a simple hat" = "non, c'est un chapeau simple" (=> it is not sophisticated)
"It is a simple hat" can also indeed mean "it is a mere hat" and does not have to be rewritten with the adverb "simply" in order to convey that meaning. The word simple has many meanings and one is "apart from anything else, without additions or modifications"
Beauty, Age, Number, Goodness (and badness), Size is a guideline that helps. Adjectives that fall into these groupings usually go in front.
The B.A.N.G.S. practice allows you to quickly categorize adjectives as to their placement. It is just a helpful device that has plenty of exceptions because it does not cover the many rules that govern proper placement. This has the unfortunate consequence of encouraging the belief that positioning is rather arbitrary, where placement actually is part of communicating meaning and intent. Relying strictly on B.A.N.G.S. will reduce your ability to capture the full meaning of those uses.
The best way to get an understanding of adjective placement and other issues is through reading the comments pages attached to each Duo exercise. That is how Duo works.
It depends on what your intended meaning for simple is.
If you want simple to refer an inherent quality of the hat in some subjective, figurative way, that would fall under Goodness/badness and place it in front. EG: it is a simple/mere hat.
If you wanted to classify it in some literal, objective way, that would place it after the noun. EG: It is a simple hat (that is free of decorations, striking colors etc.)
As you can see, you need context. The statement it is a simple hat does not give enough context to provide a guideline.
@northernguy and sitesurf. The English sentence is neither ambiguous nor complicated. The English adjective 'simple' has a clear meaning: uncompounded, elementary, not complex. In the given English sentence, 'simple is not an adverb. Proper translation must adhere to the single possible English meaning. It must not get involved in the irrelevant French word order placement.
This is a simple car. Of course, it is anything but a simple device.
The first part of that line is classifying the car into the particular simple category of cars compared to other categories of cars.
The last part of the line refers to the inherent feature of a car which is that it is a very complicated thing to build, own, operate and maintain. Therefore, by its very nature it is not simple. The inherent qualities of the device are not simple.
English speakers routinely leave it up to the listener/reader to figure which meaning is intended. They do that because most of the time they don't consider the difference important enough to devote attention to it. If the reader/listener is concerned they can just ask for clarification. French speakers do otherwise. Many times they use position of adjectives to convey meaning.
You are correct. English speaker/writers do not routinely distinguish between the possible uses of adjectives like simple. That does not mean there is no difference to be had.
French speakers can present that difference easily. English speakers can not do so as easily. In fact, many English speakers do not even see the difference because of the way adjectives are used in their language.
Some French adjectives, by their nature, will always appear in front of the noun. Some French adjectives will always be placed after the noun. Some few French adjectives can be placed in front or after the noun. Sitesurf says that only about ten percent of French adjectives are normally able to be in either position.
The issue for students here is that whatever English speakers think about a particular adjective, French speakers have conventions about how they are used. They do so even if those conventions draw attention to uses that some English speakers do not themselves employ.
@northernguy (and sitesurf.) NG, your argument raises several interesting ideas but misses the important point.. The sentence in question concerns 'a simple hat.' It has nothing to do with the complexity or not of automotive vehicles. Your first three paragraphs are thus irrelevant (NG, in American English those paragraphs are properly characterized as a 'red herring,' i.e. sophistry.)
Your fourth paragraph indicates you did not understand what I wrote. A native English speaker, as I am, knows that there is only a single meaning to the English sentence, 'This is a simple hat.' You mistakenly imply multiple meanings in your 4th paragraph. In fact, In English the sentence can never mean 'This is only a hat'' ('C'est un simple chapeau'") because you've changed the adectivej. simple to the adverb only, (Only can function as either an adverb or an adjective.)
The point you may have missed is an important principle: When translating from English to French, the English meaning must be preserved! Going in the other direction, the French meaning must similarly be maintained. In other words, the content/meaning of the primary language must be reflected in the secondary language.for an adequate translation. The essential English meaning must therefore conform to the proper word order in French that preserves the meaning.. I am puzzled that excellent bilingual French speakers (perhaps you?) confuse English meaning with French word order.
I believe your last paragraph is misguided. In translation, meaning is paramount. French word order conventions are important only when they accurately convey the Engish meaning.
Fun debating with you. Pete
pronoun "ce" is only used with verb "être": "c'est" or "ce sont", more rarely with verb "pouvoir": "ce peut".
"ce" is more often an adjective (= this/that) in front of a masculine noun starting with a consonant: "ce chien"
"ceci" is a pronoun (replacing a noun, like "this thing") that you can use as a noun, ie as subject or object: "ceci est un chapeau" (this is a hat)or "je veux acheter ceci" (I want to buy this).
In this sentence, with verb être, you have a choice: "c'est un chapeau" or (more emphatic) "ceci est un chapeau."
Ceci = ce + ici = this here
You use it when you want to emphasize that you are talking about the item close to you and not the one that is farther away.
ce is usually translated to this or that. But when you see ceci, you know it is definitely this.
Cela = ce + là = that (there)
Cela refers to something that is not close and is always translated as that
It has to do with the meaning implied. Simple in English and French can have the literal meaning of plain or the figurative meaning of ordinary/not more or better than/not special.
If you want to describe a hat that has no ornaments and is just plain, you would say un chapeau simple.
If you want to say "a simple hat" in the sense of "a mere hat" in French, then it is un simple chapeau
Because both forms translate to a simple hat, then either French form would be acceptable as a translation of the English phrase. The decision on which to use depends on the message the speaker is trying to convey. You as a listener would only be able to tell from the context in which it is said. In a case like this where there is no context, then either order will do.
BTW, if you would take time to read the discussion before posting a question, you are likely to find that your question has been answered already, and it would save you having to ask a redundant question.
According to the BANGS rule, I thought it should "c'est un chapeau simple" but i was marked wrong because i should have also marked "c'est un simple chapeau" I don't know if anyone can answer this because this discussion seems to be talking about something completely different...
The discussion is not talking about something different. In English as well as French, "simple" can have the meaning "plain" or the meaning "nothing more than".
In English you would say "a simple hat" when you mean a plain hat (ie, the literal translation of the word "simple"). If that is the sense you want to convey, then in French, you would write "un chapeau simple".
In English you would say "a simple hat" when you mean "no more and no less" (ie, the figurative translation of the word "simple"). If that is the sense you want to convey, then in French, the word order changes and you would write "un simple chapeau".
So in a multiple choice question, when going from English to French, you would have to choose both French sentences because in English we use the same sentence to convey the two different ideas, so both sentences are good translations of the English one unless the context is known, which it isn't when the sentence stands alone.
@lucylucy21, you can read more about how meaning can override all you know about the BAGS/BANGS rule at the following link: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_4.htm
Incidentally, I know the N in BANGS stands for new/old but I just realized this is included in the A = age, so methinks BAGS is a better acronym. This is especially important since new can have the figurative sense of "first time owned/seen/...etc" which may have little to do with how old something is and so the adjective placement would change as follows (actually even the word for "new" would change):
My new car (brand new on the market, never used) = ma voiture neuve
My new car (second-hand purchase but new to me because it is the first time I have possession of it) = ma nouvelle voiture