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"Des" in translations

I've noticed that some people seem to be translating "des" as "some" every time it appears, and I don't think that's good idiomatic English even if it is technically correct. The indefinite article "des" is always included in French because it has to be, but we tend to drop it in English unless we're deliberately emphasizing that we're only talking about a portion of a group, like I did above. ("Some people" are making this mistake...but not everyone.) I think the "des" = "some" thing may have been overemphasized in the lessons?

July 18, 2012



When I come across "des" in the course of my lessons (say, in the context of "des fraises"), I generally go with simply "strawberries", rather than, "some strawberries". The offered correct translations allow for it, and it seems easier and more natural.


It's tricky, because sometimes Duolingo requires the "some"and sometimes it doesn't. You just have to learn to put whatever gets you through the exercise (on the next time around).

There are other cases where "des" and "les" seem to be used almost interchangeably e.g. "Des hommes" or "Les hommes" are both used to stand for "Men" in the abstract.


In the lessons themselves, I was scored wrong on a couple of questions because I didn't include "some" (presumably because the alternate translation wasn't included yet). Therefore, in the lessons, I choose to play it safe and always include it.

I know better than to do the same thing in the document translations, where smooth English is the goal, but I assume other people have been beat into submission by the lessons and are afraid to ever omit the word "some," even when it's unnecessary.


Yeah, the lessons can be way too picky sometimes...I think I've been marked wrong once or twice for translating "il/elle" as "it," too. I wonder if this stuff will be fixed by the time we're out of beta, or if this is just the price we pay for the convenience of being graded by a computer.


"des hommes" and "les hommes" are not interchangeable. they simply mean different notions. So, let's be disciplined and put 'some' whenever "des" is proposed. Same comment for "il/elle" (refering to masculine or feminine words, not just genders) which cannot be mistaken with a neutral "it". Let's face it, (="acceptons-le"), French is not a translation of English but an evolution of latin. anybody having learnt Latin here?


They may "mean" or "imply" different notions, but as Duolingo is very definitely using them interchangeably in many question sets, but not consistently across all sets. Ditto for he/it.

Given the problems pointed out in the earlier sets where this arises, which I am encountering even today on level 10, there aren't so many sentences across the course that couldn't be fixed in very short order.

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