"La fourmi est un insecte."

Translation:The ant is an insect.

April 29, 2013



The acid in the sting of an ant is the formic acid. I see some relationship here.

June 21, 2014


Because for the most of the other ones i have something to relate it to, like; singe-similar to the latin word for monkey which is simia, abeille- sounds like a bee, dauphin- obviously sounds like dolphin, poulet-poultry, cheval-idk it sounds like chivalry idk how that connects but it does idk knights? Lots of chivalry in those times with horse and swords, mouton-lamb meat, torture- sounds like turtle, serpent- is a snake so..., taureau- sounds like and comes from taurus, chien- sounds like canine, araignèe- sounds like arachnid

July 23, 2014


The Old-French-speaking Normans conquered the British Isles about a century-and-a-half ago. With their rule, they also brought their language. As a result, over half of English's vocabulary comes from French! Since French descended from Latin, a lot of scientific and medical terms derived from Latin resemble French words, for example, fourmi and formic acid.

February 13, 2016


That was almost a thousand years ago, not a century. :-) 950 years ago to be exact.

March 8, 2016


It is probably a misprint: century instead of millenium. The "Battle of Hastings" in 1066

August 18, 2016


I figured as much. Hence the smiley face. :-)

August 19, 2016


As to your 'cheval' question: the French word for knight is 'chevalier,' which literally means 'horseman.' Think of the knight in chess - a man seated on a horse.

April 9, 2017


in spanish: simia = simio, abeille =arbeja , dauphin = delfín, poulet = pollo, cheval = caballo, mouton = oveja, torture = tortuga, serpent = serpiente, taureau = toro, araignèe = araña, chien = perro, but "cánido" also exists; so only mouton seems very different here.

June 24, 2017


the scientific name of ant is Formica Formica (Latin) from which we have formic acid and la fourmi

January 17, 2016


Oh, i thought of ant pheromones

June 9, 2017


Why is it "la fourmi est un insect" and not "la fourmi est une insecte" shouldn't "la fourmi" be feminine? Im getting confused now...

May 27, 2014

  • 1753

There are two nouns here: la fourmi (feminine) and l'insecte (masculine). Adjectives typically change form to agree with the gender and number of the noun they modify but other nouns are not changed and there is no feminine version of the noun l'insecte.

September 19, 2014


Why isn't the "t" pronounced in "est," since it is followed by a vowel?

April 1, 2015


I think of liaisons like the one you reference not so much as being mandatory but just nice in how they make the language flow and help us understand better. It is kind of like how in the UK they do not pronounce the final R in say, father but if the next word after father starts with a vowel, they may pronounce it and link the two words so that father of becomes [FAHTHUROHV]. However, no one would fault you if you didn't link the words and said [FAHTHUH OHV].

So while it is a useful tool, especially for us who are learning new words and probably need all the help we can get picturing their spellings in our minds, not pronouncing the T in est when a word starting with vowel follows it is not exactly wrong, IMO...just perhaps uncommon.

April 1, 2015


I found an article on liaisons that explains that the liaisons like the T in "est" fall under "optional liaisons": http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-liaisons-o.htm

However, there are apparently required liaisons


...as well as forbidden liaisons (et comes to mind)


April 1, 2015


Tnxs useful links

May 23, 2017


I agree. I came to this discussion with the same question. I think the correct pronunciation should have been "et-un." I suspect that sometimes the translations they use are compounds of the individual words. They did say that when you select the 'slow play' version, the liaisons in the individual words disappear. I think they missed this one in developing the complete sentence.

April 9, 2017


OK, upon reflection, here's why "et un" isn't pronounced "ay-tun." It's because if you say "ay-tun" you confuse it with "est-un." So if you took the word 'et' and liasoned the 't' onto the 'un,' it would be confusing. So it would then confuse "an ant is an insect" with "an ant and an insect."

So you need to be able to differentiate between "The ant is an insect," and "the ant and an insect." The way you do that is to not liason the 't' in 'et' as you do in 'est.' So 'et un' is pronounced 'ay un.' Does that make sense?

April 12, 2017


What you say is confirmed by mere_des_chats last link which says that "et" never has liasion. Also by my investigation in forvo:

here all et vocal... are pronounced without t https://el.forvo.com/search/et%20un/

all est vocal...are pronounced with t https://el.forvo.com/search/est%20un/ with one exception, a man says c'est horrible twice, once with t and once without?

April 12, 2017


Personally I would have said "Ants are insects". We don't tend to put "the" in front of everything like the French do.

February 10, 2015


Oh you will be surprised. The phrase "the ___ is...." is used a lot in documentaries and a lot of informative articles that are defining a species. The plural as you suggest is used too, but almost as much as "The ___ is..." Here are some examples with several sentences that follow that format within the article, if not at the beginning:





February 11, 2015


This is a justification for why "The ant is an insect" should be accepted, not a reason why "Ants are insects," which is the more idomatic translation, should be rejected.

See, for example:





It makes very little since for Duolingo to ask one to translate a French sentence into English, and then reject a correct, idomatic English translation.

December 26, 2016


I beg to disagree. It makes a whole lot of sense for a translation for les fourmis sont des insectes to be rejected because that is not the sentence we were asked to translate.

January 4, 2017


You are making the mistake of thinking that translations must be word-for-word to be correct. Your suggestion that an English speaker who says “Ants are insects” is saying the same thing as a French speaker who says “Les fourmis sont des insects” betrays this, for you have just made a word-for-word mistranslation of the English sentence. In point of fact, if you’ll take the trouble of looking at the uses of “Ants are insects” that I linked to above, you’ll see that they are saying the exact same thing as a French speaker who says “La fourmi est un insecte.” In other words, neither of them means that one specific, individually identified ant is an insect, while the other ants in the world are perhaps mammals or evergreens or some other thing that is not an insect, but rather they mean that ants, as a species, are insects. French expresses this with a definitive article (making the particular represent the general). English can express it with a definitive article, but outside of BBC nature documentaries, it’s much more common (and idiomatic) to express the idea with the plural and no article in English. Articles and other determiners are often used differently in different languages and it is a very basic translation error to insist that the determiners must be word-for-word identical in order for a translation to be correct. Saying that “Ants are insects” is not a correct translation of “La fourmi est un insecte” makes that basic translation error.

January 5, 2017


It is not a matter of word-for-word translations. It is a matter of ACCURACY of a translation. A word-for-word translation would be claiming that il fait chaud means "it does hot". I suggested no such thing. Instead I made sure not to change the implied quantity in the original sentence into something else.

You on the other hand are trying to imply that it would be OK to translate a sentence written in plural as singular and vice versa. With all due respect, that is pure poppycock. Les journaux is not "a newspaper" or "a journal". There is a reason why when you ask for "a something" you get one and when you ask for the plural you are likely to be asked "how many would you like?" Many are not the same as one and never will be, so please stop the madness.

Just because in the context of science "an ant is an insect" conveys the same information as "ants are insects", in that it classifies the species as being under the umbrella of animals called "insects", it does not mean we should do away with nuances that reflect the quantity in question. A translation is not a paraphrase. A translation is an echo of the SAME phrase in a different language. That is why une pomme is not translated as "apples" but rather as "an apple".

January 10, 2017


Thanks, je prends note

March 13, 2015


I'm confused as to why "fourmi" is listed as translating to both "busy bee" and "ant" and yet "The bee is an insect" is incorrect. Does "busy bee" refer to the figurative description of person/creature which constantly does something productive?

July 3, 2013


I never heard of busy bee being fourmi...

July 4, 2013


I ran busy bee through three relevant dictionaries. They all came up with phrases involving bees. None of them mentioned ants.

I ran fourmi through the same dictionaries. They returned nothing other than ant.

While I could see ants being used in the same way as bees to carry that particular meaning, it doesn't seem to have worked it's way into dictionaries. That leads me to believe busy ants are referenced less frequently than energetic bees in common French speech.

August 1, 2013


And now I have checked fourmi in my french-french dictionary (Le Petit Robert micro - especially for those learning french).

Yes, in french the comparison to ants mean that someone is hard working: "Allusion au travail anonyme et obstiné des fourmis. C'est une fourmi - une personne laborieuse, économe. Un travail de fourmi - un travail long et nécessitant beaucoup d'efforts."

Seing people or cars from high above one can compare them to ants in french as in, I'm sure, many other languages.

March 10, 2014


In Swedish (my native language) we have the expression of being busy/productive as an ant (vara flitig som en myra) so for me it makes sense! We don't compare to busy bees. How the french speaking world treats this comparison is beyond my knowledge.

March 10, 2014


Ants and bees share the same organizational skills and work ethic. Not so different, you see.

May 5, 2016


Oh god, I wrote "The ant is an incest" and was confused why it was wrong. Facepalm

March 23, 2016


Isn't "la fourmi" feminine? Why are we using "un" here?

October 25, 2014


The word "insecte" is masculine. So it does not matter if the ant is feminine.

It is similar to how you may point at a female cat and say "cette chatte est un animal". The word "animal" is masculine so must be preceded by "un" even though the word describing the animal in question may be feminine.

November 10, 2014


I thought the e at the end is not suppose to be pronounced?

July 29, 2015


How come the 'un' before insect is masculine, rather than feminim?

October 10, 2015


Because the word insecte is masculine. If you go by the assumption that words that end in "e" are always feminine, you need to drop that way of thinking STAT. Homme, père, musée are examples of masculine words that end in "e". What you need to do is not try to find a formula for gender but instead just learn each word's gender from the first time you see it and it will become second nature.

I have always seen the French word for "water" with a definite article l'eau or partitive article de l'eau, so it took me years to realize that I didn't know its gender. So if I had to write "the water is hot", I would not have known whether to write chaud or chaude. (It is chaude, I know now.) So now I make it a habit to look up the gender of every new noun I learn. If it is introduced in a way that its gender is not obvious as eau was, then I look it up in a dictionary.

Knowing the gender of nouns is essential for a good mastery of French so don't leave it to guesswork.

October 10, 2015


It can be quite difficult to understand the voice of the woman

April 13, 2016


English people would say "An ant is an insect" not "The ant is an insect" as we are not referring to a particular ant but to all ants.

September 17, 2017


Uhmm...if you watch documentaries or read scientific books, trust me, you would come across "the ant is an insect". It is a good habit to read the discussion before rushing to post. If you had done so, you would have seen examples I gave of this very construction.

In this context "the ant" is referring to the species. Besides you are supposed to translate the given sentence not write what you think it should be.

September 17, 2017


How do you differentiate between est, as in 'is' and et, as in 'and' by sound/pronunciation?

November 17, 2017


why "ant is an insect" isn't true? -_-

May 10, 2013


You forgot the "The ant". You need the "La", "the.

June 8, 2013


Is "fourni" a word? If not why wouldn't Duo catch the typo

March 8, 2014


Fournir (and thus the form fourni) is a french verb. It means to bring supplys, necessities.

March 10, 2014


Don't you think that using "the ant" instead of "an ant" makes this sentence a bit awkward? It's like meaning that THIS particular ant is an insect and THAT another particular ant is not. Doesn't make sense...

July 23, 2014

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Even in English, "the" is required. Sometimes "the" may refer to a specific noun (determined by context). This is the other application of using the definite article referring to ants in general. http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/articles_2.htm

September 19, 2014


Even in English, "the" is correct here.

January 6, 2016


Liason does not occur after "et," but does it occur after "est"? Should the pronunciation be "la fourmi est t-un insect"?

November 23, 2014


I don't think all liaisons are compulsory. Just as in English you can carry the R sound in the word more so that "more of it" sounds like "morovit", or you can decide to state each word separately--esp in British English where the R in "more" is not pronounce--[mo(r) ov it], I believe the same option applies in French.

November 23, 2014


The word "insect" in French has an "e" at the end. What is a trick that I can learn to remember how to spell some of these French words correctly just from hearing?

January 14, 2015


Well, the fact that the "T" in insecte is pronounced is a clue that there might be an "E" at the end of the word. But really your best bet is just to learn the spellings by heart. For while having an "E" at the end can help you differentiate between words like grand and grande, the D being pronounced in the latter, there are words that don't end with "E" whose last consonant is pronounded: http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-lettresmuettes.htm

January 14, 2015


Is there any way to tell the difference between 'et' and 'est' from the pronunciation?

April 5, 2015


Yes, there is. The word et sounds like é which is [ay] while the word est is more open/short sounds like è which is [eh]. Try to see if you can hear the difference in this clip: https://youtu.be/gsia7w_KSQ8

Notice the liaison between est and the following word if it starts with vowel (i.e., the T is pronounced). You never pronounce the T in et.

April 5, 2015


Merci beaucoup ! :)

April 5, 2015


Is there a different word for "bug"? Or are they translated as the same word?

July 24, 2015


Une bestiole is the word for "bug, but because people refer to insects as "bugs", I believe un insect would work too.

July 24, 2015


What is the difference between "La" and "Le"

September 2, 2015


Please click on this link and scroll down to the section on "Articles".

September 2, 2015


Thank you so much, this really helped.

September 8, 2015


Why is Fourmi feminine?

October 3, 2015

  • 1753

All nouns in French have a gender including inanimate objects or even abstract concepts. For some, there may be some reason why the noun is masculine or feminine. For many (okay, most), there is no reason at all. When you learn the noun, make a point to remember its gender, too. http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/nouns_2.htm

October 24, 2015


It sounded like, "la fourmi et un insecte.". Is there any way to tell the difference?

November 8, 2015


Context would have helped even if you cannot distinguish between the two sounds et which sounds like [ay] and est which sounds like [eh]. "The ant and an insect" is as odd sounding as saying "the man and a human being" or "the gun and a firearm".

November 8, 2015


Wow and lol I love duolingo Do you

November 17, 2015



January 13, 2016


Est un sounds like ehhOOO

June 8, 2016


It is not that clear

August 18, 2016


Well I would hope so

August 26, 2016


In words such as insecte that has "e" end of it when we prounonce it and when we dont?

November 19, 2016


how to distinguish "est" from "et" since they sound the same?

December 2, 2016



December 29, 2016


How do people hear the difference between "est un" and "et un"?

January 9, 2017


I thought it said an ant eats an insect and i was like CANABALISIM

January 9, 2017



February 17, 2017


lol wrote ''incect''... not english.... wow

February 22, 2017


the ant is an insect is wrong? why?

March 19, 2017

[deactivated user]

    Yes, and I am a human.

    April 10, 2017


    I thought words that ended in -te were feminin

    April 12, 2017


    How come there are two vowls beside each other?

    April 12, 2017


    i said it perfect but then my little brother screamed (he is 5 and a bit crazy) ruind it

    July 10, 2017


    Bug gross!

    August 15, 2017


    I thought the voice should make the "liason" ... La fourmi est~un insect (estun) In "est" the T is silent, but in 'est un" the T is heard (Chui pa'd Paname mais j'y bossais) A little slang for you ( I'm not from Paris but I worked there) (Je ne suis pas de Paris mais j'y travaillais). Perhaps the French Academie will disagree with me!

    November 11, 2017


    That is one of the optional liaisons. Both /ay ah(ng')/ and /aytah(ng')/ are correct pronunciations for est un.


    November 11, 2017


    Often, when the possibility is that 'est' could be confused with 'et,' the est liases with the vowel, but the et doesn't. So if the sentence could be interpreted as both 'The ant IS an insect,' and 'The ant AND an insect,' then the liason lets the listener know that 'est' is being used, rather than 'et.'

    November 12, 2017


    Good point, especially if the speaker does not differentiate the pronunciation of et and and that of est.

    November 12, 2017


    i knew what it was but i just wasnt able to press the last word

    March 20, 2018



    April 24, 2018


    Went it auto corrects to incest instead of insect. Yeahhh

    October 29, 2018


    How woyld you say multiple ants?

    January 20, 2019


    Les fourmis (sont des insectes).

    January 20, 2019
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