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  5. "We were having breakfast whe…

"We were having breakfast when we saw a robber leaving the neighbor's house."

Translation:Nous prenions le petit déjeuner quand nous avons vu un voleur qui sortait de la maison du voisin.

May 10, 2020



I don't understand the use of qui. A subordinate clause is NOT in the original. My answer was "Nous prenions le petit déjeuner quand nous avons vu un voleur sortait de la maison du voisin."

It would be good to have a lesson on predicates. In English the direct object of we say can be a complete thought. Does this sentence imply that complex direct objects must be broken into a simple object with an explanatory clause?


Relative pronouns are never optional in French (nor conjunctions by the way). "Qui" is the subject relative pronoun standing for the (optional) "who" or "that" and the verb is conjugated in 3rd person singular for "qui".

So, here are your options:

  • quand nous avons vu un voleur qui sortait... = ... when we saw a robber who was going out
  • quand nous avons vu un voleur sortir... = ... when we saw a robber going out
  • quand nous avons vu un voleur sortant... = ... when we saw a robber going out

All three are possible and common.


I was thinking the gerund would work here (sortant) but Duolingo hasn't taught us this yet (at this point on the tree).


It was exactly my problem! I actually wrote "Sortait" because I had no idea what to write. My answer was actually accepted, but it corrected "sortair" to "sortant" and I was struggling to find out what structure was that!


Except the exercise does not say the robber was "going out" but "leaving" so "... en quittant la maison..." should have been accepted.


Google Translate gives "quitter" (without the qui), so I tried "sortir", and this is accepted.
It took a bit of Googling, but looks like voir can take the infinitive. See e.g. here https://grammar.collinsdictionary.com/french-easy-learning/verbs-followed-by-an-infinitive (end of section 2).


... en quittant was rejected


No, a gerund is not welcome in this sentence.

Here are your options with "quitter":

  • ... j'ai vu un voleur qui quittait la maison...
  • ... j'ai vu un voleur quitter la maison...
  • ... j'ai vu un voleur en train de quitter la maison...


If the gerund was used, would it imply the 'we' in this sentence saw a thief while they were leaving the neighbor's house (and somehow simultaneously eating breakfast)? Or would it just be complete gibberish?


Sort of, yes.


Duo gives 'sortant de la maison' as preferable to 'sortait de la maison' so it looks the two of you are in disagreement over the allowed use of a gerund....


"... quand nous avons vu un voleur sortant de la maison" is not a gerund but the present participle.


Isn't sortant acting as a gerund here, however?


It is not what French grammar defines as a gerund but in English grammar, you can call it a gerund.

The French gerund is "en sortant" and it can mean "upon/by/while/from exiting".


Got this response: "You have a typo" "Nous prenions le petit déjeuner quand nous avons vu un voleur sortant de la maison du voisin."

Sortant wasn't even an option listed.


Yes so have I. DUOLINGO you are telling us we have a typo, but you're not giving us the option of choosing the word 'sortant', only 'sortait' is an available choice! Please could you correct this as it's confusing!


A correct answer with "sortait" is possible: "Nous prenions le petit déjeuner quand nous avons vu un voleur qui sortait de la maison du voisin".
Only when you type your answer can you use "sortant".


I don't understand why qui is required with using sortait but not when using sortant or sortir. Please explain, if you don't mind. Thanks!


"... qui sortait" means "... who was leaving".

The English sentence has "leaving" by itself, which is also possible in French in the present participle form "sortant de".

In French, it is more common to use a relative clause (qui sortait) than a present participle (sortant de).


I admit to being a bit too clever by trying: "nous prenions le petit déjeuner quand nous avons vu un voleur qui sortait chez le voisin" Is "chez le voisin" not a goer?


The verb is "sortir de", even before "chez le voisin": nous prenions le petit déjeuner quand nous avons vu un voleur qui sortait de chez le voisin.


Thanks for the guidance. I'd noticed that when "chez" is used it seems to get a free pass from the requirement for articles. But I was thinking of it as a noun like "maison". But it's really a preposition rather than a noun, isn't it? So I guess that's why further articles often aren't needed. But in this case, because of the use of sortir, one has to say from where the sortir(ing) was happening.


Like other prepositions, "chez" can be followed by a noun or a pronoun. If it's a noun, you will need a determiner (article, possessive, demonstrative....), and pronouns rarely use an article:

  • "Chez le boulanger" means "at/to the baker's shop", yet possibly "at/to the baker's home".
  • "Chez moi" means "at/to my house/place" or simply "at home".
  • "Chez mon père ou chez le tien" means "at/to my father's or at/to yours".

You are right, when the verb is constructed with "de", you need to add it before "chez": "sortir de chez le boucher", "partir de chez lui".


Why is de la maison de la voisine incorrect


Since "de la maison de la voisine" is correct and accepted, your mistake was in the rest of your sentence. Next time, please copy and paste your entire answer.


Thanks - everything else was as the translation - I tried it twice with de la voisine but each time is was rejected and could only get past by putting du voisin. If it should come up again I will copy and paste.


mais oui! tous les jours dans mon quartier


MY answer was nous prenions le petit déjeuner quand nous avons vu un voleur quitter la maison de voisin Where is the error ?? Is the DE la maison needed ? Help Thanks


It's actually not the la that's missing a de, but other way round - it's the de that's missing a le. It needs to be du voisin (of the neighbour).


Why "sortant" was not accepted? Is it just because it wasn't studied?


"Sortant" is among the possibilities. What was your exact sentence?


This wasn't jumbled up - it was already solved


As I asked just above, could you please get a screenshot and post it here? That way I can take that information to the developers. Otherwise, they won't see the bug and won't believe me.

Here's how to take a screenshot: https://support.duolingo.com/hc/en-us/articles/204856044-How-do-I-take-a-screenshot-
And this explains how to upload and post a screenshot in the forums: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/33394339/GUIDE-How-To-Upload-A-Screenshot


Hey CommeuneTexane, I don't believe this is a bug. Ideally, there's space for the tap tokens, and an equal amount of space for the tokens to fly to. On smaller screens, this space is not available with sentences as long as this one, especially in the 'Type what you hear' exercises, where a considerable part of the screen is taken up by the audio buttons. In those cases, part or even all of the tap tokens will already be in place. The alternative would have been to include a scroll bar.

This is what it's like on a 5" screen: https://streamable.com/98ks7o

The API contains traces of A/B tests with names such as 'android_shrink_long_sentence_tap_tokens', so I believe this is a feature, not a bug.


Why was the correct answer not 'nous avons vus' as opposed to 'nous avons vu' (seeing as we refers to more than one person)? Thanks in advance!


Hi. I believe it is because when using the passé composé with the verb avoir generally the past participle is invariable (ie: you don't change it for gender or number). It's different if though, if it is one of those words that use être. Here's a pretty good link: https://frenchtogether.com/passe-compose/ Look down at section 3.


Thanks for that!


Your comment says I have a type when I chose "sortait" and it should be "Nous prenions le petit déjeuner quand nous avons vu un voleur sortant de la maison du voisin." The choice of "sortant" was never given and I can't see where that is an appropriate choice at any rate. You answer here is the correct one and the one I wrote.


What wrong with: Nous prenions le petit dejeuner quand nous avons vu un voleur en sortant de la maison du voisin


I think the issue is that you have switched subjects between nous and le voleur. I believe you can only use this gerondif form for two actions performed at the same time by the same subject. So you could maybe say "Nous prenions le petit déjeuner en voyant un voleur qui sortait de la maison du voisin" but it wouldn't be a direct translation, probably. It would be more like: we were having breakfast while watching a robber .... .


coming out or leaving what's the difference?


They mean basically the same thing in this sentence. "We were having breakfast when we saw a robber coming out of the neighbor's house" is another possibility.


Voleur sortait was underlined as a typo, corrected to sortant. I didn't use qui. Why is it voleur sortant or voleur qui sortait?


"Sortant" is a present participle you can use by itself, like "a robber leaving".

"Sortait" is conjugated so it needs a subject. Since "un voleur" is the direct object of "nous avons vu", it cannot be a subject for another verb, hence the use of the subject relative pronoun "qui" before "sortait".


I forgot to make the first "N" upper case but the remainder matched exactly ... v. harsh to not accept it


Duolingo does not penalize missing capitalization or even punctuation. There must have been another error, or, as happens very rarely, a bug.

Next time, would you please copy and paste your answer here so we can determine what happened? Thank you.


Why is it le petit déjeuner and not du petit déjeuner?


"Prendre le petit déjeuner" is the way to say it. The French would not say "prendre du petit déjeuner".


Any explanation other than dogma? One has some breakfast, whereas le petit déjeuner is "the breakfast"


Well, that's silly! All the words were already selected. Not much of an exercise.


If that happens again, could you get a screenshot and post it in the sentence discussion, please?


I don't understand the use of 'sue' in this sentence. Please could somebody explain to me?


"Sue"? Where?

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