"Il n'y a ni tisane ni café, seulement des bières."
Translation:There isn't either herbal tea or coffee, only beers.
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(I'm English). I think it would be more natural to say "There isn't any herbal tea or coffee, only beer", or "There is no herbal tea or coffee, only beer". More literally one could translate as "There is neither herbal tea nor coffee, only beer" but that sounds a bit archaic. I agree with the other comments that we would say "only beer" rather than "only beers". I guess you could imagine the bar keeper might say "only beers", with a sweeping gesture to indicate the wide range of beers available at the bar!
On your last point, that was the scenario I imagined, and hesitated over bières because I assumed if the French sentence meant 'beer' in its general, uncountable sense (like the herbal tea and coffee) it would have been either 'de la bière' or 'la bière'. Whereas 'des bières' seemed like a deliberate contrast to the rest of the sentence and therefore significant, so 'beers'.
I'd be interested if a native speaker could advise whether I got to the 'right' answer but by the wrong grammatical route. Never quite sure about 'countable' and 'uncountable' nouns, though I'm pretty sure from my visits to French brasseries that French beer can become very uncountable very quickly!
Since beer is uncountable (a bulk noun), the plural is only used for different types of beers (similar to fruit). You must specify the number of servings/quantity of beer the same as water or coffee.
Here are some examples:
"I like to drink beer", "I drink a lot of beer", "Beer is full of B group vitamins", "Would you like some beer", "We only have beer" = generic beer as used in this sentence, it can mean one or more types of beer.
"I drank some of each beer" = different types of beer
"This pub has over thirty beers on tap", "I have three beers, which do you want?", "I had five beers" = different types of beer
"I had five pints of beer" = multiple servings, a specified quantity of beer but it could be the same kind or different types of beer.
"Two schooners of beer please" = two servings. When ordering you would almost always specify the type of beer eg "Two pints of Kilkenny please" and not use the word beer at all.
In spoken English this is sometimes contracted to "two beers" but this is dangerous as you might get the wrong size (pint, schooner, jug, bottle, can, litre, half-litre, midi, and in South Australia a "pint" = 15 fluid ounces = 3/4 of a "real" pint...). It is more likely you would drop the word "beer" as per the following:
"I'll have 3 pints", "I brought a sixpack/carton", "I'll get us a jug" = a number of servings of beer, where the actual beverage (beer) is implied.
What makes you think there is more than one type of beer here?
"bière" is a countable noun in French (like "fruit"), so this sentence can mean more than one serving of the same type of beer. (ie some beer in English)
Graeme, it seems in your zeal you are reading more into this sentence than there is. There is no indication that it is about an "outlet" or multiple types of beer.
I could be at home, and you come to visit. I want to offer you a drink, but I don't have coffee or herbal tea, but I do have beer (of one or more than one type).
So I say "Il n'y a ni tisane ni café, seulement des bières."
Nor is there any evidence that it is NOT an outlet. Either interpretation is a valid translation. From my perspective, your home is a potential outlet of either beer or beers.
But if you do say "Il n'y a ni tisane ni café, seulement des bières.", then you are offering me a choice of beers. If you are offering me "beer" then you should offer me "de la bière", not "des bières".
We don't know there is a choice, although there might be. Bière can be countable or uncountable. In the countable form (as here) it means a bottle, can or glass of beer. So we only know that the correct translation is "some beers", which could indicate a choice of types or just a number of bottles of the same type. Exactly the same ambiguity exists in the English version. On the other hand the translation "some beer" (uncountable) isn't ideal as it changes the noun from countable to uncountable.
According to the dictionaries beer can be either countable or uncountable in either language. Here is is clearly the countable form, because it's plural, and therefore is best translated the same way. The countable form can refer either to servings (a beer = a glass, bottle or can) or to a number of different types of beer (we have ten beers available in this bar).
Correctly, "Two beer, please". You will often hear two beers, and it will certainly be understood. I concede the more commonly heard phrasing for part two of your question would be "Which of these beers would you prefer?". In this case it means which of these various brands are you choosing. Notwithstanding this usage, beer is both singular and plural, one beer, two beer. I would then say, "Make mine a Rickert's Red please.". I know language lives and morphs. It grates on my ear when I hear "a coffee" or two teas please, meaning one cup of, two cups of.... These are preferences, and overall language is about communicating concepts. Thank you to all those Francophones and Italian speakers for flexibility when I am may not get it quite right.
"Two beer, please." is NOT correct, as you are presumably well aware.
This exercise also indicates that there are multiple types, and presumably multiple brands, of beer available, even though they don't have tisane or coffee.
But I have no idea whether they have Rickert's Red.
The bigger problem with Duo's translation is that the "isn't" applies to the "only beers", which is the opposite of what is meant.
Although fortunately it is so blatantly wrong and nonsensical that everyone understands the sentence to mean what was intended, and not what is actually said.
Your first suggestion suffers from the same problem, only the other two are correct.
Apart from the fact that the French sentence is about multiple beers and not one bulk beer.
Although several correct translations are possible yours is incorrect because you have changed the plural bières to the singular beer. If the French sentence had meant beer in the singular it would have said de la bière, but it said des bières. Perhaps there was a range of 30 designer beers on offer?
Only when you are specifically pointing out the different types.
"I have beer in the fridge. There are three beers to choose from, help yourself."
The first "beer", even though there are multiple types available is singular because beer is uncountable (a bulk noun). Only when you are specifically pointing out the different types would you use the plural. It is the same as fruit or any other bulk noun (wheat, water, flour, oil etc):
"I have fruit in the fridge. There are three fruits to choose from, help yourself."
Using ni ... ni replaces the de used with negative statements. "Il n'y a pas de café" becomes "Il n'y a ni café ni thé". Bières is used as a countable noun in this sentence, rather than beer in general - hence des bières. If it were uncountable, for example if you had a large barrel of the stuff instead of some bottles, it would have been de la bière. You would use the definite article if you were talking in general terms (J'aime les bières artisanales /J'aime la bière blonde) or specific beer (Je vais mettre la bière dans le frigo). Hope this helps.
Beer in bottles is just as uncountable in English as beer in barrels.
The issue is that in French "bière" is countable like "fruit" is.
So where in English we say "only (some) beer/fruit" when there are multiple servings, in French it is "seulement des bières/fruits." = "only (some) beer/fruit".
Sorry but you have got this one wrong. Just as in French, the English word beer can be countable or uncountable. Here's a link to one of the Oxford dictionaries, but check Collins, Cambridge, Dictionary.com, Macmillan, Mirriam-Webster or almost any other dictionary and you'll find the same thing. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/beer
In my area (California) I almost never hear "beers" in a sentence like this. "... Neither...nor only beer" is how it would be said here. However one might say, when with friends, and one person is getting an IPA, another a lager,. "you wait here, I'll go get the beers". But we all know California is like it's own country....