"Il n'y a ni tisane ni café, seulement des bières."

Translation:There isn't either herbal tea or coffee, only beers.

June 23, 2020

82 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Drextremer

(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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/effyleven

"There is neither..." is how I would say it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrianBoru4

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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RowenaJane

Yes, we don't say 'beers' at all.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

How then do you describe more than one beer?

Or offer a choice of beers?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_adger

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

But that is what we have here.

We don't know whether they have over thirty beers on tap, but we are being told that there are two or more choices available.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_adger

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)

https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=Category:French_countable_nouns&pagefrom=BIEre


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

But that is not what it means in a sentence describing what is available at a particular outlet.

Just because a word can mean something does not mean that it does mean that in this particular context..


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_adger

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."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

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".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarlGraing1

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarlGraing1

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).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/carolynn357728

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarlGraing1

Beer is either singular or uncountable. It is not plural - at least not according to the Oxford English Dictionary


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

My OED/Hachette says that

deux bières => two beers

so I guess they must still be catching up.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

"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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/spc430s

You do if you are from the rural south! “Gonna go get me some of ‘dem cold beers.”


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/carolynn357728

Yup, beers sounds like something Doug and Bob MacKenzie would have said, did say, on Saturday Night Live in their Canadian True North skits. It is very colloquial.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/R3m3X1

Sorry, team, but 'there isn't either' is very unlikely phrasing. 'There is neither' (which I wrote, and on which I was marked wrong) is correct. Thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndersAxmark

This translation is foreigner English, it's awkward to the point that it's confusing


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeterSymonds

This is really bad English. Double negative. 'There is neither herbal tea nor coffee, only beer' is the only correct translation. Colloquially one would say 'there's no herbal tea or coffee, only beer' Sometime Duolingo's English translation leaves a lot to be desired.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarlGraing1

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_adger

In English you still use the singular for generic beer, if there were multiple types of beer available.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

But there's no such thing as generic beer. Each beer is different.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Soleilsvp

Only beer, would be correct usage


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarlGraing1

It might be, but it isn't what the French says.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

Not if there are multiple beers, it wouldn't.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PublicUniqueName

The English phrase states that there isn't either a or b, but like a good coin riddle the answer could still be the other one of a or b. The French phrase, I believe, would work better with "neither".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jean856723

Another tortured phrase!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/R3m3X1

Please fix this, friends. The above translation is not English. Thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wpeterm

what's wrong with "there is neither herb tea nor coffee only beers"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_adger

"herb tea" is probably ok, but "herbal tea" is more likely. Beer is uncountable, so the singular is used.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

Beer is not necessarily uncountable and here it is obviously not.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JesseGaronP

This is a lesson in how to sound like a non-native English speaker.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SusieDar

Why is 'neither "not accepted throughout this lesson? I feel it is the most natural translation.....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Colin178883

Does tisane need translation? It is commonly used in English and is a particular herbal tea blend


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_adger

Because the French word means any type of herbal tea, not just "a particular herbal tea blend". It can be argued that they are the same.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ClaudioL.Ouiseau

Sounds like my kind of place


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/7jeny3

I don't know why you would say beers in plural in either laguage. Awkward in US English for sure.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ColinCanuck

If there were many different type of beer I might say "beers"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_adger

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."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

But the whole purpose of this sentence is to inform us that they have different types of beer, but not of tisane or coffee.

They don't need to tell us how many types of beer. Why should they?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

Have you literally never offered anybody a choice of beers?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/christineg116789

there isnt either.....or Or there is neither.......nor. Both correct english


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/4u1e

Hmm, the app English translation treats tea and coffee as uncountable, but beers as countable in the same sentence. Should be consistent, surely?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BarbaraSti2

Why no articles with the tea and coffee but article with beer? And not les bières, but des? Can someone explain the French rule.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarlGraing1

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_adger

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".

https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=Category:French_countable_nouns&pagefrom=biere


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarlGraing1

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

No, beer is uncountable like coffee is.

"Seulement des bières/fruits" actually => "only (some) beers/fruit(s)".

And luckily, most of us can count bottles. I am sorry to hear that you find it to be insurmountable.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

It's not a French rule, it's an English rule. A choice of beers requires "beers" not "the beers".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MalcolmMor94382

"There is neither herbal tea nor coffee, only beers."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

… is by far the best translation and is accepted.

It should be the default translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/christineg116789

Why not neither tea or cafe.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_adger

You can use "neither... nor' or "either... or" but not "neither... or" .

However "either... or" is incorrect in this case too.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

… but "not either … or" is correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Derek276530

Unnatural English, can one really trust that the French is better? A vast amount of Duolingo English is not really very good.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Derek276530

Poor, unnatural English. Plus ca change...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mac7jb

that's the way it should be


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dianna1808

This is very clumsy English. 'There is neither herbal tea nor coffee, only beers' is much more comfortable


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Allosailor

"There is neither" is perfectly good grammar.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BarbaraSti2

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....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

So if you're happy to fetch a choice of beers, why aren't you happy to offer a choice of beers?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cheryliiina

Nobody says either tea or coffee. You'd either say, there's neither tea nor coffee OR there isn't tea or coffee. Either sounds like there's one of the two.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cheryliiina

As far as the plural, if it's countablw servings, it has an s. If not countable, as in this case, no s. The "either" thing annoyed me more. Nobody talks like that. Not in the US or England anyway. I've seen it several times in these lessons.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cheryliiina

As far as the plural, if it's countable servings, it has an s. If not countable, as in this case, no s. The "either" thing annoyed me more. Nobody talks like that. Not in the US or England anyway. I've seen it several times in these lessons.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PcMl4UTC

In the US, we don’t say only beers….it’s beer. And I don’t think that using neither and nor is archaic, it’s just grammatically correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GraemeSarg

So if they only have Bud or Miller Light, there's still only one choice of beer?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrendanDoo4

So so so so so wrong. Duo is starting to suck

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