"Il essaie de manger des légumes."

Translation:He tries to eat vegetables.

May 14, 2013

This discussion is locked.


Why is "de" necessary in this statement? Since manger is in the infinitive, we already have "to eat".


"Essayer de + infinitive" is the correct construction in French as "try to + verb" is the correct form in English.


Why does it mark me wrong when I type Essaye instead of Essaie


The rule:

Verbs ending in -ayer (like "essayer") have two possible conjugations with je, tu, il/elle/on and elles/ils. So, you can, interchangeably, use the "i" version (essaie/s/nt), or the "y" version (essaye/s/nt).

That difference is meant to accommodate pronunciation which can be different in various French speaking areas: [ ε ] ou [ εj ] ("essè" ou "esseille").

So you can use:

"J'essaie" or "j'essaye" - "tu essaies" ou tu essayes - "il/elle/on essaie" or "il/elle/on essaye" - "ils/elles essaient" or "ils/elles essayent"

However, with "nous" and "vous", you should use "y" because the sound [ j ] is maintained:

nous essayons [ εjõ ] vous essayez [ εjé ]

For verbs in -oyer ("nettoyer"= to clean), you have no choice, the "i" version prevails. Je nettoie, tu nettoies, il/elle/on nettoie [ netwa ]


This is an excellent explanation, thank you.

Can I ask, is one "more correct?" - is there an "official" or "posh" version of French, like there is "hoch-deutsch", in which one version of this conjugation/pronunciation is more acceptable?


There are indeed different levels of French, mostly depending on speakers" level of education.

However, "high-French" (no name for that, like hoch Deutsch) can be spoken with a large variety of accents if you consider different regions inside and outside of France.

What makes the difference is mainly grammar and syntax accuracy, on top of a wide vocabulary (no slang and use of synonyms to avoid repetitions), appropriate liaisons and enunciation (a minimum of contractions outside compulsory ones), plus, as a cherry on the cake, a careful use of idioms and fixed expressions (some are really cheap!).


I asked my Quebecoise friend and she said -aie is "nicer", yet my french prof teaches us aye.


When will this be fixed?


It was fixed a few weeks ago. So you can use either spelling now.


Thanks. That's good to hear but the spelling was refused today, 3/2/16.


Which was the exercise exactly?

If you got this in type what you hear, the "essaye" version cannot be accepted since the sound you hear matches "essaie".

"Il essaye" has a distinct Y sound at the end (like "vieille"), whereas "il essaie" ends with the -e sound (like "il sait").


Thanks. I don't recall which exercise exactly. That's a very subtle distinction.

When I tried the different spellings of essaye/essaie on Google translate, I heard no distinction. When I tried sait and vieille I did hear the distinction you referenced.

When I tried the essaie/essaye spellings on Forvo,com, I did hear the difference.

Thanks very much for the explanation.


'Il essaye" is not accepted now.


I wrote "He tries eating vegetables" and got it wrong. I know in English there is a difference between "try to do something" (attempt to do it, but perhaps be unable to do it), and "try doing something" (experiment with a course of action to see whether it's beneficial or not). Does French have the same distinction? If so, how would you say, "He tries eating vegetables" (as in, "He eats a few vegetables to see what the result will be")?


I think that nuance will need to be conveyed through another verb:

  • il tente de manger des légumes = he tries to eat (attempts) - no result is guaranteed
  • il essaie de manger des légumes (maybe with something else, like: "le plus souvent possible") = he tries eating (to see what the result will be)

And there is also the reflexive "s'essayer à + infinitive" which would be closer to "take the risk of doing something".

And other synonyms: - s'efforcer de + infinitive = endeavour, force oneself to, try one's best to - tâcher de + infinitive = make sure

In other words, "essayer de" is broad in meaning and nuances would mostly come from context or the choice of a more precise synonym.


Would "Ils essayent" be pronounced the same as the singular il essaye? (Am i even conjugating the plural correctly?)


In modern French, the Y has been replaced by a simple "i": ils essaient. (eh-s-ɛ)

However, some people (like me) still pronounce the Y. (eh-s-ɛy)


I got this question as a listening exercise and didn't hear the slow recording, so wrote: <il laissait de manger des legumes>. I believe they sound the same, is there a nuance I am missing?


You are right in terms of sounds, but "il laissait de manger des légumes" does not mean anything (he let/left to eat vegetables?)

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