"I heard owls, but I didn't see them."

Translation:J'entendais des hiboux, mais je ne les voyais pas.

July 4, 2020

This discussion is locked.


je ne les ai pas vu?


That would be je ne les ai pas vus.


"j'ai entendu des hiboux, mais je ne les ai pas vus" is accepted.

I missed it the first time because I was sloppy and I also wrote "vu" but the second time I wrote "vus" and it was accepted.


but not accepted with imperfait + passe compase: j'entendais des hiboux mais je ne les ai pas vus


not accepted for me !


It didn't accept it today.


After literally years of studying French off-and-on, I thought I had finally achieved a fairly thorough understanding of the passé composé. And then I learned about this rule.

Just shoot me now.


It wasn't accepted now, Dec 31, 2021


Why does it have to be vus, not vu? You don't say "entendus" here if it has to use the plural


When the direct object comes before the verb and the verb is conjugated with avoir, then the past participle agrees in gender and number with the direct object.

J'ai vu les hiboux <- no agreement with direct object because it is after the verb

Les hiboux que j'ai vus <- there is agreement with the direct object because it is before the verb and conjugated with avoir.


Thanks I didn't know that.


Because when you are referring to what you saw in passé composé you are actually referring to an object, plural owls, therefore it should be in agreement with an object, and therefore to be Je ne les ai vus pas

When you are talking about heard it has to be in agreement only with the subject which is I.


Sounds like a good point


Is nobody else baffled by the concept of having two completely different words for "owl"?! How the hell did that happen?


It depends on whether or not the species in question has ear tufts. If it has them, c’est un hibou ; if it doesn’t, c’est une chouette.

How the hell did that happen?

I’m neither an etymologist nor a taxonomist, but I do know that animals (and plants) are often given their vernacular names in a pretty haphazard way, probably (IMHO) because most of them predate the scientific study of taxonomy. A name may refer to a single species (as with the members of the genus Panthera, the big cats—“lion” = P. leo, “tiger” = P. tigris, etc.); but my impression is that more often it will refer to a higher-level taxon, usually a genus (“pig” = Sus) or family (“bear” = Ursidae), but sometimes an even higher level (“owl” = the order(!) Strigiformes). Furthermore, a name may mean different things to different people depending on geographical or some other kind of context, or it may refer to various species across multiple genera, families, classes, etc.

Wiktionary says that hibou is “eventually imitative“—which I take to mean onomatopoeic—and might have a common ancestor with the English word “owl”; chouette is related to English “chough” (pronounced “chuff”), which in turn derives from an Old English word that also refers to a jay, jackdaw or crow. So make of that what you will.


Hibou used to be wrong on Duolingo. Only chouette was accepted.


There are similar situations in English. For example, the distinction between frogs and toads has no basis in scientific taxonomy. Neither does the distinction between slugs and snails. The names pick out animals based on how they look and act.


Thanks very much for your reply. Linguistics + Biology; awesome!


You are extremely inconsistent in the correct answers you claim : sometimes the imperfect and sometimes the past.


Sometimes the difference is implied in the sentence—the speaker may clearly be talking about something that happened at a certain point in the past (passé composé) or about something that used to happen or that was happening continuously (imparfait). In this case, though, I agree with you: either one should be accepted because the English sentence is ambiguous in that regard.


"J'ai entendu des hiboux, mais je ne les pas vus." not accepted. Any reasons why?


Thanks for explaining why vus and not vu. Another question: when is cet used before h, as in cet homme, but ce hibou?


It’s just a property of certain words that begin with h. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirated_h.


What about "je n'en voyais pas" ?


Why Duo does not accept the passe compose in this case?? "J'ai entendu des hiboux mais je ne les ai pas vu" Why...?


Why imperfect??

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