"Je rêverais d'être un chat pour voir dans le noir."

Translation:I would dream of being a cat in order to see in the dark.

July 15, 2020

This discussion is locked.

[deactivated user]

    When I read Duo's English, I assume that it's someone reminiscing about their childhood. But that would be in the imperfect tense, je rêvais. I can't imagine a scenario where this sentence in the conditional makes any sense. Any thoughts?


    I suppose there is one scenario in which this sentence would make sense (although it's quite farfetched) ;

    When someone asks a question like: "What would you do if..."

    • You were told that all your dreams would come true?

    ....or questions of that sort


    Should be accepted if "in order" is left out


    Here it's helpful in English to have the "in order to", although I'd likely say "soI could see in the dark". But Duo is going to have a really hard time with that because the English in my sentence uses a conditional tense could, whereas the French doesn't conjugate the verb in the second clause in the sentence.

    But really the English is odd, because we would never say "I would dream of", we would say "I dream of being a cat so I could see the dark. This is the most natural, but is a reversal of where the conditional would/could is at in the French sentence. It appears that Duo is imposing French grammatical structure into the English.


    I would dream of being a cat so I could see in the dark.

    I think English "could" in the second clause forms the simple past tense that goes with the conditional "would" in the first clause. (Type 2 conditional)

    This is very confusing because the English modal verbs (both could and would) have very defective conjugations. The French verbs, OTOH, conjugate normally for greater clarity.

    Obviously, Duo is trying to sidestep this issue and I don't blame them!



    Scott nails this. These new lessons are imposing French grammar and word order on the English. I don't think that is helpful at this level (A2/B1?).


    Ask yourself what is the purpose of the "translation". Surely it is just to confirm that you understand what is being expressed in the French sentence, in which case the elegance, or otherwise, of the English is not greatly relevant.


    Sometimes the English is bad enough that it makes me wonder if I have understood the French, thinking "Huh, did I miss something here?"

    It's frustrating when the English is so bad that we have to guess how to "translate" a French sentence that we understand. It's awful for the many here who are not native English speakers; they are being taught bad English while they study French.

    It encourages the false idea that learning a foreign language is all about vocabulary but not grammar and idiom, and the ridiculous notion that you can map things word for word. If you read the comments frequently you will find hundreds of cases where a confused student is trying to force English structure onto French.

    It makes us question whether the given French is idiomatic. The answer is usually yes, but the native French speakers do find things that are poorly phrased or even wrong.

    It's bad form for a company whose mission is teaching language. They should be embarrassed.

    I would agree that nit-picking the English, which happens a lot, is pointless. But I strongly disagree with your implication that even grotesque translations are ok.


    I think the biggest problem is the inflexibility when Duolingo insists on its own bizarre wording and rejects more natural, accurate alternatives. My most irritating experience was with the the frequently repeated exercise, "Elle est définitivement française." Duolingo insists that this is rendered in English as "she is definitely French." ("Certainly" is rejected). So when I came to an exercise to translate into French, "she is definitely French" my response was, "Elle est définitivement française" WRONG! said Duo. The "correct" answer is "elle est certainement française". I reported it and dare say I'll get notified in a week or so so that my "suggestion" has been accepted but yes, interaction with Duolingo can be extremely frustrating. I just have to remind myself that the person behind it all is Al Gore-Rythmn, the world's leading exponent of the law of unintended consequences.


    Yeah, algorithms and tables. Someday maybe computers will do well with natural language, but that is far harder than was generally thought 50 years ago. Not gonna happen in my lifetime.

    Nice chatting with you. Have some lingots. Bonne journée.


    Actually, this particular sentence seems innocuous but it has a serious problem. It's critical to learn when to use the French conditional. That's hard. It typically maps to "would* but not always, as here. This translation encourages the wrong idea that choosing conditional vs. indicative is simpler than it is.

    Verb tenses and moods are difficult. I've read so many comments where students insist that "I have lived in Paris since 2005" must be "J'ai habité à Paris depuis 2005". The fix for that is not to use the English present tense but rather to get the student to understand how the forms differ and eventually to think in French so that the present tense feels natural with depuis.


    Great point in your first paragraph, LenReed.

    This is basically Type 2 conditional mood. From Resources for learning English:

    • "The type 2 conditional is used to refer to a time that is now or any time, and a situation that is unreal. These sentences are not based on fact. The type 2 conditional is used to refer to a hypothetical condition and its probable result. In type 2 conditional sentences, the if clause uses the simple past, and the main clause uses the present conditional."

    Further confusion is that the English modal verbs (would and could) are conjugated identically for past tense and for conditional mood. I don't blame Duo for wanting to sidestep the issue. Thank goodness the French is simpler and more logical!


    Again, disgusting voice. Can't fathom Duo's reasoning on that one


    The voice in this exercise is terrible. I really struggled to understand what was being said


    Did you report it?


    Can anybody understand that old man voice, sounds like he is gargling in French.

    [deactivated user]

      Attention: Dreaming of being a cat will not help you to see in the dark.

      Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.