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Ils mangent vs Il Mange

Are "Ils mangent" and "Il mange" homophones? Do they sound the exact same? Duolingo wanted me to transcribe the former, and I typed the later. I'm not sure if they should sound different, or if the platform should mark either answer as correct (which it does not currently do).

May 8, 2012



Does anyone else think homophones should get a typo mark instead of completely wrong?


That wouldn't help you learn though, since there are cues to telling the difference and this would help you in real life situations. I like that it marks it wrong, you can always try again and listen to the slow version to figure out if it's singular v plural.


But with these two phrases, there is literally no difference in pronunciation (nor should there be), so it is impossible to hear the difference, unless there is something more in the sentence revealing the number of people.

In real life context, you'll know if you're talking about a single person or multiple people based on earlier parts of the conversation. But when you just take these two phrases out of context, you can not tell the difference.


I also think so, its really frustrating to lose a heart because the program was speaking correctly. Normally I just listen to the slower version.


remember that the objective is to learn the language and not just pass the level. If they put it as a typo you wouldn't care so much (not as much as losing a heart) and therefore would not give the mistake the proper attention (at least most people wouldn't)


It is not a typo because the sentence is translated in singular form when it meant otherwise. I made the same mistake too.


I agree. The "Ils mangent" and "Il mange" is like saying they eat and he eats. It is like a conjugation. Therefore, it is not really considered a typo because in English it is not a typo if you say they eat instead of he eats because the 2 statements are different in meaning and spelling.


Ils/Il, Elle/Elles are homophones unless the following sound is a vowel in which case the otherwise silent s of the plural forms are pronounced as 'z' (french consonant liaison).

I think 'mange' and 'mangent' are likewise homophones. I don't know if they are ever pronounced differently.

As far as I can tell, the question is broken and needs to accept both answers.


mange and mangent are indeed homophones iirc


Yep, "mange" and "mangent" are pronounced exactly the same. Indeed the question needs to accept both.


As a rule, the PLURAL MARK "-ent" ON A VERB in French is never pronounced. So yes, "Il mange" and "Ils mangent" are homophones. But please note that "-ent" CAN be pronounced for other kind of words, like adverbs : "facilement" "inutilement"...etc




There is no need for typo, if the excercise is oral, both answers should be accepted. As I said, even French people could not tell wether it's singular or plural by ear.




I'm sorry but the difference that you hear (if you heard correctly) on Duolingo is due to the synthesized voice. There is absolutely no difference between "ils mangent" and "il mange" by ear.


"As a rule, the PLURAL MARK "-ent" ON A VERB in French is never pronounced."

I've been using that as a rule.. but what about "Mangent-elles ..." doesn't the liaison rule force the pronunciation of at least the the final "t" of mangent? It sounds like "Mange telle ..."


you are right, you would hear the 't' in mangent-elles. Amazingly, the singular construct uses a 't' to help the pronunciation: mange-elle is incorrect, it goes mange-t-elle, and sounds exactly like its plural equivalent.

You will hear a difference however, if you keep the non-interrogative form and happen to have a liaison there:

il mange au restaurant, ils mangent_au restaurant (liaison where i added the _, 't' is pronounced)


I find it weird, that one would need the -t- in mange-t-elle. to me mange-elle sound just fine and fluid. Like "mon gel". You don't put a t between the g and the -el ^^ Do you know more about this? Why the t is needed and why it is a t and not a s,z,k. It is so random to me.


It's not random when you remember that French grammar is very rigid, and that liaising consonants are an important aspect of the grammar. Because 3rd person singular verb forms that don't end in T or D lack a consonant, the T gets added to maintain liaison when the forms are inverted: "elle mange" becomes "mange-t-elle?" vs. "elle dit" becoming "dit-elle?" (the consonant is already present).


I'm actually pretty impressed by the voice they use. Even a couple years ago, the script to text programs around the internet just sounded out each letter. This one is almost always right.


Google translate's voice is better IMO. When in doubt I type the sentence there and press the listen button. It's a nicer ad more correct voice to my ears. But Duo's voice is ok.

  1. "Ils mangent" and "Il mange" are mostly homophones. To my understanding, there is slightly more exaggeration of the L in Ils, and the G in mangent. If in doubt, I click the "slower" voice so that I can tell which version they are using. The voice does a surprisingly good job of differentiating, so I don't think the platform should mark it a typo (though it is probably a common mistake).
  2. There are all sorts of exceptions for pronunciation rules, but in general, if you have a word starting with a vowel directly after a word with a "silent" ending (i.e. 'ent'), you usually pronounce the ending. Hope this helps!


yes in this case you pronounce the "t" but not the "en". But I can't really explain all the exceptions because French is a language with a ton of exceptions. As a global rule, when the last letter is a "t" and the next first letter is a vowel, you pronouce the "t", otherwise you don't. ex : Ils sont arrivés (pronounced). Ils sont chez eux (not pronounced).


This rule certainly also has exceptions, but I can't think of any right now. Anyway, if you speak with French people, you will notice that we are not really strict on liaisons.




Well, I'm French and I never heard any difference between the two, whatever the accent people had, but I don't know all different French accents so maybe somewhere they make it sound different, though I would not understand why.


From an Ontario viewpoint: Comparing "Il" to "Ils", "Ils" will have a slightly longer L and "mange" vs "mangent" has more emphasis on the G, as mentioned above. It is pretty subtle and can be heard in the voice questions.


Thanks both! That's what I had thought. I reported my answer as correct so hopefully DuoLingo updates it.


Yes it's quite annoying that duolingo doesn't know that one cannot hear the difference...


They sound the same, but you should be able to tell which one based on its context in sentence.


depending on the question, there are sometimes ways to differentiate the two by using clues in the sentence


In real life they are a little tiny bit different, and I hear it in the duolingo recordings too. Yes there are no extra sounds at the ends of the words, but with ils mangent there is a tiny space after the word before the next word begins. Kind of like (this is exaggerated) il-uh mange-uh. But with il mange each word goes directly to the next word without any pause. Hope that helps a little.


youve got better ears than me, but thanks for clarifying.


Glad I am not the only one. Just had to hope for the best but really could not hear any difference between the two.



All the native french speakers I know do have a slight difference when they say it. But maybe it's a regional thing.


I lived in a country with a language different than my native one, and i found that sometimes, just sometimes, native speakers utter sounds differently in one context or another and are not aware of it. Cannot be made aware of it, at times. Case in point: Americans and t's. They barely pronounce the 't' in certain words, to the point that it sounds softer than your average 'd' to me (mountain, bottle, wanted...), and i could not for the life of me convince any of them that this was true. I got a couple of "yeah maybe it's a bit softer in that word", but had a strong feeling that there was mostly the wish for a change of topic. It makes the sound very difficult to mimic!

So anyway, maybe this is another example (i'm a native speaker of french and cannot imagine hearing a difference between il mange and ils mangent)


The thing you bring up about Americans and soft t's is very true. In "mountain", for instance, we (or at least the region I live in) use a glottal stop. Instead of sounding out the t, we kind of stop the air in the back of our throats to make a very soft "t" sound, and it usually comes out sort of like "moun-nn"


This video does a much better job of describing it.


>Does anyone else think homophones should get a typo mark instead of completely wrong?

That might be hard to code, but they could probably do it for this situation.


They both sound exactly the same. I also had the same mistake as you.


And just to annoy me, the computer voice just pronounced the "ent" ending of "écrivent" in "Les hommes jeunes écrivent des lettres."


the 'g' in 'mangent' is pronounced slightly more guttural and longer than in 'mange'. It is hardly noticeable for a listener to hear in normal speech.


There is a difference in the way the "le" (singular) and "les" (plural) are pronounced. This way, I can tell whether to type "le garçon mange" or "les garçons mangent", for instance.

It's hard to explain the difference in pronounciation between "le" and "les" in English because it's not my mother tongue, but I'll try... "le" ends with "-uh", and "les" ends with "-is".

[deactivated user]

    yes they do sound the same


    "Il" is pronounced kind of like "eel" and "ils" is pronounced more like "ees". It can be confusing, and the two "mange" conjugations above do sound the same, it just takes practice.


    I have several times thought, "how the heck am I supposed to know the difference here" and every time realized that there were some contextual clues that would've told me if I should type it as plural or singular (even though they sound the same).


    They are supposed to sound the same.


    yes, they sound the exact thing, you determine the meaning through context.


    "ils mangent" is in plural "il mange" singular (mangent is only plural with Ils/elles) hope this can help you :)


    They are homophones. You get the difference just by the context.


    They are homophones. One can only tell the difference by either the context of the rest of the statement, or seeing it written. I agree that the system is lacking in marking the response incorrect without the benefit or either more being said, or in written form.


    It is really hard to understand if it is plural or not when the persons speaking. They should give you a second chance!


    Ils mangent and Il mange are indeed homophones and unless the question is phrased with enough data that allows one to know whether the conjugation is to be singular or plural, there is no way to tell the difference, even if one plays it "slow". "Il mange seul." (He eats alone) tells the listener that the conjugation should be in the sigular, while "Ils mangent ensemble" (They eat together) advises the conjugation should be plural. If the system simply says "Il mange" or "Ils mangment", it shoud accept either answer. In my opinion.


    I agree. They sound like homophones


    As long as you have it gramatically correct, i.e. don't write "Il mangent" or "Ils mange", both should be accepted.


    The forms of Je, Tu, Il/Elle/On, and Ils/Elles sound the same with most of the verbs. I am taking French as a class right now, and I can understand how annoying it can be with oral exams (such as Duolingo for the most part), so I would understand if someone were to ask for it to receive a typo mark rather than an incorrect mark. However, it takes a trained ear to hear the slight difference, despite the fact that the last consonant of a word is rarely pronounced in French. However, if you listen carefully to the word after "Ils" or the verb, you will hear the last consonant if the following word begins with a vowel. For example, "Ils mangent" sounds almost the same as "Il mange," but other verbs, such as être (to be), the term "Ils ont" will sound like "Il sont." This is an example of when you will hear the "s" in "Ils." I hope that you found this to be helpful. c:


    It means that you differenciate them by context. Guess so.


    I have a incredible difficult in these forms. Thanks good some one find out my problem. It starts enoing me


    Actually can hear difference only here (t sound) Ils mangent une banane.


    Yes, context clues would be great, but often there is no context clue. Or an incorrect one - such as when a group of people are eating an orange, or several people own a single dress. I am sure in real life context is helpful, but here in the land of Duolingo it is often just confusing.


    well duolingo should accept any answer that'd be correct in a reasonably probable context. When they don't, make sure you 'report a mistake', they fix these things very quickly :)

    In real life, lacking context is the responsibility of the speaker...


    Yep, they're homophones. -ent at the end of a verb conjugated for the ils or elles is silent, always.


    I can't remember now how the program says it, but typically the difference between il/ ils and their verbs can be heard in the last pronounced consonant. So in "Il mange" the -g sound is short and succinct. However, in "Ils mangent" the -g sound is drawn out longer. It is difficult to hear these little differences at first, but the more you hear the more you will notice and pick up on little distinction like these.


    Exists a very subtle difference on the pronunciation, but a mistake should be considered a typo!


    ils mangent is for 3rd person and mange is for 1st person.


    yes.. the same problem for me


    I have made mistakes like that myself.


    I agree with minawasena


    you can use context clues, like if it sais the plural of another word in the sentence


    No. Ils mangent means "They eat (masc)" il mange means "heat eats"


    They do sound the same, but Ils mangent means they eat, and il mange means he eats.


    it is quite annoying


    Yes they are homophones. Ils mangent means " They are eating" and Il mange means " You are eating".


    Yes, they are homophones. Depending on the context, both should be correct. But till now that situation hasn´t showed up for me


    Thank you for your information but, my question is : is it correct to use mangent or mangent(s) with plural subjects Ils/Elles?

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