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  5. Il mange vs ils mangent?


Il mange vs ils mangent?

I can't hear a difference, is this normal or the way the artificial voice is saying it?

May 8, 2012



There is strictly no pronunciation difference, but you should know by context if you are hearing about one person or thing, or several. The same goes for "elle mange" and "elles mangent". That said, Duolingo ought to accept both answers when transcribing ... I guess just be patient until they figure out the beta quirks.


Yes, that is true! Just had a question like that, but duolingo is still in the early stages. Hopefully there will be an improvement.


Bonjour... the question is from one your ago, and I have the same gripe. It should be fixed by now, because it's unnecessarily frustrating.


Oui, I have the same problem. Find it difficult to differentiate.


They do not accept both for answer. Its a freaking nightmare


It's especially annoying because the sentences can be pretty unnatural-sounding regardless, so context means nothing.


The main problem I sense is that users become frustrated when Duolingo asks for a translation or transcribing of one of two phonetically identical grammar points, absent of any context. And I think that's the main issue: the lack of context, which is a defining feature at the very heart of any linguistic exchange. Duolingo's sysyem of repetition, given the infinitely patient computer-teacher, is great. Yet, there is a divide between the online and offline 'life' of the language... Pragmatically speaking, when Duolingo asks a phonetically ambiguous question in cases like this, it may suffice to simply put in bold / red / asterisks "plural" or "singular" (similar to what magdalicious wrote). I don't think this constitutes 'cheating' in any real sense or detracts from the quality of instruction...


This is further compounded by the fact that often in French pronunciation, certain end sounds which are normally clipped (such as the "s" in "ils") are pronounced when followed by a word beginning with a vowel; however, the computer voice says each word individually, as opposed to as part of the sentence as a whole, so that important linguistic distinction is lost.


Might be me, but that case applies when you click on slow pronunciation. When I click on the normal/quick voice. I heard the Artificial voice joins the sounds. maybe, just maybe they updated..


That is no surprise that the computer voice cannot do liaison by itself, but it can be programmed into the phrase, so that "ils ont" comes closer to "ils zont", and "vous avez" sounds more like "vous zavez"


There is no difference in this case. However, a very typical feature of the French language is the liasons - sort of like contractions, where you phonetically link two words if one ends in a consonant and the other begins in a vowel. So, "ils sont," is normally pronounced "eel sohn," but "ils sont en train." would be "eel sohn Ten train"... The English parallel is like a and an: a car, aN apple.


It may be a regional thing, but when English words begin with a vowel and follow the article "an," I pronounce the vowel in the same manner as the French pronounce an aspirate "h." So "an apple," sounds just like that, rather than "uh napple."


the thing is one question might ask you to translate "he eats the apples" and "they eat the apples". they both sound the same in french. "il mange les pommes." and "ils mangent les pommes." there's no clear way to distinguish if they want the singular person or multiple. i always seem to have the wrong one.


I made the same question to one of my friends who speak french, he answered: "No, you can't hear any difference, french is an evil lenguage"


i love that explanation


It's been answered, but in most cases with the regular -er verbs the verb pronunciation for il/elle and ils/elles is exactly the same. I suggest that duolingo add something to indicate if the answer they are looking for is plural or singular, a hint, picture, or even another sentence to put it in context. They are women. They are eating rice. (fun program though, it's helping with my spelling)


As many people have already stated, there is no vocal difference in mange and mangent. Because of this, you have to use contextual words to find out how the word was conjugated. For example, we know that the verb "manger" (to eat) becomes "mangent" when it is appended after "ils" or "elles" (gender "they"). From this, if we hear words that can only apply to groups of people after hearing "il" or "elle", we can figure out the difference. For example the sentence: "Ils ont mangé des pommes" "They have eaten some apples"

We know from the "ont" that we are referring to a group and what they "have" done (which is eating). Therefore, when we hear it "mange" must end with ent. There are infinitely more examples, but that is the basic idea: use surrounding verbs, adjectives, and endings to determine the only possible conjugation.


Four years of high school French 46 years ago that I thought had been washed away with age, etc. However, Duolingo is bringing it all back. Didn't realize those memory cells were still there. In fact, I'm learning more about conjugation here then I did back then. It's presented much better, I believe. Having said that (and considering that this is beta and they want our thoughts), my only problem is with the artificial voice diction. I was constantly mistaking "pomme" for "pain", for one example, and others as noted above. Slower setting doesn't really help. I think if Duolingo can rectify the voice issue, they have a teaching tool here that's really incredible. I've learned much already and I intend to continue, voice issues or not. Great website, and I thank the authors for making it available to us.


Your problems are perfectly normal and I'm sure are experienced by all students of the French language. The two are indeed pronounced exactly the same, the only discrimination being context (usually supplied in conversation). You'll get the hang of it! :)


I believe the actual issue here is answered by the skill tree. In Basics 2 they are introducing plurals, thereby expecting you to skew towards the plural version rather than the singular. That said it would be nice if—as in the case of French, when the audible language pronunciation is identical between singular and plural—the question indicated whether the expected answer was to be one or the other; particularly when the simple structure of the sentence alone is not enough to indicate which is expected. Hopefully this will be resolved by the time the (Beta) comes off.


I have the same frustration, but am still finding the overall "system" to be pretty good so far. the problem with small phrases is we have no context. Just like with sign language, which I also studied, the signs are the same but the direction they are gestured changes the intent. So if you just saw the sign, static, you read it one way and when you see it in a conversation with direction and context, it reads differently. Interesting stuff, linguistics. Thank heavens we're not trying to learn Japanese this way!!


I think Duolingo is a great tool, but I would still benefit from a book of rules or a short orientation that explains some of the differences between French and English. I'm relatively new to French and didn't know that "mange" and "mangent" were pronounced exactly the same until I read this thread. It would have saved me a lot of anxiety to know that in advance.


I read through that, but my question is about pronunciation. I'm having a difficult time discerning the two phrases in question. My ears hear the same exact thing (say when my eyes are closed) even though I see it written differently and understand that they have different meanings?

Sorry if I was vague and thanks in advance.


I've had some problems with the way some words are spoken as well (as in, not running words together that should, like "Je suis un homme" should sound like "Je swee - zuhn homme") but it helps to take context hints from the rest of the lesson


What they need to do is crowdsource the recording of the audio samples. Would clear up a lot of confusion.


Totally understandable. I'm 100% new to French and for the most part I think it is working pretty well.


Surely the issue here is that verb conjugation is not being properly taught by Duolingo...


I studied (well, suffered, at the time) 8 years of french in grade school. It's just sorta maddening, but you eventually get used to it. Think of it like there, their, and they're.


@George That is good advice for some situations, but in this case listening to it a million times on any speed (slow or fast) won't make any difference given that this question is asking about the pronunciation difference and determining the difference from listening to " il mange and ils mangent" because they are pronounced exactly the same way. :)


Like others have said, Duoling needs to give us a hint about the contex of the sentense when they sound exactly the same.. That being said, I had no previous knowledge of French, ('oui' perhaps is the only word I knew) and I think that the system is working very well with me.


what would make this really nice and easy would be to use pictures as well as texts... so for example a picture of two men eating apples would be very easy to distinguish the difference. HOWEVER, im not complaining as its a terrific website! :)


Gersois - Elles always refers to an only-female group. So out of context, it would imply 'they (the women)'. Similarly, if someone said "elles" while referring to a group of mixed gender, they are referring only to the women in that group. Otherwise, even in a group with 9 women and just 1 man, one should actually use "ils". This question should've been posted in a new thread though..


Elles should generally be translated simply to "they" unless overt contextual information is necessary. Is Duolingo marking it wrong if you just write "they"? You don't need to say "the females" because that's already implied in the word.


Hmm, that's true. You could say "the women", though I still think "they" is acceptable even from Fr. to En. Either I suppose!


There's no difference between mange and mangent. The difference exists only in the writting area.A good way to understand and remember this thing is to practice with regular verbs (verbs that in infinitive ends in "er") So conjugate them, and practice with it.


You say both the same.


I have the same problem...:(


Unless there is liason there, the phrases sound identical( or Duolingo went weirdo!)


they are pronounced the same.


No, there is no pronunciation difference between "il mange" and "ils mangent," you have to go by context. It's like they're, there, and their or two, to and too - it's contextual.


There isn't any difference, you just need to look for the context if it is plural or singular :P


It's the same pronunciation!


kind of lol right


It sounds the same.


Oh yes. You might not noticed. However, Mange has a little more sound. If I'm not wrong(whoever knows better this correct me if please too) the "E" gives a sound to the "G" is not like "LLEEEE" but is a quick "LLE" meanwhile, mangent ends with a sound similar to "shhhh" or the propper sound of the "g". je sais that the coment is more than 400 days old, but might help any other who might come.


all over, it depends on the person and their pronunciation, but you should be able to know by the context even if their is no aural difference. :/


No, there is no difference in the pronunciation between the singular "il mange" and the plural "ils mangent," they're homophones, like most of the words in French :) I am a French major and I tutor French at my university, trust me, it's a pain to explain this concept to anyone. In speech, you can only infer if it is "il" or "ils" from the context of the conversation, there is no phonetic difference...


Can you help me when will we use mangeons and mangent. I donnt understand so much. Can you give me an example


I don't detect a pronunciation difference, so it is quite annoying when Duolingo marks it wrong when there is really no way to tell.


Ok, so they both sound the same for "He eats.", and "They eat." But is the "t" in mangent still silent when followed by "une pomme" ?


My French tutor explained it to me. There's no difference in pronunciation. You're supposed to figure it out by listening to the context.


I agree, I cannot discern which is which. Any ideas? Charc


Singular or plural? I can't know which is the difference when they dictate it.


It's normal. But just remember to say it right or people won't know what you're talking about! :P :)


Granted I don't have a fifteen year olds hearing, but even listening carefully in tortoise mode I still caught out with singular and plural ! I think "ricainrico" goes some way to helping, but I still think Duo needs to accept both...


I guess we just have to put up with Duolingo forcing one solution that's partially correct. It's one of those areas where gendering creates more confusion.


It's normal. You don't pronounce the ending.

  • 11

Suggestion 1:

Make an illustration to accompany audio only 'type in french' questions so that "he eats the apples" and "they eat the apples" (french. "il mange les pommes." and "ils mangent les pommes.") are easier to distinguish. It's one of the more stupid aspects of written French, in a classroom environment - you'd have a picture, why not here?

Solution 2:

If putting too many pictuers together is difficult (copyright/workload etc) - plurals used in audio transcription questions, should have a warning flag come up saying "PLURAL FORM" or some such crap.

PROBLEM SOLVED. I see no problem in giving a visual cue of some sort, you'd have one in real life to tell the difference between them/they etc.


This is normal. The "s" is silent. The conjugation of the verb lets you know that it is more than one person or thing. This is very important if you are writing. Il mange (if one male is eating), ils mangent (if more than one male is eating or if a mixed group of males and females are eating.


Il is singular male and ils is plural boys or boys and girls (elles is strictly plural girls).


ricainrico Thanks, I needed to hear that.


@rsairu sorry yes I realised that belatedly but the thread topic had wandered a bit by the time i got to the bottom!

I know that "elles' refers to all female group, so when asked to translate it here I said "the females" rather than "they".


But I'm translating to English where the gender is lost if i just say they. Presumably if the gender wasn't necessary then "ils" is used.


They sound same, what matters is the subject word, it decides whether it becomes mange or mangent


The schwa, or "uh," sound is slightly more audible at the end of "ils mangent" when spoken conversationally, but technically their should be no difference in pronunciation.


Magnent is plural. Look at boit and bois and buvez and all those meanings. They have the same meaning. Draw up a chart one for mange and one for boit. Create two columns, single and plural. Now make three rows for first person, second person and third person. Put each word in it's box.Then use the noun in the sentence to determine which meaning to use. I've tried it. It works.


the difference is that mange is the conjugation for je,il and elle mange but mangent is the conjugation for vous mangent. So basically they are all conjugations. the pronunciation only has a slight change mange is mange and mangent is pronounced mangaaaaayye and mange is singular and mangent is plural


There is a slight inflection on the end of mangent. In stead of mange (monge) it is (monge-ah), but the "ah" or "uh" sound at the end of mangent is really light and almost just like a breath, nearly unintelligible if you aren't looking for it. It's really not even there though most of the time, so in real life you'll get it from context.


wow I didn't expect this would lead to a lot of opinions


Il mange (eel monge) and ils mangent (eel monge). No there is no pronunciation difference. "Ils" NEVER pronounce the "s" and in all verbs that end with "ent" DO NOT pronounce "ent." Examples, ils buvent (eel boov), ils regardent (eel ray-gard), ils pensent (eel ponse). They drink. They watch, They think.

Remember= ils is used for more than one person masculine. Even if you are speaking about three girls and one guy use "ils" BUT if you are speaking about ONLY three girls use "elle."


il mange is he eats and ils mangent is more than one boy is eating


This is normal. For the last year in this thread many have been saying they sound the same. That situation has not changed.


Absolutely agree with tommorris... I have so far learned nothing of verb conjugation, and I am playing guesswork here!


How do you know when "elles" means "they" or "the females (amongst them)"?


It its both, but ells has to be a group of ALL girls, so use ils if even one boy is involved, because French is sexist


no, its a bit of both, I speak franglais and I know that its hard to tell the difference (franglais is a mix of French and English) I agree with ricainrico about context though, that's an important part, like, robe is feminine so if you hear le or les, it can only be les


They will sound the same only because of the same pronoun, and the same verb. "Il" is singular, where-as Ils is plural.

  • 602

This is common in French; in several other languages you CAN hear a difference, even without subject pronouns.


their is no difference but "ils mangent" is for plural ,you have to understand the meaning of the sentens

  • 52

See 2 comments down, same question is being discussed.


A good way to distinguish between different pronunciations is to listen to the phrases in the "slower" mode. The words are much easier to distinguish in "slow" mode, and with time you will learn to distinguish phrases in "normal speed" mode.

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