"Nous sommes des hommes":
- In this case, "des" is an indefinite article and implies that there is no article before the noun in English, but sometimes it can also be translated into "some" (ex: "J'ai des pommes" means "I have apples" or "I have some apples").
"We are men":
- In this case, you have to add the indefinite article "des" before the noun.
Please have a look at this link about contracted articles: "du", "de la", "de l'", "des", and "de":
It's like that in a lot of other languages, definitely in spanish. This is my first crack at french and I have to say I really appreciate the benefit of this grammar rule during listening comprehension. In order to recognize the difference between certain words that otherwise sound similar, the pronunciation differences in the articles makes it much clearer. Like pluralization - femme and femmes are homophones, but the difference between la and les is the only way I can tell which it is.
I don't know for sure but... I think in French it's necessary to give every noun an article, even if in english that noun doesn't need it. If it's singular, you have to use "un" or "une"(as in "un homme" or "une pomme"); if plural, "des"(as in "des enfants") and if uncountable, "du"(as in "du lait").
"sommes" can be a conjugated form of two verbs:
2nd person singular of "sommer" = "you add up"
1st person plural of "être" = "we are".
In the conjugation table (top left of the window), you can choose the verb that you want, either "sommer" or "être".
(FYI, "sommes" is also the plural of "somme" = "nap", and the plural of "somme" = "sum").
I'm confused about the difference between sommer and etre. Are they two forms of the same verb or two different verbs that mean the same thing? The conjugate button makes it look like they are both indicative verbs that are conjugated differently. Are they interchangeable? Sorry if I have this totally wrong.
Sommer and être are two different verbs with two different meanings. However, their conjugations can look similar since être is irregular. Être : je suis (i am) tu es (you are) il/elle est (he/she/it is) nous sommes (we are) ils sont (they are). Sommer: Je somme (i add) tu sommes (you add) etc.
"être" is used very frequently. It means the following:
"to be" : Je suis un homme. (I am a man.)
"être" is also used as an auxiliary in compound tenses, e.g. "Je suis venu chez toi." = "I have come at your place."
"sommer" is used quite rarely. It means the following:
"to summon", "order somebody to do something", or
"to add up"
Thank you! When I hovered over sommes and clicked on the conjugate button there was a tab for être conjugations and a tab for sommer conjugations. I didn't understand why it was showing both, but it makes sense now because sommes could be a form of either word depending on the context.
In this case, "des" is an indefinite article (plural).
It can be used to talk about an indefinite amount of things/persons, and it is the same for feminine or masculine.
Nous sommes des hommes. ("We are men") - FYI: the singular would be "Je suis un homme" (I am a man)
Nous sommes des femmes. ("We are women") - FYI: the singular would be "Je suis une femme" (I am a woman)
The partitive article "du" is used to talk about an indefinite amount of a singular thing, which is masculine and which starts with a consonant:
- Je mange du pain. ("I am eating bread")
The feminine singular of the partitive article is "de la":
- Je mange de la viande. ("I am eating meat").
If the noun (feminine or masculine) starts with a vowel, you have to use "de l' ":
Je bois de l'eau. ("I am drinking water") - "eau" is a feminine word in French
J'ai de l'or. ("I have gold") - "or" is a masculine word in French
"des" means "some of the" in some cases only:
- ex: "Il prend des fraises." can translate to "He takes strawberries", "He takes some strawberries" or "He takes some of the strawberries"
In the sentence "Nous sommes des hommes" ("We are men"), it makes no sense to translate it to "We are some of the men".
Indeed, if you use "some of the", it implies more context in the sentence:
- For example, "We are some of the men of this group." would translate to "Nous sommes une partie des hommes de ce groupe."