"Elle a de petits chiens."

Translation:She has small dogs.

December 16, 2012

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I did some research that may be helpful for those who wonder why de not des. In French, unspecific plural nouns generally have "des" before them. However, When the plural indefinite or partitive article is used with an adjective that precedes a noun, des changes to de.


Wow, could they make this language any more complicated??

Thanks for the explanation!!


Well if you speak English as your native language then is very likely you will find complicated any neo-latin language :)


Who the hell did create this language? LoL thanks for the explanation


You need to say: "Who in the hell created this language?" LOL, English is terrible, too!


You've got that right! I am a reading specialist (English), and teach dyslexic kids to read. For every rule that we have, we break. More than any of the Latin based languages. That is for sure!


lol - even for those of us who speak it naturally!


Pretty sure it was probably the french...


saw an example on the negation lesson: vous n'avez pas de chien. in this example there is no adjective and chien is not even plural. is there a logic behind this? thanks


Yes, there's a different rule in play in that example: the use of "de" with negative statements of possession.


Couldn't hear the plural.


I don't think you can hear plurals in French. You can only tell they are plural by the article that comes before them:

• Elle a un petit chien. (singular)

• Elle a de petits chiens. (plural)

The only change in pronunciation is the un/de.


isn't "de" singular and "des" plural?


When there are adjectives between "des" and the noun, "des" becomes "de" while the adjectives remain plural.


Thank you so much! This has been driving me crazy.


So would you say "des chiens petits" or "de petits chiens" and both be correct?


This is the infamous BANGS rule: Beauty Age Number Goodness Size go before the noun.

There is more to it than that however. Fuller explanation better than I could manage here:

Position of French Adjectives http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_4.htm


Thanks :)

Duolingo really should inform us of stuff like this, though. One shouldn't have to always ask somebody to know basic stuff like this.


They do explain all of this if you go to the unit on a web browser, or open it on your phone's browser. Scroll down to read.


Thank you very much. This is so helpful


Oh yes in this case a single one would have had un


Welcome to French enjoy your stay


I can't hear the difference between "de" and "des"


"Des" sounds like the English word "day". "De" sounds like a much duller "deh" sound. (At least to my ear.)


Run over to Google Translate and set it to French. Type in de and des and hit the speaker button. It will read the words back to toy and clarify the subtle subtle better than words here can.


The correct answer it gave me is "she's some small dogs" that makes no sense.


It is a known bug, a real nasty one, too. We are begging the owl to please fix it but so far no action has been taken. It stems from the notion that "she has" may be contracted to "she's" so now the owl spits out "she's" whenever "she has" is part of the answer, notwithstanding that "she's" is the standard contraction for "she is". Duolingo discourages contracting he/she/it has for this reason. Pandora has been let out of the box and the programmers and trying to get it back in again.


I assumed it was feminine, yet my translation was not marked correct.


You should be able to hear the difference between "petits" and "petites." Does that help?


See my comment below on the pronunciation differences between masculine and feminine.
In the masculine petits, the t isn't pronounced.
In the masculine chiens, the n isn't pronounced. :-)


I wrote "petites chiennes," and it said it was wrong. I thought it could be used either way.


There is a slight pronunciation difference between petits chiens and petites chiennes.
With the masculine petits we do not pronounce the final t. We also do not pronounce the n in chiens.
The final t is pronounced with the feminine petites and the n in chiennes is also pronounced.


And which is the preposition here?


I'm sorry but can anyone distinguishes the usage of 'de/du/de la' for me?


de = of
du = of the (masculine)
de la = of the (feminine)


why "elle a de"???? shouldn't it be just "elle a"??? Which means she has?


It seems strange that it's not "des", but then I guess "de petit chien" would make less sense ("she has some small dog"). Oh well.


Des becomes de in front of an adjective if des is being used as some.

Why, you ask? Because that is just the way it is.


merci beaucoup!


I've been wondering what that "de" was. It's just the "des" before an adjective. Simple. Thank you so much.

I almost googled something like that: "why french use prepostion "de" before adjective".... go figure..... heheh Many thanks again.


I wonder why 'little male dogs' (which sounds weird in conversational English I presume) is wrong here?



Please read the comment immediately above yours.


Exactly. You say so yourself, 'small, male dog', but they label it 'wrong'


Please read the entire sentence.

Petit chien/ small dog means a small, male dog OR a small dog of unknown gender.

Petite chienne means a small dog of known female gender.

Chien is inclusive of both male and unknown gender dogs. Chienne is exclusive of everything except female dogs.


Aha, so now I can see what you mean: the perfectly grammatically correct translation of 'elle a de petits chiens' would be something like 'she has some small dogs of unknown gender, possibly including some male dogs', for the 'small male dogs' would unreasonably exclude 'dogs of unknown gender'.
I know I'm slow, but not that slow it appears ;)


There is only the masculine designation or the feminine designation in French gender assignment. There in no neuter/ neutral available. Therefore when the gender is mixed,unknown or considered irrelevant, either the masculine or the feminine must be used to carry that information.

The French language, by custom, has assigned that dual role to the masculine. Some people object to this on principle. Some French speakers say that they and their friends don't conform to this practice. Some English speakers object to using the term chairman when the gender is unknown. Some insist on using a newly invented term chairperson, which they and all their friends use. Whatever floats your boat.

Duo will sometimes take a heart if you use the feminine form when the gender is unknown or mixed, sometimes not. But they will never take a heart if you use the masculine form.Some French speakers may say that you confused them if you use the feminine form to describe a mixed gender or unknown situation. But they will never say you confused them by using the masculine, no matter what region or social circles they travel in.


Is it just me, or do you find it hard to notice that its a plural? I couldn't hear the indication, even though I am in the plural section :3 Its still impossible in my opinion to hear the difference


If you have an adjective, des (pronounced "day") is switched to "de" (pronounced "deh"). How do you know it's plural? If it was singular, it would be UN petit chien.

I think this is right... I'm only level 7 French, so take this with a grain of salt!


Why does petit precede a noun?


Some adjectives go before a noun. Just remember BANGS: Beauty, Age, Numbers, Good/Bad, and Size. Verbs describing those things precede nouns. http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_4.htm


The solution it gave me was "She has got small dogs." Where do the get 'got' from?


British English often uses "has got" whereas US English uses "has". Choose which one you use but don't be put off if you see it shown the other way.


i don't get it. Why 'de' is translated to 'got'? can somebody help me understand this.


It is not. Please read the posts above regarding "de". British English often uses "has got" whereas US English uses "has". Same thing for different versions of English.


Why "des petits chiens" is not correct?


This question has been answered many times above.


@NorthernGuy, @Scott Starkey: I agree with SA_Mills' comment above and have not found sufficient information from reliable sources to help me understand your explanations. Do you have any sources you can suggest for consultation, please? Thank you in advance.

F.Y.I.: Since there seem to be discrepancies, confusion and inconsistencies about the subject, "She has small dogs" was accepted as a correct response 14·SEP·2015 and "She has some small dogs" given as an alternate response suggestion.


The "some" is optional in English. Both "She has small dogs" and "She has some small dogs" are equivalent in English.


I was told in a previous lesson, that chiennes is feminine and chiens is masculine.. so Why is chiens used here and not chiennes??


"Dog" can be translated as "le chien" or "la chienne". The first refers to a male, the second to a female. So "She has small dogs" might be either "Elle a de petits chiens" or "Elle a de petites chiennes". The words "male" and "female" are not used in translating the French.


Fyi typo: should be 'des'


No. The reason that it is "de petits chiens" is because the "des" is changed to "de" when there is an adjective before the noun. It is an invariable rule.


Now im really confused, i always thought du/de means "some" , je bois du jus = i drink juice, like in this sentence, de means some, so is it the same word having other meanings as "of/from/in" ?


The word "de" can be used in several different ways. Context will tell you which it is.


Just wondering why i love french language so much?! De des whatever i love you


The translation i got was nonsense "she's small dogs"


Why not des petits chiens


des becomes de because des is followed by the adjective petites. If the sentence were She has dogs (without the adjective) it would be des chiens


Why is "she has small dogs" wrong? I was told I used the wrong word and should have said "she owns small dogs".


saw an example vous n'avez pas de chien. can anyone example the de in this case


Why is there "petites" & "chiennes" in "les petites chiennes mangent" & here there"s "petits" & "chiens"?


Chien and Chiens are singular and plural male dog(s) respectively. Chienne and Chiennes are singular and plural female dog(s) respectively. The adjective 'petit' conjugates based on the gender and number (singular/plural) of the noun.

  • le petit chien (the small male dog)
  • les petits chiens (the small male dogs)
  • la petite chienne (the small female dog)
  • les petites chiennes (the small female dogs)


why not chiens petits


Because PETITS (small) falls into BANGS adjectives (Beauty, Ages, Numbers, Goodness, Size) which come before the noun.


CAPTAIN: look at these three: "des chiens", "des chiens blancs", but "de petites chiens". A rule states that 'des' turns into 'de' if there is an adjective between it, the indefinite aritcle, and the noun (all words useable with the 'the' article, i.e. the apple, the thoughts, etc).

Indf. Article + noun (+ adjective) = des chien (blancs) Indf. Article + adjective + noun (+ adjective) = de petits chiens (blancs).

I hope this helps!


*I misspelled: 'petites' (plu. fem.) should be 'petits' (plu. mas.)


de vs deux. Is there going to be a noticeable difference? I always hear this as she has two small dogs (Elle a deux petits chiens.)

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