"They wore their hats."

Translation:Ils ont porté leur chapeau.

September 3, 2013



I was under the impression that 'leurs chapeaux' would mean multiple people wearing multiple hats, and 'leur chapeau' would mean multiple people each wearing their own single hat. Can anybody clear this up? The English sentence could mean either in my opinion so it's not clear which response is intended for this question.

February 9, 2014


I went back and forth on this one as well...wouldn't "leurs chapeaux" be correct, given that even if each was wearing their own hat, there would be multiple hats present? Thus making "their" agree grammatically with the number of hats?

That is to say, "they wore their hat (ils ont porté leur chapeau)" implying communal ownership, as opposed to "they wore their hats (ils ont porté leurs chapeaux)" which implies multiple individually owned hats.

Ugh, my brain hurts now.

November 24, 2014


Your logic applies to the English, but not to the French.

In English, when we are thinking of several people, each wearing a hat, we see lots of hats and we say they are wearing their hats.

In French, they see several people each wearing a hat and they see one hat per person, so they say they are wearing leur chapeau

To say, "Ils portent leurs chapeaux" would be to suggest that each person is wearing more than one hat.

This is how I understand it, anyhow.

August 1, 2015


Duo is telling me that the right answer should have been this: Ils portèrent leurs chapeaux.

August 3, 2017


This question is in the passe compose module, and the listed answer here is currently "Elles ont porté leurs chapeaux." But I would expect it to accept the imperfect also -- I believe both could work.

February 2, 2018


How would you said that two people are wearing a shared item I. E. They are wearing their hat

October 20, 2017


Hello I am French and I confirm that what you say is true and is very well explained. You must have a very good level of French!

June 1, 2018


Ha. I see I was right to anticipate that DL would get this wrong. I put "leurs chapeaux" even though I knew it ought to be "leur chapeau".

This is getting complicated.

And possibly, some time in the future, DL will correct itself and we'll all get this one wrong for a while.....ha.

September 23, 2014


I know this is an old post (I'm using Duo on my phone, so I can't see how old) but "leur chapeau" is prescriptively correct and "leurs chapeaux" is descriptively correct (i.e. most people actually use it this way, and don't know about the prescriptive way).

May 7, 2016


Thanks CJDennis....

August 21, 2017


Duo now correctly prefers "leur chapeau", meaning that multiple people are each wearing a single hat. In the multiple choice, however, you must also choose "leurs chapeaux", since the sentence is ambiguous and could mean multiple people wearing multiple hats per person.

September 19, 2017


And now, four months later, the multiple choice (at least the one I got — perhaps they change) doesn't offer "leur chapeau", and the only correct answer is "leurs chapeaux".

Instead, it offers the mismatched "leur chapeaux" which it correctly rejects. I wish they would make up their mind on this topic.

February 2, 2018


The English sentence is ambiguous as it could mean they wore their own hats or they wore someone else's hats. For example:

The men wore their wife's hats. - They wore their hats. In this case I think the translation would be: Ils ont porté leurs chapeaux.

July 14, 2016


That's probably stretching it. If we just say "The men wore their hats", it is assumed that the men were wearing their own hats, since that is almost always the case. If we want to make it plain that they wore someone else's hats, we would say something like "The men wore their wives' (children's, etc) hats". But those scenarios are very unlikely.

May 28, 2017


I agree...there has been a few instances in here where the answer is wrong. Perhaps this is one of them?

May 29, 2018


Why can't it be "Ils portaient leurs chapeaux"?

June 28, 2015


'Ils ont porté leurs chapeaux' and 'Elles portaient leurs chapeaux' are different tenses, no? Why are they both accepted as an answer? Don't they mean different things?

October 22, 2014


Not necessarily. The two past tenses in French do apply to different notions of events, and can be translated somewhat differently into English, but there is a large overlap.

If we say in English "They wore their hats every Friday," the French verb would be the imparfait - Ils portaient leur chapeau chaque vendredi", but if we say "They wore their hats yesterday," the French would be the passé composé - "Il ont porté leur chapeau hier"

More information here: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/pasttenses.htm

August 1, 2015


Ok... I have read the whole thread and it isn't clear to me yet...

Are both answers accepted because of the ambiguity of the english sentence (one hat per person/multiple hats and multiple people) or is it just a matter of french people ignoring the original rule ???

November 4, 2016


Firstly, well done for reading the thread before replying! Secondly, well done for asking an intelligent question!

It would be very rare for someone to wear more than one hat at a time, so the sentence is talking about one hat per person. In English we use the plural "hats". In French we should prescriptively use the singular « chapeau », but most French people actually use the plural « chapeaux », so it is accepted too (descriptive usage).

Remember: rules exist to describe usage first, and only then to teach. When actual usage changes, the rules must change to follow suit.

November 5, 2016


According to my old Bescherelle book, 1984 edition:

Lorsque l'on peut penser qu'il y a un objet possédé pour chaque possesseur, on utilise plutôt le singulier :
Ils sont venus avec leur femme.
Ils ont mis leur chapeau.
Dans de tels cas, on peut cependant trouver "leur" au pluriel :
Ils sont venus avec leurs femmes.

As you can see, both forms were already prescribed in a grammar book of the 20th century...

Even L'Académie Française, the Guardians of the Sacred Language, says: L’usage des meilleurs auteurs hésite entre le singulier et le pluriel (pour le nom et pour le possessif) lorsqu’un nom désigne une réalité dont plusieurs « possesseurs » possèdent chacun un exemplaire : on considère tantôt l’exemplaire de chacun, tantôt l’ensemble des exemplaires.

So, both ways are definitely prescriptive.

March 7, 2017


Merci beaucoup pour ta explication!

May 29, 2018


Gran merci!

February 1, 2019


lovely response

December 9, 2016


I understand now. Thank you.

February 20, 2017


should it not be 'ils ont portes leurs chapeaux'

October 1, 2013


because we are using avoir (ont porté) as the auxiliary verb we do not need for the past participle to agree with the direct object

October 18, 2013


except you need to agree when using the definite article, I think.

ils ont porte leurs chapeux

ils les ont portes.

December 20, 2013

  • 1779

That's a little different. In the sentence, "Ils les ont portés", "les" is the direct object (them) and refers to "their hats". Because the direct object is BEFORE the verb using "avoir" as the auxiliary, the participle must agree with the direct object. This presumes that we know they were speaking about "leurs chapeaux" in the first place.

February 6, 2014


why not ses chapeaux'?

September 3, 2013


"Ses" is only used when you talk about multiple things belonging to one person. For example :

Il a porté ses chapeaux = he wore his hats.

Here, you are talking about multiple things, belonging to multiple persons, so you have to use the proper word which is "leurs" = "their".

September 3, 2013


why not 'elles portaient leurs chapeaux'?

July 31, 2015


Well, "elles" should be acceptable.

There is some discussion above regarding whether "leurs chapeaux" should be allowed, as it is not, in fact, the way the French would say this. Check it out.

Edit: and there is also a comment about using the imparfait, if that was what you were asking.

August 1, 2015


Is there a reason Ils ont mis leurs chapeaux is not accepted? On Memrise, they use mettre where I have learned porter on this site.

June 17, 2016


You put your hat on « mettre » before you wear it « porter ». On Duolingo they prefer not to use « mettre » to mean "wear", even though it is one meaning of the word.

June 18, 2016


Now both of them are accepted. Why?

July 4, 2016


Who are you replying to? Which two sentences are now accepted?

July 8, 2016


Both singular and plural..

July 8, 2016


Quick answer: historically, you are supposed to use the singular, currently most French people use the plural and aren't even aware of the singular rule. Therefore it's been decided to allow both on Duolingo.

July 9, 2016


I can catch the point now. Thanks.

August 25, 2016


Really? All that effort to get my head around they put up their HAND - and now you're telling me the French don't do it any more themselves?

Goodness. Ma foi! Zut alors!

Actually, what I want to say is meuf! - only I don't know how to spell that.

Any offers?


October 11, 2016


the correct answers given were "Elles ont porté leur chapeau., Ils ont porté leurs chapeaux." Why is it singular AND plural?

August 18, 2016


You can find the answer elsewhere on this page.

August 20, 2016



August 20, 2016


Could any body tell me which is the right answer? I my case DL counted my answer as wrong and showed that both sentences are correct. Would you explain me the grammar rules to be used in this sentence?

August 25, 2016


Both singular and plural are correct for different reasons. Please read the whole thread.

August 25, 2016


Why doesn't DL support these discussion! It is the blind leading the blind. Disappointing!

February 3, 2017


There are many helpers here with different levels of expertise. Sitesurf is probably the most respected contributor to the French course. Duolingo merely provides a means of learning. It's the community that helps you with your questions and frustrations. Do you have a particular question or difficulty that you'd like explained?

February 6, 2017


How is the "solution" to the recurring confusion on this exercise to make both "leur chapeau" and "leurs chapeaux" correct answers for the multiple choice?

February 8, 2017


Because both are correct for different and contradictory reasons.

February 8, 2017


I understand that they both technically work, but on a multiple choice exercise, it's idiotic to make them both correct answers. Anyone looking at the exercise will assume that the program wants you to make a choice between the two, unless they've had the good fortune to read this thread in advance of encountering the question. It's pointless and frustrating to teach that they're both correct in that context, especially since we've already had instances of only the singular being accepted prior to this exercise.

February 8, 2017


That's why it's multiple choice. You can choose more than one correct answer. Yes, you're likely to get it wrong the first time, but you're also likely to get it wrong if only one answer is marked correct since previously only the singular was accepted and in English we use the plural.

February 8, 2017


But that's exactly what I mean. In prior exercises, we've been exposed to the singular version for sentences like this to get used to the idea that we use that in French. If it isn't a rule, then don't teach it at all. If it is a rule, then don't teach us that it's regularly broken.

February 9, 2017


I just had a similar conversation about "may" vs "can" in English. Imagine if Duolingo taught that using "can" for permission was wrong and that you have to use "may". ("You can have an ice cream" vs "You may have an ice cream") Technically, that's correct, but almost everyone uses "can" instead of "may" nowadays. It's exactly the same for the singular and the plural in this sentence structure.

February 9, 2017


I'm am confused. chapeaux = hats & chapeau = hat ??? why is this multi answer ells ont porte leurs chapeaux & ells ont port leur chapeau. how can they both be correct?

February 17, 2017


This is well discussed at the top of this thread. A bit of context while reading it: Duolingo used to only accept the singular in French. Then they changed it to allow both singular and plural to reflect current use. This is why the comments can sometimes seem contradictory.

February 18, 2017


Having read the whole thread, I'm not sure why 'ils portaient leurs chapeaux' is incorrect. DL says the verb should have been portèrent? (I understand the discussion about singular and plural but this wasn't the incorrect part)

February 26, 2017


« Ils portaient leurs chapeaux » is in the imparfait and means "They were wearing their hats", also the imperfect in English. « Ils portèrent leurs chapeaux » means "They wore their hats", however, the passé simple is a form no longer in use in spoken French. You'll now only find it in literature. Duolingo has stated that they won't teach it, so it shouldn't have been offered as a correction.

In this course, they usually want you to translate the simple past ("They wore their hats") into the passé composé, « Ils ont porté leurs chapeaux » which is also "They have worn their hats".

February 26, 2017


After the lengthy exegesis on this page, I would logically point out that (almost) everything should be accepted. "They " is a word devoid of sexual connotation. Chapeau (x) is pronounced in a (correct) way so that the final "x" is muted.

I already stressed somewhere along these pages that it might be a good idea for DL to disambiguate all expressions. Interesting enough I wrote: "Ils ont porté leurs chapeaux" - and it was a target for the pink-salmon axe. Wrong. It corrected me as (...) leur chapeau.

May 26, 2017


Ils portaient leurs chapeaux - this is correct also?

June 3, 2017


hats is plural. option 3 souldn't be accepted.

June 7, 2017


why isn't it portée, as it's elles ?

July 20, 2017


That rule only applies when the verb uses "être", not "avoir".

July 20, 2017


Because you can leave the answer "leurs chapeaux" or "leur chapeau" (Note: sg vs. pl.) The logic is the same as in English, each is correct and accepted by Duo.

August 15, 2017


it is plural and needs correcting as it shows chapeau instead as being correct

October 15, 2017


Why isn't it "Ils sont portés" instead of "Ils ont porté"? I thought the "s" would be added for plural.

November 6, 2017


Duo told me "leur chapeaux" was wrong, then shows MY answer here. Foul!! And it missed my use of "portent" instead of "porte" (avec l'accent). Again I cry foul!

November 9, 2017


If you use the plural word "chapeaux", then you have to use the plural form of "leur", that is, "leurs". Here are some more examples:

Leur est toujours au pluriel "Leur" is always plural (leurs) when...

–> Quand il y a plusieurs choses ou plusieurs êtres pour chaque possesseur. ...there are multiple things or multiple beings for each owner

Elles ont coupé leurs cheveux. En été, les arbres ont toujours leurs feuilles. Les éleveurs ont vendu leurs bêtes. Ils n’en ont pas cru leurs oreilles. Les enfants sont venus avec leurs parents. Les poules sont suivies de leurs poussins.


–> Quand le nom n’existe pas au singulier. ...when the noun does not exist in the singular

Les élèves ont ri à leurs dépens. Ils ont cassé leurs lunettes.


November 9, 2017

[deactivated user]

    Merci bien pour ce lien.

    August 19, 2018


    They wore their hats. 1 Ils ont porté leurs chapeaux.


    3Ils ont porté leur chapeaux.

    December 1, 2017


    Isn't hats translated as chapeaux in French? Besides something is not quite right. According to this translation, it appears that various individuals were wearing somebody else hat. Otherwise, shouldn't it be: Ils ont porté leurs chapeaux? Sirsetur or George pls help.

    December 12, 2017


    This language.....

    December 29, 2017


    I'm almost ready to give up on this French learning. A few lessons ago I answered using "leur" and was marked wrong. Today I used "leurs" and was marked wrong again. What's going on?

    January 8, 2018


    It depends on the noun that comes after "leur" (or "leurs). "Leur" always takes a singular noun, while "leurs" always takes a plural noun.

    Leur chat Leurs chats

    January 9, 2018


    As a possessive adjective/determiner, "leur" is singular (masculine or feminine) and "leurs" is plural (masculine or feminine). It is third-person, for multiple possessors (vs. "son" / "sa" / "ses" for a single possessor).

    Since the noun "chapeau" is singular, you use "leur". That is, it is either singular "leur chapeau" or plural "leurs chapeaux".

    The tricky part with this question, discussed at length, is whether to use singular or plural. In English, we would use plural "their hats", but in French they consider it singular because there is presumably one hat per person, so each person is wearing his single hat.

    As an aside, note that "leur" is also the indirect object personal pronoun for the third-person plural (with no "s").

    January 9, 2018


    I put this same answer and you marked it wrong. What's up with that?

    February 2, 2018


    DL's "correction" to my effort, "elles portaient leurs chapeaux", was "elles portèrent leurs chapeaux". To my recollection, this is the first time that DL has referenced the passé simple tense, which I understand to be generally reserved for literary texts and which has not been taught in the DL curriculum. For one thing, I don't understand why my translation is wrong and, for another, why the passé simple is recommended when either the imparfait or passé composé would seem to be acceptable in this instance. (See comments by CJ Dennis, above.)

    The question of leur chapeau versus leurs chapeaux is another matter of significant confusion. Most of the discussion in this thread seems to be essentially of academic interest and just adds to my befuddlement.

    April 4, 2018


    I wrote portaient as well. Seems to me that you could say for example "while visiting Marseilles, they wore their hats" which implies an extended period justifying the imperfect tense.

    April 5, 2018


    There was more than one person, each wearing a hat, so surely chapeaux is correct??

    April 29, 2018


    Here we go again! The hover hints gave chapeaux so that is what I put.

    April 29, 2018


    Cest faut je suis francaise et je sais que les 2 peuvent marcher "leurs" avec un "s" signifie qu'ils mettent chacun plusieurs chapeau et "leur " sans "s" signifie qu'ils mettent 1 chapeau chacun./ It is wrong I'm french and I know that the 2 can walk "their" with a "s" means that they put each several hat and "their" without "s" means that they put 1 hat each one.

    June 1, 2018

    [deactivated user]

      Juliedream :-) C'est faux, française,

      August 19, 2018


      I wrote: ils ont port'e leur chapeaux and DL marked me wrong. This is capricious. There is no difference between ils and elles. Besides chapeaux was properly spelled. Mr. DL what are you doing?

      January 21, 2019


      Duo accepts either "ils" or "elles". It is likely that you made some other error/typo and then Duo corrected you with its current preferred answer: "Elles ont porté leurs chapeaux". But that doesn't mean that it wouldn't have accepted "ils".

      Note that you need either the singular "leur chapeau" or plural "leurs chapeaux", so if you wrote "leur chapeaux", it would not be accepted. You can read considerable discussion here about the choice of singular or plural in French for multiple people, each wearing a single hat.

      January 21, 2019


      Shouldn't it be "chapeaux"?

      February 1, 2019


      See the discussions about singular vs. plural — French can be different than English with multiple people each having one thing.

      Duo accepts either, but it must be "leur chapeau" or "leurs chapeaux".

      February 3, 2019


      if the correct answer is "leurs" it should be put in the options!

      February 24, 2019


      By "options", do you mean the hover hints, or the "click on words from a list" form of the question?

      If the former, note that the hover hints are often not specific to a particular exercise — you can't just assume they will get you to an accepted answer.

      If the latter, since both "leur chapeau" or "leurs chapeaux" are accepted — see extensive discussion of why — the word list form of exercises provide the words to form one accepted answer, but not necessarily the answer shown at the top of this page.

      February 26, 2019
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