"Ses chaussures sont marron."

Translation:His shoes are brown.

December 24, 2012

This discussion is locked.


So let me see if I got this right. Colours have to agree to the gender and number of the noun unless they are words derived from real-life objects (with the exception of 'rose' which agrees with the number of the noun).


Very good, with an addition: "violet" is also an exception (like "rose" and for the same reasons) : violet, violette, violets, violettes.


What is, "the same reason"?


The reason is that "une rose" and "une violette" are flower names.

They both are exceptions to the rule that color adjectives that can be the nouns of real thing are invariable (marron = chestnut, argent = silver, orange = orange...).


So, colours have to agree with gender and number of the nouns they discribe, except when they are words derived from real-life objects, except when those real-life objects are flowers. What a rule.



That's the syndrome of "exceptions of exceptions"...

Note that "j'ai une robe cyclamen" (another flower) does not agree because it is a real-life object, a flower.

so the architecture is as follows:

RULE: color adjectives are regular adjectives and as such, they agree in gender and number with the noun they modify: vert, verte, verts, vertes.

EXCEPTIONS: color adjectives derived from real-life objects are invariable: marron, argent, orange, chair, sang, neige, charbon...

EXCEPTIONS OF EXCEPTIONS: adjectives "rose" and "violet", derived from real-life objects (une rose, une violette), follow the general rule: des robes roses; des sacs violets, une robe violette, des robes violettes.


Thanks for this lesson!

Do you know the object from which 'marron' is derived?


"chestnut" (fruit)


I agree with a previous post: this could just as easily have been "Ces chaussures sont marrons."


The (color) adjective "marron" is invariable, that is it does not change with gender and number like most adjectives do: http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french-english/marron/181367


Thank you! Your answer is simple and very helpful.


Yeah! How're you gonna differentiate between Ces and Ses unless you have context?


Il a perdu cette clé (He lost this key) > Il a perdu ces clés (He lost these keys)

Il a perdu sa clé (He lost his key) > Il a perdu ses clés (He lost his keys)


Exactly. The problem here is that 'ces' and 'ses' sound extremely similar, so it is difficult to know which one is meant, unlike with 'cette' and 'sa'.


I found this site helpful: http://french.about.com/od/mistakes/a/ces-ses.htm

From what I understand, ces (these) is specific for the object, and ses (his, her, its) is specific for the owner. I'm not sure how you'd be able to differentiate it from a recording without context, I'm afraid. They are homophones, so there is no difference in sound.


You are absolutely right. For your info "ces" is a demonstrative adjective and "ses" a possessive adjective.


and in context, or written form that is fine, when listening to the recording however it is not possible to differentiate between the two :(


I agree; what's wrong with "maroons"?


First of, only one o. And as it seems, marron is just a weird word because it doesn't change at all. It just stays marron no matter what.


Brun is not very much in use actually. Only for hair color: un homme brun, une femme brune, un ours brun.


cats have hair bears have fur browns have lovely daughters


Here is a list of invariable adjectives: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_inv.htm And a very colourful chart of the most common colours: http://french.about.com/library/begin/bl_colors.htm I've found french.about.com a big help for grammar questions like that.


Thank you. Very helpful--and opens up other avenues for exploration/study.


Very nice! Thanks a lot lilygilder!


doesn't 'brown' translate as 'brun'?


"Brun(e)" is more commonly used in regards to the hair color: "Elle est brune."


both brun and marron mean brown


Yes. However in equestrian circles there is no such thing as a Brown horse. There is (usually) chestnut (for both stallions and mares) and Dun (usually for a mare). The Plot Thickens


c'est chaussures son marron sounds like


Ajajaj i wrote "c'est" insted "ses" i'm confused i don't hear any difference -_-'


What's wrong with 'its shoes are brown'?


'its' refers to an animal or an object, which do not usually wear shoes.


Could be talking about a doll or cartoon or something, 'its' should be accept imo.


Exactly. Or, what if I am referring to the shoes of an alien or shadowy figure that I can't ascertain the gender of? Ses chaussures would still be its shoes, or would I only be allowed to use 'leurs chaussures' (their shoes)?


We don't use 3rd person plural (their vs his/her/its) to refer to a single person or object.


I was thinking the same, for instance in children's stories where an animal might wear clothes.

And it does make more sense than some of the other weird (and far-fetched) sentences Duolingo comes out with..


In English, we would generally say 'his' or 'her' when the person wearing the shoes is a human: to me 'its shoes are brown' says that an animal (dog perhaps?) is wearing brown shoes.


doesn't "marron" have plural form?


No, the colours that represent something in the real world (not a colour but a thing) do not have a plural, as "rose", "orange" and "marron", for example


"Rose" is not only a flower name but also an adjective and takes an 's' in the plural form.

"les roses orange"

"les fleurs roses"


What Spiuni says is true: color names which come from real names should not be put in a plural or feminine form. BUT there are a few exceptions like rose or violet... (this is French).


Sorry if I sounded rude, I didn't mean to.

You don't understand the rule. The problem is not to know whether it was first a noun or an adjective: since it represents something, it cannot be put in a plural or feminine form. However "rose" and "violet" can be put in a plural or feminine form because they are exceptions to this rule. We could say these words also got a status of adjective, in addition to their status of noun.

We have the same conclusion but your explanation is wrong. They are just exceptions, and you can't explain exceptions. If what you think was right, I could say: "marron" is an adjective in its own right, derived from the name of the fruit: "un marron" (a chestnut), itself derived from italian 'marrone'. But can "marron" agree in gender and number with the noun it goes with? No, it can't.

By the way the sun light spectrum goes far beyong violet otherwise without ultraviolet you wouldn't tan! I guess you meant the visible light spectrum.


What you say doesn't make any sense and your use of "so" is completely absurd. Exceptions don't have logic, by definition. May I repeat the rule: "The colors which represent something in the real world, ie which are also nouns (like marron or orange) do not have a plural form (when they are used as an adjective of course). "Rose" which is a flower and "violet", the masculine form of "violette" which is also a flower SHOULD STICK to this rule. But they don't because they are EXCEPTIONS.


@jesihcuhh: the flower is "la violette", feminine like "la rose"


You explained this all very well! Thanks. Just to be perfectly clear though, I CAN say something like:

Les chemises roses

But NOT something like:

Les chemises marrons

Because although both "rose" and "marron" can be nouns, "rose", like "violet" is an exception, while "marron" is not. And also, "violet" is the masculine form of "violette" so if I want to say "The violet (flower)" I would say "Le violette" NOT "Le violet". Correct?


what is then correct, and why doesn't marron here have an -s or -es at the end? i remember i had to put an -s/-es at the end of rose/rouge/gris etc.


Yes "marron" has a plural form when it is the noun meaning "chestnut".


les marrons sont marron ? unless of course they're green !


Thank you for that list of invariable adjectives in French. Merci pour cette page des adjectifs invariables Français.


Could it not be "Ces chaussures...."???


Yes and it is accepted as correct.


My question isn't about the colour 'marron' but about 'ses' instead. How do we know that it is brown shoes belonging to a single person? How would I say "Their shoes are brown?"


Leur (or is it leurs in this case?) chaussures sont marron.


Their = leur with a singular noun and leurs with a plural noun.


Ajajaj i wrote "c'est" insted "ses" i'm confused i don't hear any difference -_-'


There is no difference in hearing but "c'est" is irrelevant in this sentence: would you say "it is shoes are brown" ? Probably not.

The only alternative so "ses" could be "ces" (these/those: demonstrative) because it could also make sense.


I lost a heart purely for putting an extra e after the second u. Why was this not classed as a typo?


Hi briony. Yours is a fair queston but the "Why" is not possible to answer. However this seems to be the case: Duo will only allow typos in English. In French typos will be marked down. Only lack of/inappropriate use of accents are allowed. Spelling has to be perfect in French and that, though a little harsh, actually seems good practise to me.


Ses chaussures sont marronS ?! I think it's ok when the subject is in plural


Shouldn't be marrons, plural in this case? It was wrong, but in other previous case I made mistake because I didn't put the color in plural.


In French, color adjectives agree to the gender and number of the noun unless they are also nouns of real-life objects. That is the case here, because "marron" is also the name of a fruit (chestnut). For further info: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_inv.htm


How could I know it onle from the practice? It is mentioned only here in the discussions. :S


The Duo system is you practice and think you understand something and then a question is presented that indicates you need more understanding. When that happens you come to the comments page to get help with that particular Issue.


why her shoes? son, sa ses =his hers theirs isn't ses the pural of son and sa?


"ses" is plural masculine or feminine of "son" (masc) or "sa" (fem), they agree with the object owned (here, chaussures, fem plural).

all of them indicate that the owner can be a man or a woman.

so Duo should accept "his" shoes or "her" shoes as a translation of "ses chaussures".


I don't understand how we were supposed to know this obscure rule ahead of time. By deduction? How would one deduce such a ridiculous grammatical rule a priori? Impossible! Please, Duolingo, give us some warning ahead of time!


Well, the method Duo is using is by trial and error. You could not have guessed this rule, but now you know about it. Next time you will hopefully get it right.


why is the translation "her shoes are brown"? how do we know it is a woman. I put "their shoes are brown" because I couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman but was marked as wrong. Please can anyone answer this?


Son = masculine singular... the form must agree with the object ie: the noun not the subject. If the noun is masculine singular then son must be used regardless of the gender or number of the subject.

Sa = feminine singular....again the form must agree with the noun it modifies.

Ses = masculine/ feminine plural...again it must agree with the noun. It is _ses chaussures_ because chaussures is plural therefore the plural form of son/ sa/ ses is required despite there being only one subject.

Had there been only one shoe..la chaussure... then it would have read sa chaussure even though the subject may have been male.

This sentence could have been translated as Her or His shoes are brown. Sometimes Duo likes to mix the subject form and the object form so that you notice it is the object that determines agreement not the subject.

Absent any context you can choose whatever gender you want when you translate it to English. But in French it has to agree with the noun.


What you have said is exactly what I thought, which is why I was so confused. In English if you don't know if someone is a man or woman you would say "their" eg there was someone standing in the shadows, all I would see was their feet sticking out.so why would my reply of "their shoes are brown" be wrong?


In this case leur/s = their is not used in this sentence. It would be perfectly correct to use such a construction but not if you were translating a sentence that said something else.

This sentence says his/her shoes are brown, not their shoes are brown. It is natural for English speakers to try to deal with what they see as possible gender confusion in French because of the necessity to assign gender to what seems like every word.

In English it is common to use masculine when referring to a situation where gender is unknown. It is so widespread that there are now groups that dedicated to abolishing the practice, with some success. Chairman is now becoming chairperson, fisherman turning into fisher etc. But not because English speakers felt confused when hearing the original phrases and stopped to wonder ..How do I know what gender the person being spoken about really is?.... They (the listeners) dealt with it because either it was clear from the context or it didn't make any difference and they just moved on.

Same with French. Either you know from previous conversation whether it was male of female or it doesn't make any difference. Alternatively, in either language, you can always stop the conversation and ask...Hey, wait a minute it's not clear, I need to know if it was a man or a woman who chaired the meeting....was it a man or a woman who was doing the fishing...was it a man or a woman who was wearing brown shoes.

Otherwise, you just accept what the person is saying. Especially if you are making a best effort to translate what he actually said or wrote without any real need for it to fit into any larger context. His/ her shoes are brown. That's all it says. It could say more but it doesn't. We might prefer that it say more but it doesn't. That's all it needs to say.


I understand what you're saying, however ... Many people now use "their" as a catch-all when they don't know whether it should be "his" or "hers". Grammatically, it isn't accurate but it is common parlance now and doesn't necessarily imply plurality.

In the example we were asked to translate, the gender of the person owning the shoes is not certain - so, to avoid sounding sexist, many people would use "their shoes" implying neutral gender.



Not only is the grammar you were using when choosing leur correct, it is common in English.

The problem here is Duo wants to make sure you know what the French sentence actually says which is slightly different from your preferred usage.


I agree. Most English speakers would use their shoes in such a situation.


Thank you both. So, basically it all comes down to my commonly spoken but grammatically incorrect English :) You learn something new every day...


This is ambiguous. The sentence could be referring to a group of girls, not necessarily one girl. Either Their or Her (shoes) is correct I think? Please answer


Their is a correct usage in English. But their is leur which is not in the original sentence you are being asked to translate. Ses is in the sentence which translates to his/ her/ its.

Son/ sa/ ses do not take their form because of the number or gender of the person/s they refer to. They take the form of the noun they are attached to. Ses refers to only one person whose gender is not known.


Ajajaj i wrote "c'est" insted "ses" i'm confused i don't hear any difference -_-'


Why isn't 'her shoes are brown' correct?


It should be, you can report it if it is not.


Why is "ses chaussures sont marrons" incorrect? Is marron not supposed to be plural?


marron is BOTH the singular AND the plural form - it is one of those exceptional adjectives - les marrons sont marron !


If marron is brown, then what is maroon?


maroon = bordeaux (color of the Bordeaux wine = dark red)


Surely "chestnut brown" is not incorrect. Perhaps a little superfluous, but not wrong.


In English, chestnut is a particular type of brown, but in French marron (which can mean the actual nut, chestnut) does not mean a particular type of brown, not just the brown found on a chestnut, but any brown. So, this is perhaps a faux friend.


All her shoes or just one pair. Translations in these circumstances seem inadequate.


Does anyone else get a problem where they are unable to hear the sound of the speaker at all?


Yes. I report it to "Report a Problem"


Me too. I report it most days as it seems to happen nearly every every day.


i dont really get this...?


so for plural of brown, it's morron rather than morrons?


None of either: marron (and not marrons, which is only the plural of un marron = a chestnut)


I think I've asked this before but got no help. How on earth do you tell the difference between the pronunciation of "Ses" and "C'est"??! Any constructive help will be much appreciated


The answer to this question is above on this thread

Cut & Paste

There is no difference in hearing but "c'est" is irrelevant in this sentence: would you say "it is shoes are brown" ? Probably not.

The only alternative so "ses" could be "ces" (these/those: demonstrative) because it could also make sense.

  • Note: other homophones: sait, s'est


Once again Sitesurf to the rescue with his/her trademark no bs, to-the-point answer. You some kinda french language superhero? Merci beaucoup Sitesurf.


In this sentence, how can one tell if you're speaking about either 'his' or 'her'?


You cannot know. Only context would tell.


Why is "marron"? I think it must be "marrons"


Please read below.


why doesn't marron end in s?


Please read the thread. This question is asked and answered several times.


Never heard marron for brown in Quebec, only brun.


In Haiti French "It is brown" is "Li se Mawon". French changes around the world. Even Arcadian and Louisiana French are different for Brown. We are learning French French and isn't it nice when we have a cup of tea and make things as simple as can be? By the way, You have "Meg_in_Quebec" right there who is on Duo and also learning French language right there in Quebec. Stream her, she is very forthcoming and surely will love to help with the differences. Much love et Bon chance. JJ


Not complaining, just noting the difference. I had no idea that the French say marron. If I wanted to buy a pair of chaussures marron in Montreal I would get a blank look, since it is a colour for horses or a thing you eat at Christmas, lol.


Yes Que A. As I posted above, the French language drastically changes around the world where it is used. I am sorry but I have forgotten the guide to Marron vs Brun inFrance's french. I have searched for a site to explain it and failed. Until a more knowledgeable one comes to enlighten you, just stick with Marron for brown while you are in the "PresentTense" lessons.


what is pronunciation difference between ces and ses?


I think that Duo accepts both, for that same reason.


Try saying this one five times fast.


How can you tell it was 'ses' and not what i put 'ce'?


It's difficult to hear the difference between 'ses' and 'ces' so Duo accepts them both. It doesn't accept 'ce' because that is singular and we have 'chaussures' which are plural.


Bleh, of course! Thanks fofr your reply ^^


Does "ses" imply a gender? I wrote "their shoes..." and it was marked incorrect (the suggested answer was "her shoes")


"ses" implies that the owner is one person and the object owned is plural.

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