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"Seules les femmes boivent du thé."

Translation:Only the women drink tea.

December 24, 2012

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Here "seules" means "only".

You could also have "seulement les femmes boivent du thé" (less elegant than "seules les femmes" but correct) meaning that in this room only women drink tea, while men drink something else (bourbon?).

if you say "(the) women only drink tea", the French would be "les femmes boivent seulement du thé" or "les femmes ne boivent que du thé" (= they drink tea and no other drink).

3rd possibility: "les femmes seules boivent du thé" = (the) lonely (or single) women drink tea.

4th possibility : "les femmes boivent du thé seules" = (the) women drink tea by themselves (alone).

5th possibility (further fetched!): "les femmes boivent du thé seul" = (the) women drink plain tea (no milk, no sugar).


I really am thankful to be able to read your explanations. I wish you were my tutor!


I am, actually... ask your questions and I will most certainly give you answers.


:) You completed all of the Duolingo lessons? WOW!


Yes, and several times, since Duo regularly adds content to lessons. As soon as my tree is all gold, I have to do it again... (it's like cleaning the house, once you have finished here, you have to go back there...)


my house is a mess thanks to Duolingo and you!


I am French.


@Botz: My French has not improved but my English has, a little.


Wow love this explanation! Are you french? Or where do you learn it ?


How's your french now? Do you understand it after doing all the lessons or do you continue to learn using other methods?


thanks sitesurf love your comments


What I don't understand is why "seules" is used in plural form. Is it an adjective or adverb?


It is an adjective.

The adverb is "seulement"


It's an adjective but in this sentence it's not used as an adjective if it means ''only'', but as an adverb. So I still don't understand the plural and the feminine form...


"seules" remains an adjective, even it it translates to an adverb in English.

The construction with "seules" in the beginning makes it translatable to "only" but it does not change the French rule of agreement of the adjective with the noun it qualifies.


I wrote "Lonely women drink tea". Why is this incorrect? Does seules mean lonely?


Not in this sentence.

"les femmes seules (or "esseulées") boivent du thé" = lonely women drink tea.


what I understood is the position of "seules" if it's at the beginning of the sentence it means only, if it's after the noun it means lonely. Am I right?


@Frannaji. Yes and no. Given grammar and structure sometimes "solitaire" would be used in preference to seules.


Could you not say, for your 5th possibility, something like 'les femmes boivent du the sans sucre and san lait'? (again sorry can't do the accents here)


yes, of course, and there is even a better expression of "sans lait, sans citron, sans sucre", which is "du thé nature" (invariable = plain).


I am unsure if I can finish these DL lessons, though I've come this far.

Previously it had translated 'Les hommes seules...' as 'Lonely men...' I followed DL and translated 'Les femmes seules...' as 'Lonely women....' and bam. I am wrong. It says 'Only women...'.


You have to pay attention to the word order. If a sentence starts with "seul" (seule, seuls, seules), it will mean "seulement" = only.

un homme seul = a lonely man

elle va à l'école seule = she goes to school alone (by herself)


I was unaware of the 'only' meaning, but puzzled because this word order in English would require a comma after 'alone' to make any sense. I knew I was going to get it wrong, but I had no idea why.


Thanks Sitesurf. This is the saying of a frustrated person. LOL.

Thanks very much.



Un seul homme...or un homme seul would mean "just one man..." yes? Not necessarily a lonely man, but just one in number.


un homme seul = a lonely man

un seul homme = just one man / only one man


The confusing thing is that word order is typically quite different than English so I don't rule something out if it seems odd in the construction to me. :)


Understood miller........ Then we have to appreciate the common order of things and the order of differences. Like, men prefer to think that women are dificient in "Spacial Awareness" (They find it very difficult to park the car").. This is considered not "Non-PC" because it is in the "Order" of things. However the bloody men cannot for the life of them find the friggin MUSTARD in the small cupboard!!! This is OUT OF ORDER. I propose that the Word Order remained in order here? Is my post in order? :)


And now for something completely different.......... So many connotations: "Alone the women drink tea" can mean They drink tea when they are alone together away from the men.... When the women are on their own singularly , they drink tea. The women ONLY drink tea when they are either alone together or completely on their own. Given a certain sentence structure it could be skewed to mean that the women only drink tea. Far fetched but plausible. To try to solve this conundrum I went to the tea rooms and asked a lady of a certain age "Is it alone that you drink tea?" She said "NO! You're here now ducky aren't you?" Ho Hum.


Ty that's the explanation I needed


Thanks for reminding us of the different forem of "seul"!


It reads "seules les femmes" not "les femmes seules". The order changes the meaning.


What's the difference between "Seule les femmes boivent du lait" and "juste les femmes boivent du lait"?


Am I right that 4 and 5 would be pronounced the same? Seul is pronounced the same as seules? If so, how could you tell the difference? Or is it likely that a French speaker would say this a different way to avoid confusion?


The same way we don't get into trouble when we say: Never trouble trouble until trouble troubles you. You're and your, their and there and they're, read and red, knot and not...


Sorry, the analogy doesn't work. Assuming 'seul' is pronounced the same as 'seules', I can't see a way to distinguish between the two in spoken French.


Seul is pronounced the way the seules is pronounced, and read and red, knot and not are also pronounced the same way. The sentence always provides context in English and French. So we generally know whether we're talking about one person or more than one. Sometimes, in both languages, the context doesn't make it clear, and then we ask for clarification. Part of becoming fluent is being able to anticipate the whole sentence from its start; we sort of grasp it all at once. Non-fluent speakers have to piece together the sentence word by word. So German speakers don't really have to "wait" for the end of the sentence to know what the verb is (in most cases).

Put it another way: Language isn't like computer code. There's always room for ambiguities, double entendres, puns, and metaphors. This is what allows for great literature and humor. So you're not going to get the absolute assurance of "one clear meaning" in every case that you seem to be seeking.


Excellent comment!


excuse me, can we say, des thé?


@ta.mi. No. Des is plural so Thé would need to be plural also (Thés) Yes, I think, Des Thés; I think this may translate to "Only the women drink teas" which is strange, implying that each are drinking many different kinds of tea and no others do such a thing. The sentence is fine as it is. Cordial, JJ.


Hi Jackjon

Of course you are right about "des" and the points you made are clear but just to add a little to your point for the benefit of others - as you know but others might not, the crucial issue in this particular case is that "thé" is an uncountable noun.

The English sentence means that the women are drinking "some tea" which is "de+le thé" which is contracted as "du thé".

With an uncountable noun "some" is translated as either "du" or "de la" depending on the gender of the noun.

With a countable noun "some" is translated as "des".


Thanks, Patrick. With this information I see that my post was lacking in depth.


@Jackjon: oui, je vois :) Merci beaucoup ^^


Oui-eh. Profiter des leçons mon ami. JJ.


What's the difference between seules and seulement?


"seul, seule, seuls and seules" are an adjective meaning "alone".

"seulement" is an adverb meaning "only, exclusively"

For details, please read the whole thread.


You are awesome


So, 'l'homme boit du thé seul' could mean both 'the man drinks tea by himself' and 'the man drinks plain tea' as it is not clear whether seul attributes to tea or the man. Am i right?


That's right. So, to avoid the ambiguity that "seul" would not apply to the man, we would probably be more precise about the tea: "il boit du thé nature" (sans lait, sans citron) or il boit du thé seulement (no other food or drink).


So why not " alone, the women drink tea" ?


Because it is not meant that they are alone. The meaning is that among an assembly of men and women, there is not one single man who drinks tea. For the same meaning, in French, you could have: " Seulement les femmes boivent du thé".


but how would you say " alone, the women drink tea" then?


I would say "les femmes boivent du thé, seules"


I was marked wrong for "The women alone are drinking tea", by which I meant that only women were drinking tea. Can't "alone" in English mean "only", depending on the context and word order?


So 'seules les femmes' basically means 'only' as in 'only women drink tea'. But, putting it AFTER, 'les femmes seules' would mean 'the women alone' w/o anyone else?


Well, I tell you, I picked up my french again after 30 plus years. Had a single year that long ago Thought it would be good for my aging grey cells. I think I was right. This is fun! I need to go join Alliance Francaise in my area, truly I do.


I'm with you, DuFarge. Had 3 years of French in high school and 1 year in college. Went to France a couple of years ago, and was amazed how much I remembered and how well I was understood. Now I am hooked. I am writing a children's book in French for my one year old grandson. May I confer with you or Sitesurf re questions I have?


Sure, as far as I'm concerned! Just post your questions on my stream.


It seems like this app randomly chooses when to say your pronunciation is off. It is annoying.


I agree, the speech recognition is odd and unpredictable. But I do still like to get speech exercises as well.


Where does one find the speech exercises? I haven't gotten any thus far.


you have to enable the use of microphone via settings


Settings on my computer or in Duo or both? If the former, where do I find the "settings" in Duo?


Settings in Duolingo. If you're using the website then it can be found by hovering on your username on the top-right section of your screen. The menu that pops up contains a link titled "settings" There you'll find the option for Microphone.


I wrote: the women are drinking tea alone. Incorrect


Yes, because it is not alone but only that is the correct translation of seules in this case.

Think of a large group of men, women and children at a café. When the waiter appears at the table with all different orders and start to deliver them one by one, an impatient member of the group says: Only the women (of this group) drink tea. This person knows what everybody has ordered and simplifes the delivering process by this remark since the waiter do not have to ask all members for the recipient of each cup of tea. And as you can see, the tea drinking women are not alone as there are men and children in their group.


But we do not know that there are children and men in the group. That is an assumption.


I am only a kid, so I look up to Sitesurf. I am only learning because I have to, but Sitesurf, you make it possible!


Why does one not translate the word 'les'. So many times we use the article, or partitive, and then don't have to translate the word. I translate this as 'only THE women drink tea' and it is marked incorrect. And, actually, to my mind it should be translated 'only the women drink some tea'. Do we just ignore the articles and partitives when translating?


just to be sure: if this sentence were about men, it would be: SEULS les hommes..etc. right?


When do you use "seulement" vs. "seul?" Is it that "seulement" is an adverb and applies only to, in this case, "boivent," and would mean "women only drink tea" vs. what it actually means which is "only women drink tea?"


Exactly, yes.


So, could one say 'seules les femmes boivent du the seules? Meaning "Only women drink tea alone'?


man its a beautiful puzzle i must say. this concept is in my 'indian' language Katchi.

Eg. Khali Maru Piyeta - Only Men Drink Maru Piyeta Khali - Men are Drinking Empty (Maybe empty of wealth or otherwise) Maru Khali Piyeta - Men are Only Drinking

Not that this is related but just to let you know that this concept is applied in other languages


I'm a bit confused. The translation given for "Seules les femmes boivent du thé." is "The women are the only ones drinking tea." (More directly translated, "only the women are drinking tea"). What if you wanted to say "Only women drink tea"? Wouldn't this be said the same way ("Seules les femmes boivent du thé.")? Is it something to do with seule and seulement?


why is it not 'seules des femmes boivent du the'? I would have translated the sentence as 'only the women drink tea'


The=le, la, l', les

(Some)=du, de la, de l', des

Of the=des

Seules des femmes boivent du thé=Only (some) women drink tea - it is another sentence with another meaning than Seules les femmes boivent du thé=Only the women drink tea


"Why isn't: "The women drink some tea by themselves" correct?


Why 'the wives' is incorrect instead 'the women'? It has a specific situation to use femme?


une femme = a woman

ma femme = my wife / my woman (married or not)

my wife = mon épouse (married)

my woman = ma femme, ma compagne

So, it needs a family context for "femme" to mean wife.


Well, at least, at the end of this, 5 million people will have the use of "seul," etc., down cold. Or that old Borsht Belt joke: "She's not 'a woman,' she's my wife."


I think that should be she's no LADY, she's my wife; lady and woman have different meanings in English, lady implying a cultured, refined woman (or of course, titled)


So, "only", "lonely" and "alone" are basically the same word in French, just depends on order?


Basically, yes.


thanks sitesurf we always love your comments


In this I wrote "les femmes boivent du lait" = correct???


@uneydr The translation is Alone the women drink tea and you've written The women drink (some) milk.


No, I was just astonished by how DuoLingo said my answer was right! :D


Ah, I see. Yes it is weird. It has happened to me when I only typed 2 letters of a five-word answer and hit the enter button by mistake and was marked correct. Even more weird considering we can get marked down for a one-letter typo. Ho hum.


Ho hum, bro :)


Is there a reason why "The women are drinking some tea alone" might be wrong? I was penalised for it but am unsure whether this is a mistake or not.


As already explained a number of times on this page, word order changes the meaning of "seules" and "only" respectively. Please read the 1st post at the top to get full explanations.


Thanks, although to be honest, I am still a bit confused and it appears I have much to learn. I thought my translation was very close to the 4th possibility in your 1st post at the top. I am happy that I am getting the meaning of the sentence correct, if not the exact syntax.

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