"He is certainly my son."
Translation:C'est certainement mon fils.
When a noun (here, "fils") is modified, "c'est" is used, rather than "il est". Here, "mon" modifies "fils". "Un" would also be a modifier of "fils".
So, for he is a son, it would be, "Il est un fils"? It's because son is modified with my that it's c'est?
Yes, modifiers can be articles or possessive and demonstrative adjectives as well.
he is the son I wish I had = c'est le fils que j'aurais aimé avoir
he is my son = c'est mon fils
he is that boy I met the other day = c'est ce garçon que j'ai rencontré l'autre jour
I think this is my biggest struggle yet with French....c'est vs il est. Is there a explanation to what a "modifier" actually is?! The word "fils" isn't modified (changed) in any way and I'm not sure what words around it are considered to be modifying it or not modifying it. Comments above say that "mon" and "un" can modify the noun....but then go on to say that "Il est un fils" is correct. If "un" modifys then it should be c'est un fils?
And yet, I just used "il est..." and it was accepted! Aaarrgh! Thank you for the link. It is very helpful.
@peachacid « C'est un fils » is correct and « Il est un fils » is incorrect.
Faranae meant to say that both "mon"and "un" are modifiers -- so the same rule applies.
I agree. It's not the best explanation. Another link Sitesurf shared in a different place is better, in my opinion: http://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/cest-versus-il-elle-est
Just to confuse you (and me) further, I used "Il est..." and Duo marked it correct. 10.21.17. This may be one of those times when either is acceptable.
A rare occurrence, and not in spoken French though. It is not incorrect but it sounds odd.
Absolument > certainly > certainement > surement > probablement > maybe BUT, if Certainement is given the emphasis by being placed up front (very ancient Gaul imoho), it might even beat Absolutely - refer Sitesurf's 'Of Course' above !
Contrary to logic, "certainement" is not "more certain" than "probablement/probably, sûrement/ surely", etc. at least when it is placed as in this sentence, ie after the verb.
However, if you place "certainement" up front, with a comma, the certainty becomes absolute:
Certainement, c'est mon fils (!), like "of course, he is my son!"
Is that also true any time you separate the "certainly" from the main clause? For instance, if it is placed at the end instead of the beginning (c'est mon fils certainement)?
"c'est mon fils certainement" is not a certainty. You can hear is in situations like:
Q: Qui a fait ça ? - A: C'est mon fils, certainement!
In this case, chances are that it was indeed my son who did it, but it remains just 'highly probable'.
I do not understand why my answer "c'est mon fils certainement" wasn't accepted. I have not seen a written rule about the placement of "certainement". Can somebody explain?
This adverb could travel and be placed at the front, at the end or after the verb.
Its most natural placement is after the verb: "c'est certainement mon fils".
The back translation can be either "he is certainly my son" (because I was dating his mother 9 months before his birth, for instance); or "it is certainly my son" (as an answer to a question like: who did that?)
If you displace it, you add a specific stress on the adverb and can express a slight shift in meaning:
certainement, c'est mon fils ! (with a comma and an exclamation mark) = of course, it/he's my son!
c'est mon fils, certainement (with a comma) = "he/it's my son, certainly" Then the meaning is closer to "probably" with the same interpretations as when the adverb is after "c'est", but with a reduced certainty.
The adverb's best placement is after the verb.
And also "il est mon..." should be changed to "c'est mon...": http://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/cest-versus-il-elle-est