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  5. "Ça se peut."

"Ça se peut."

Translation:That may be.

December 27, 2012



I BELIEVE it is an idiomatic expression. It's just one of those phrases that doesn't really directly translate well, but is used naturally by native speakers. Basically, just something you have to memorize.


ça peut se produire plus tôt que ce que tu penses
= it can happen sooner than you think


in a casual pronunciation, would this be said more like (excuse spelling entirely):

speus prodweer plu tow kesk tu pons. ?


sapeu sprodweer plu tow kuh skuh tu pans


Is it ça peut se... or ça se peut...?


You may remember that some reflexive constructions actually express a passive notion.

  • "ça se peut" has "se pouvoir" meaning "can be" + done/heard/said/seen, etc. but without a verb.

  • "ça peut se faire/s'entendre/se dire/se voir, etc." means "that can be done/heard/said/seen"; it has the verb and therefore the reflexive moves to the verb.


I believe the former.

se produire = to happen, to take place


Could it just be "Ça peut se produire plus tôt que tu pense" or do you need to use "que ce que"?


Could Jean-Luc Picard use this as a French equivalent of "Make it so!" ? p.s. Nice link for ca se peut > https://offqc.com/tag/ca-se-peut/


Would French speakers use this phrase instead of "C'est possible"? Or are they both used, just as if I were to say "It could be" and "It's possible" nearly synonymously?


We use "ça se peut" in casual speech and "c'est possible" in writing (or in formal speech)


How to understand ce and se while listening?


"ce" is to be found only in front of "sont" and verb "pouvoir".

  • ce sont mes ami(e)s = they are my friends
  • ce peut être pire (very formal and rare) = that can be worse - but we would rather say "cela/ça peut être pire"

As you can see, "se" can be found (rarely) in front of "pouvoir" as well, but constructions would be different:

  • cela se peut (fixed phrase) = that can be
  • il se peut que je vienne dimanche = I might come on Sunday


"ça" is only the short, in-speech version of "cela". Note that French people tend to use little words in "a" more often than their "i" counterparts:

  • ici < là (here - there)
  • ceci < cela/ça (this - that)
  • voici < voilà (here is - there is)

"I might" means "il se peut" and you could replace it by "je pourrais" (conditional of verb "pouvoir")

"je vienne" is in subjunctive that is used automatically with "il se peut que" and a few other verbal phrases.

So, "I might come" can translate to:

  • il se peut que je vienne
  • je pourrais venir
  • je viendrai peut-être


I assume using "cela" in this construction clears any doubt of wondering whether "ca se peut" is "that" or "this"?

The last example: why cannot "je vienne" stand alone as "I might" without using "il se peut"?


In spoken Spanish people generally use "Se puede" instead of "Es posibile" and spoken Italian people generally use "Si può" instead of "È possibile" I would suspect that the same holds true for people using "Ça se peut" instead of "C'est possible" in spoken French.

Google trends indicates that "Ça se peut" and "C'est possible" are used with equal frequency on the Internet (which is effectively a mixture of spoken and written French) http://www.google.com/trends/explore?q=%C3%87a+se+peut%2CC%27est+possible#q=%C3%87a%20se%20peut%2C%20C%27est%20possiblecmpt=q

Google Ngram indicates that "C'est possible" is used far more frequently in written French than in spoken French: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=%C3%87a+se+peut%2CC%27est+possibleyear_start=1800year_end=2000corpus=19smoothing=3share=direct_url=t1%3B%2C%C3%87a%20se%20peut%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CC%27est%20possible%3B%2Cc0


In my experience of spoken Spanish (having grown up bilingual English/Spanish), "Sí se puede" by itself means "yes one can" (impersonal se), which is better translated as "yes you can".

"That is possible" is "(eso) es posible" (in Spanish pronouns are usually omitted and used mainly for emphasis) or " (eso) puede ser" -- literally, "it (that) can be".

Is there a similar idiom or impersonal construction in French using "peut" for "yes one can"?


For similar reasons I answered this with 'Yes you can' and it was deemed incorrect


I translated it as "That's doable" and got the green light.


that's doable = c'est faisable (same structure, same meaning)


I believe the closest translation would be "that can be done"


that can be done = cela/ça peut se faire.


Looking at the numerous comments about "ça se peut", I suggest to consider another French expression "peut-être" using the same verb, with the same exact meaning and which translates perfectly in English: "maybe" or "perhaps". So, to translate "ça se peut", I believe that Duo should accept the latter as well.


peut-etre is far more common in the canadian french I've seen


Yeah, this is what we were taught growing up in Ontario.


Is there a reason that "that could be" is incorrect? I thought it was interchangeable with "that can be". Thank you in advance my muse.


The reason is that "could be" is in the conditional mood and "peut" is in the indicative mood.


AHA! peut-être - that's the phrase I recall from high school French 50 years ago. Ça se peut is new to me, but then my 4 years of high-school French were very strict as far as colloquialisms went, and any relaxed form of the language was frowned upon. I don't recall the new phrase from any of the 19th century French novels I read, either. But that was 50 years ago.


Can someone explain this translation? I don't understand the 'se' in this sentence.


Functionally the "se" in "se peut" and the "on" in "on peut" are roughly equivalent to the "one" in the English "one can". These constructions can be useful because they allow one to talk about an action without attributing it to any person or persons in particular. In English the "one" construction is only really used in very formal language, in French it is used far more widely.


The logic I see in it is that "se" is reflexive, so literally it means "That can [verb?] itself." or "That is able to [verb?] itself." The reason I put [verb?], is that there is a feeling that the verb pertaining to what can be done is absent, but the reflexive pronoun leads back to the subject of the sentence, so we're left with the sense that the thing that "can be done" (as you might say in English) is the subject of the sentence itself. That is to say, the subject itself is the thing possible, i.e. "That can be" or "That's possible".


I think this expression might be equivalent to the US English expression "Could be."


I agree with dTos and Sitesurf. It doesn't translate directly. My teachers used it to mean "It's possible" I'm not sure if this site acknowledges that as a translation.


I wrote "that is possible" and it accepted that.


In English, I believe we would say "That could be.", while the 'correct' answer is 'That can be.', I cannot think of ever hearing that spoken (though 'That can be done' or 'that can happen' and the like are OK...)


I would agree. "That could be" while not a literal translation seems like a better idiomatic translation to me.


Agreed. An English speaker usually would not say "that can be".


Why was "That could be" not accepted.


Don't get this at all. Once you use Ce as correct, then, Se is also correct...can both CE and SE be used with the same meanning?I'd like to have some explanation on this, Please!


Ce means this/that. Se means herself/himself/oneself/each other.

In this case se is part of an expression that doesn't easily translate word by word.


I don't really get how this one works as the structure of the sentence seems strange to me, more like "this can itself" but definitely not "this can be done" or something


This is an idiomatic expression using a fake reflexive that actually has a passive sense:

  • ça se peut = lit. that can be = maybe
  • ça se voit = lit. that can be seen = it shows
  • ça se fait = lit. that can be done/made = it's done / it applies
  • ça se dit = lit. that can be said = as we say / that is called / that means
  • ça se mange = lit. that can be eaten = it is edible
  • ça s'achète = lit. that can be bought = it is available / you can buy it


How do you pronounce “ça se” in street French?


Yes, i input Maybe and it accepted. (16 Sep 2018)


What's the difference between "That can be" and "That could be"?


In conditional : ça se pourrait


I'm assuming you could also say "ça ne se peut pas" for the negative of this sentence? Or not as popular?


It's fine, but less usual than "ce n'est pas possible".


Makes sense, thanks!


How to use this please?


When "maybe" or "perhaps" are given as a single word answer to a question.


Can this also mean "I guess so" per chance?


I think 'that works' is a pretty good translation.


Why isn't "That could be" accepted?

From everything I've heard, that has contextually the same meaning and is actually used in English, unlike "That can be".


What's the difference between "ce" and "se" in French?


"ce" is a demonstrative pronoun or adjective.

  • C'est mon chien (pronoun)
  • Ce sont ses parents (pronoun)
  • Ce chien est rapide (adjective)

"se" is a reflexive pronoun.

  • Il/elle/on se lave = he/she/it washes (himself/herself/itself)
  • Ils/elles se souviennent = they remember (themselves)


"that might be" or "may be" is not acceptable as a translantion?


that might be = ça se pourrait // may be = peut-être :=)


would not “that may be” be a more idomatic expression in English


Does "ça arrive" mean the same thing?


Not quite, but I assume that in some context, both "that can be" and "that happens" would be fairly close.


when i see se before a verb i automatically assume it is reflexive and so i'm really stuck on this. i can learn this exception, but i'm curious if any native speaking french out there can tell me if ca se (verb) is used like this in any other examples.

also, would the passe compose of this be c'est se peut? i've been living in france for almost 3 years and don't think i've ever heard this (but it's entirely possible i have and didn't know it).


ceci/cela/ça se + verb is extremely frequent in French and there are countless examples:

  • ça se dit, ça se fait, ça se comprend, ça se voit, ça se sait, ça se peut, ça se mange, ça se boit...

This fake reflexive formula has actually a passive meaning, like "that is being said".


merci beaucoup, i think these small word combinations are the source of my ongoing nonexistent oral comprehension problem :)

because i cling desperately to direct translations, will you tell me if these are correct? if so i will memorize and practice saying them so that i can recognize them better in daily life.

ça se dit = it is being said (or is it that "it can be said")? ca se fait = it is being done/made ca se comprend - it is in general understood ca se voit = it is being seen ca se sait = it is generally known ca se peut = it is generally possible ca se mange = it is being eaten (up?) ca se boit = it is being drunk ca se rêve = it is being dreamed about (in general)

also, and last question on this for now i promise, what is the difference in meaning between on le dit and ca se dit?

thanks again


ça se dit = it is being said, or it can be said, or people say it, or I've heard it

on le dit = people say it/ I've heard it (but no guarantee that it is true)

ça se fait = it is being done/made; it can be done/made, people do/make it

ça se comprend = I/you/we can understand that

ça se voit = I/you/we can see it; it shows

ça se sait = it is generally known; people end up knowing about it

ça se peut = it is possible; this is a valid hypothesis; maybe/perhaps

ça se mange = it is edible; it's good (understatement);
ça se mange avec du pain = to be eaten with bread

ça se boit = it is drinkable; it's good (understatement);
ça se boit avec des glaçons = to be drunk on ice

ça se sent = I/you/we can smell it or ... feel it

ça se rêve: not used


you had me till the last one, Sitesurf. 'Ça se sent' can mean BOTH " smell it" and "not used"??


A mistake of mine: "ça se rêve" is something we would not say.


Ça se rêve (not used) sums up the knot I have tied in my poor brain (pun, this is like a bad dream). I would really appreciate your help. I started off with Ça se peut plus tôt (then que needs to go in once or twice?) que ce que vous pensez. Is que ce que correct? Is it common? It really has not helped that my device, set for the English and French alphabets, keeps auto correcting to Spanish. Darkened room, anyone?


"...que ce que" is something you can use:

With a comparative construction:

  • J'ai plus d'amis que ce que tu penses (I have more friends than what you think)

With a restrictive construction (ne... que):

  • Je ne te dis que ce que je sais (I am telling you but/only what I know).


  • "sooner than you think" = "plus tôt que tu ne le penses".

Remember that "what" translates to "ce qui" (subject) or "ce que" (object) outside of interrogative constructions.

  • That's what I say = C'est ce que je dis
  • That's what is written = C'est ce qui est écrit.


Thank you so very much for your explanation. I had stumbled across 'plus tôt que tu ne le penses', on my 'que ce que' quest. Just for now, do you say this in a more flowing way, in everyday life, please. Que ce que can be surprisingly tricky for English speakers, within a lengthy sentence. However, understanding what I am saying has made a vast difference! Many thanks.


In Spanish we can form the passive with the reflexive pronoun "se", is this the same in French or is this something else?


It is FEASIBLE (able to be done) deemed incorrect. It is DOABLE - correct answer. Can anyone tell me the difference?


Both would be "c'est faisable" or "cela peut se faire", ie with verb "faire".

In this sentence, we have no context to interpret it as "doable/feasible".


Is this ok to use in an essay?


i said "it is doable" i didn't think it'd be accepted 0o0


Does this mean the same thing as peut-être or nah


Can this possibly be translated as "it will do" or "it can do"?


or "that'll do"?


Why isn't "That depends" acceptable? It means the same in English as "can be." and is more likely to be used.


would an equivalent be "that works"?

ie. "movie is Saturday at 2, that OK?" "that works"

"Le film est samedi à 2, n'est-ce pas?" "ça se peut"

or would that be wrong?


Should this specific sentance not be in a "phrase" category?


If we had put all phrases in the phrase category, we would have needed a 100-lesson unit. Unfortunately, we can't just add a bubble to every phrase saying "beware, this is a phrase!".


I'm struggling to get through this and some other earlier exercises as often the audio is silent when it says "Type what you hear" - do you have any suggestions how I can overcome this audio issue ?


Try reloading the app. Your work will be fine, you just sign in again. That fixed this issue for me. If you are on the website, try going into settings on your device to check your permissions. If you try playing a purchased music track, you can work out what is going on. Is it one site, or a few, occasional or happens for a while, then goes. Oddly, GENTLY tapping your device speaker with your finger, a few times, can fix problems.


Thanks a lot KJ - I'll give this a try and let you know how I get on.


why are there so many American flags shown? I thought Americans spoke English - shouldn't they therefore show the English flag? i might add, I am Australian but I would of course show the English flag when showing languages I speak


This is mostly American English being taught, as there are actually many differences in spelling (like color vs. colour) and some other things (like mom vs. mum). I think that if they put the U.K. flag some Brits might not be too thrilled.
(There have been some U.K. natives on other discussions that were rather unhappy with the English used in Duolingo.)


What is the matter with..."This may be possible"....?????


"It could be" is wrong?


It can be should work (present tense instead of conditional)


i said that could be and i got marked wrong


What would the negative version of this be? "Ça ne se peut pas"?


What would the negative version of this be? "Ça ne se peut pas"?


Yes, correct.

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