"Je ne suis pas un oiseau, mais j'aimerais en être un."

Translation:I am not a bird, but I would like to be one.

October 3, 2013

70 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pastafarianist

What does «en» do here? It seems sufficient to say just «j'aimerais être un».

October 3, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

No, it is not sufficient in French.

"en" is a pronoun avoiding repetitions: here, it replaces "oiseau".

October 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/no1uno

So then why is the "un" present here? It would seem to the non-French ear that one or the other would do the trick.

December 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

It is just that the French language is strictly structured and you cannot say "j'aimerais être un".

December 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/no1uno

Thanks for your patience, Sitesurf

December 31, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

No, that translation "j'aimerais en être un" correctly translates "I would like to be one" (or I wish I were one)

March 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Harri725785

But why not ""j'aimerais en être"

April 10, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexanderI2

Sitesurf, thank you! Seems I got lost in the discussion

March 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/no1uno

Sorry. What I meant to ask was whether you could just say "j'aimerais en être" ... leaving off the "un" entirely.

December 31, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

"j'aimerais en être" means something else: "I would like to be part of it"

December 31, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/shotz87

so why can't I say "i would like to be one of them" ? isn't that what "en" also stands for?

August 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/natan93

No, "en" = of a particular thing, place or time.

"J'aimerais EN être" = "I would like to be part of something".

Hence the expression "J'en suis" meaning "Count me in". It literally means "I'm (part) of it"

"J'aimerais EN être UN(E)" = "I would like to be one (of a particular thing)". The "of a particular thing" is obligatory in French.

Eg. Je ne suis pas UN oiseau, mais j'aimerais EN être UN.

"En être un" means "to be one (of a particular thing). Just think of it as a fixed expression.

October 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/willijanb

Here is the way I understand it (but I am a learner, not an expert):

un=one, en=of them.

"I would like to be ONE, OF THEM."

In English, we do not require saying "of them," but in French, that is required. This is what the "en" is there for.

June 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JordanOsr

Is there a particular restriction on where "en" must be placed in the sentence structure?

August 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1776

When used as an adverbial pronoun, as it is here, it is placed before the verb to which it relates. There are many examples in the link in my previous comment.

August 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Here is a better translation for your quote:

  • how do you know she's a witch? = comment savez-vous que c'est une sorcière ?

  • she looks like one! = on en dirait une !

October 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/petemehegan

It is correct to say that one doesn't look to subtitles for good grammar. "En" would be said here.I would have said, "Elle en a l'air."

October 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NogoBogo

One question: I saw that the translation for the line from Monty Python that goes

"How do you know she's a witch?" "She looks like one!"

is:

"Comment savez-vous qu'elle est une sorcière?" "Elle ressemble à une!"

This has "one" as an object pronoun like the sentence here, so why isn't "en" used here?

October 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Geimle
  • 1582

That may be exactly so, but if that's what you type, it marks it wrong. We don't have to say "of them" in English. But we can. It should be accepted.

July 30, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1776

So you want to say "of them" because of the French use of "en"? It is indeed needed to be grammatically correct in French, but it is not at all natural English to say that.

July 30, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/noxfarm01

Cool sentence.

Je ne suis pas un ours polaire, mais j'aimerais en être un !

May 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gavier

vous pouvez etre un ours polaire s'il vous plait!

July 12, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mariec523718

"Vous pouvez être un ours polaire si -cela- vous plaît." ;) Bon couage !

January 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hyllning

Je peux rêver..

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gruamaire

"Un homme peut rever, pourtant, un homme peut rever..." - Prof. Farnsworth

May 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/petemehegan

Tiens. Ça j'aime bien.

May 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dwarkanath

"I would love to be one" was marked incorrect.

July 13, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

I would love to be one = j'adorerais en être un

aimer (bien/beaucoup) + inanimate objects (or concepts) = like

July 13, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zackayak

As English speakers often use 'love' and 'like' interchangeably, I still think both should be marked here as correct translations.

August 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sean.mullen

No... English speakers don't use "like" and "love" interchangeably! The difference is one of degree and emphasis. Is "dislike" interchangeable with "hate"? "Happy/content" interchangeable with "overjoyed," "ebullient", etc? If you would love to be a bird, that's semantically different from saying you would like to be a bird -- you are ignoring the nuances and emphases that make any language rich with shades of meaning.

January 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LindaB_Duolingo

A-ha! Inanimate objects! OK! je n'ai jamais compris pourquoi on peut dire "je t'aime" - I LOVE you - mais 'j'aime les oiseaux' - ça veut dire LIKE. [Même en Angleterre, tout le monde connait 'Je t'aime'.]

Hmm. Les oiseaux ne sont pas vraiment 'inanimate', n'est-ce pas? OK. Aimer = love quand on parle de personnes, oui? Ou c'est plus compliqué? :)

September 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

If you like birds: j'aime les oiseaux

If you love them: j'adore les oiseaux

I assume pets deserve being treated as humans when it comes to feelings, because "I love my cat" = "j'aime mon chat" OR "j'adore mon chat".

With humans, adding "bien" or "beaucoup" to aimer, makes it change from love (je t'aime) to like (je t'aime beaucoup).

Just for the anecdote, we have 6 steps to pluck a daisy: "il/elle m'aime, un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie, pas du tout." - a whole range of romantic feelings...

September 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LindaB_Duolingo

J'adore ça! Merci beaucoup de la marguerite. Aussi en Angleterre - I love you lots, I love you to bits - does not really mean I love you PS J'ai commencé un nouveau dossier avec celui-ci - The Wisdom of Sitesurf. :)

September 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/milesnagopaleen

I don't know if DL accepts it but "I am not a bird, but I would like to be" is a perfectly good translation as well

May 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

Your English sentence out of context would explain why the French require at least of hint of what any given sentence is talking. about.

I am not a bird but I would like to be....leaves the possibility of ...like to be able to fly like a bird, be able to sing like a bird etc.

The French sentence in this example has two (count em, two) units that show he wants to actually be a bird. No context required. He wants to be a bird, no doubt about it. He wants to be one (bird) of them (birds). Duo allows you to drop the of them, (en) but not one (un).

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1776

That answer is accepted.

July 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mammad99

What an interesting discussion forum this one is. It totally distracted me from the task at hand: The lesson. OK, now au boulot !

December 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenMizrahi0

Yes, that sentence is about me.

March 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CvetelinaH

If i want to say this in plural "EN" would be replaced by witch word? Ils ne sont pas des oiseaux, 1} ... mais ils aimeraient etre une partie d'eux 2}..... mais ils aimeraient les etre une partie Are my suggestions correct, or i just write a very stupid thing?

April 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Plural version:

  • with "nous": nous ne sommes pas des oiseaux, mais aimerions en être.

  • with "ils/elles": ce ne sont pas des oiseaux, mais ils/elles aimeraient en être.

"en" replaces a plural noun used as the subject 'attribute' (a noun that gives 'attributes to the subject after state verbs, like être, sembler, rester).

If the 'attibute' is an adjective:

  • je ne suis pas riche mais j'aimerais l'être ("le" replaces the adjective)
  • in plural with "nous": nous ne sommes pas riches mais nous aimerions l'être (ditto)
  • in plural with "they": ils/elles ne sont pas riches mais ils/elles aimeraient l'être.
April 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CvetelinaH

merci beaucoup, Sitesurf :)

April 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Basilious

I see that you are using 'des' instead of 'de' in a 'ne ... pas' structure. Is this usage correct?

September 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

With verb être, yes it is, because what follows verb être is not a direct object, but a descriptor.

  • j'ai un oiseau - je n'ai pas d'oiseau(x)
  • je suis un oiseau - nous ne sommes pas des oiseaux
September 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Basilious

Thank you for clearing that up for me. There is just too many rules to the French language, that sometimes I feel lost.

September 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ArdeJohnson

I desperately, desperately need to be able to find this thread back at any later time.

January 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1776

You can click on "Follow Discussion" at the top of the page. Any new comment on this page will be forwarded to you.

March 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Janatidenphobie

Why not "I am not bird but i would love to be one" ?

I would translate "Je voudrais" with "I would like" and "J'aimerais" with "I would love".

Does that make sense?

January 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

I would love to be one = j'adorerais en être un

aimer (bien/beaucoup) + inanimate objects (or concepts) = like

January 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrancesDav3

'I should like to be one' came naturally to me in this context but was marked wrong.

January 29, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LindaB_Duolingo

Hi, Frances

Yes, they don't seem fond of 'shall' and 'should'. Sounds fine to me.

I should report it if I were you! :)

February 5, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 1776

You may prefer to say "I should like" when what you mean is "I would like". Without getting technical, "should" is usually used as the conditional of FR devoir. Any other verb uses "would" in the conditional,. J'aimerais (or) Je voudrais = I would like.... Except that the conditional of "pouvoir" uses "could". It's understood that in formal BrE, "should" is used as a polite way of saying "would".

March 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FearAsAnt-Oilean

could you say; "Je voudrais en etre?

May 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

No, because "je voudrais en être" back translates to "I would like to be in", in a context where a project is presented to you and you volunteer to be part of it.

May 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/petemehegan

Why does duolingo dislike the word "love" for aimer? "I would love to be one" is called wrong, over and over again! How would you say, "I would love to be one," other than, "J'aimerais en être un."

September 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sean.mullen

It's not just that Duolingo dislikes it; you are also wrong. Aimer ONLY means love when talking about people or pets; otherwise, it means "like". To say "I would love to be one", it is: « J'adorerais en être un. »

September 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CSA_GW

Once I heard a Quebecois said " J'en ai pris un" when she was asked if she had taken a drink. It took me quite a while to configure her exact phrase.

"en" here looks like the same usage.

My question is: Is it a general role to MUST have "en" there when a quantity is involved?

August 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Yes it is.

  • j'en ai pris = I had some
  • j'en ai pris un(e) = I had one
  • j'en ai pris plusieurs = I had several
August 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CSA_GW

Merci!

August 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KaptianKaos8

Quel est la differance entre <<j'aimerais>> et <<je voudrais>>?

August 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sean.mullen

Really, there is none. There has been a lot of debate over the two words online, but at the end of the day, it comes down to preference. Both can translate to "I would like".

August 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KaptianKaos8

Intréssant...

August 10, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Libellule808

Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly. Far, far away from here.

January 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/redseadragon

Exactly

September 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Milezinator

I think this is the best sentence I've ever seen on Duolingo, other than the one for the Norwegian course, "There is a man with a knife hiding behind the curtain"

April 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/UrsulineParry

It is a well known fact that Norway is full of serial killers. Most Norwegians are assiduous with regards to checking behind their curtains.

July 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alejandro.Steve

"I am not a bird, but I would love to be one"

Is the difference between 'like' and 'love' here really so important so as to not accept the answer?

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf
February 3, 2019
Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.