"They seem to be bad."
Translation:Ils semblent mauvais.
Why aren't the adjectives in agreement with the subject? Elles - mauvaises, méchantes
mal = adjective = modifies noun
mauvais = adverb = modifies verb.
Ils semblent mauvais
Mauvais talks about what they seem to be not what they actually are.
mauvais modifies semblent.
méchant = mean, mauvais = bad. They are slightly different things, so why are both correct translations?
Shouldn't this be 'Ils semblent être mauvais'? Another phrase was 'He seems rich' which DL translated as 'Il semble être riche'. Some consistency would be nice.
The use of "être" is optional here with "semblent" or "paraissent" to translate "seem/look"
Sitesurf, I also assumed "être" was necessary except I used "avoir l'air". I wrote "Ils ont l'air être mauvais" but Duolingo didn't like the "être" and took it out.
So does that mean "avoir l'air" = "seems to be" so "être" is never needed because it is implied? How would you say "she seems (to be) happy"?
Avoir l'air is used without "être" in general, although you can use it:
elle a l'air d'être heureuse - elle a l'air heureuse
note a slight nuance with: elle a l'air heureux (only the "air"=appearance is happy).
elle semble (être) heureuse = elle paraît heureuse.
Note that être, paraître, sembler, devenir, demeurer and rester are "state verbs", meaning that they describe a situation or a state, so there is a lot in common among these verbs, to which we could easily add "avoir l'air".
Why not "Ils semblent malades" to mean "They seem to be bad" as bad could mean "ill" in this sentence?
"des maux" is indeed the plural of "un mal" - noun - meaning ill (noun), discomfort, illness, problem, issue...
- un mal de tête (headache) - des maux de tête (headhaches)
if "mal" does not have a determiner, it is either an adjective (mauvais, mauvaise, mauvais, mauvaises) after states verbs (être, sembler, paraître, devenir, rester) or an adverb after other verbs:
- they seem bad = ils semblent mauvais / elles semblent mauvaises
- this soup smells bad = cette soupe sent mauvais
So would ""Ils semblent être mal." work? This puts "mal" after the state verb "être". If so, how does agreement work in this case?
"sembler" is one of these verbs that do not need a preposition to introduce another verb in infinitive.
This is the whole list: aimer/aimer mieux, aller, compter, croire, daigner, devoir, entendre, espérer, faire, falloir, (s')imaginer, laisser, oser, penser, pouvoir, prétendre, savoir, sembler, sentir, valoir mieux, venir, voir and vouloir.