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Ce sont vs. ils sont

Why is it correct to say ce sont des hommes and not ils sont des hommes? Duolingo says the correct translation for they are men is ce sont des hommes.

July 10, 2015



If there's a determiner before the noun, ce+être is used. In that case, there's a determiner, the indefinite article des, so "ce sont des hommes" is correct. You can find the list of determiners in French here: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/determiners.htm


Under http://www.duolingo.com/skill/fr/Verbs:-Être / Avoir it talks about the pronoun Ce sont

Also under http://www.duolingo.com/skill/fr/Demonstratives-1 Tips and Tricks, it talks about :

Ce is one of the most confusing words in French because it serves so many roles. Don't confuse the demonstrative adjective ce with the pronoun ce (which you learned in "Être-Avoir"). An adjective must modify a noun, while a pronoun can stand alone as a subject or object. Compare:

Adjective: Ces hommes sont mes amis. — These men are my friends. Pronoun: Ce sont mes amis. — They are my friends.

In the first example, ces is an adjective that modifies hommes, but in the second, ce is a subject pronoun that essentially replaces ces hommes.

And a different link for the definition of determiners. i.e. le/la, les, un/une, des, du/de la , de l', des , mon/ma/mes, son/sa/ses, etc.

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