As I said before on this thread, there are 18 possible translations for "can you eat alone?". Duolingo has probably not anticipated so many variants!
"Can" or "may" translate "pouvoir", depending on context.
The inversion of Verb and Subject is the specific form of a question: can/may you eat alone?
What I see at the top of this page is a mix where the French version is casual "vous pouvez... ?" (Subject-Verb) whereas the English version is standard "can you...?" (Verb-Subject).
However, in French, you still have 3 ways of asking a question: formal - standard - casual:
- Pouvez-vous manger seul ?
- Est-ce que vous pouvez manger seul ?
- Vous pouvez manger seul ?
In addition, "can you eat alone" can be translated either with the familiar "tu", or the polite singular "vous" or the plural "vous", and all three alternatives can be feminine or masculine:
- Peux-tu manger seul ?
- Peux-tu manger seule ?
- Pouvez-vous manger seul ?
- Pouvez-vous manger seule ?
- Pouvez-vous manger seuls ?
- Pouvez-vous manger seules ?
To sum it up, there are 18 ways of translating "can you eat alone?"...
So you're saying that seul can't be plural unless it's in an inversion sentence? If not, you haven't really explained why it can't be vous poulez manger seuls.
No, that is not what I explained. The first part is about the 3 possible constructions of a question which all apply to the second part variants of gender and number.
That is why I said that there are 18 possible combinations.
I really am not trying to be difficult, but I still don't understand why the word "seul" in this case cannot be plural. Duo marked it wrong when I used "seuls" and insists that it must be singular and I'd like to know if there is a reason for that. Is it because, as you said previous, that the sentence is fine but Duo didn't anticipate that we'd translate it different ways?
What you can do if you disagree with Duo marking an answer wrong is click on the red flag in the banner that tells you if you're wrong or right and click "My answer should have been accepted." I don't think you get your heart back, but it helps Duolingo function better.
There may be a bug somewhere, depending on which exercise you had to do: write what you hear or translate or MCQ? Do you remember the context of this refusal?
I had to translate from the robovoice. It said "vous pouvez manger seul" and I typed seuls and it marked it wrong and said it should be singular.
Alright, I know now what the issue is: as you have noticed "seul, seule, seuls, seules" are homophones (same pronunciation).
Duo is currently working on a better way to filter homophones and accept variants, even if the original, written sentence used for dictation was not identical.
So, in the meantime, you have to memorize the gender and number of the "original, written" sentence so that you can write it down correctly when you get it in dictation.
Ok, so what if it is the first time it came up in that particular lesson? Once I lose a heart, I usually start over if it is in the beginning of the lesson.
is there any difference in pronunciation between seul and seuls (considering that it is the last word spoken)?
Plural -s endings are pronounced only when a liaison is needed.
So, "seuls" at the end of a sentences sounds like "seul".
If someone says "ses seuls amis", you should hear SEUL-Z-AMI
"could" is either preterit or conditional:
could you eat alone? = pouviez-vous / avez-vous pu or pourriez-vous manger seul ?
Yes, exactly. Very often, in speech, the French ask questions as if they were statements, only raising their voice on the last syllable so that it "sounds" as a question.
"manger" is the infinitive, non conjugated form or the verb.
"mangez" is used only with "vous" (polite singular or plural) in indicative present.
This is what I learned in French class: all verbs ending in "-er" mean, "to..." For example, "manger" would be "to eat". So wouldn't this sentence be translated as, "You can to eat alone"? I'm confused on this.
No, because after "can" (+ may, must, should, shall, will, would...) the English verb is used without "to".
Can anyone explain why "Can you eat alone?" is accepted as correct but "May you eat alone?" is not? I appreciate it is an odd way to say it in English but 'pouvez' could be translated as 'may' as well as 'can', I thought
"seul" is masculine singular, so it is necessarily "by yourself".
"by yourselves" = seuls or seules
Homophones need a special treatment and this one has not been treated yet. In the meantime, I will disable the "type what you hear" exercise.
I understand that 'Very often, in speech, the French ask questions as if they were statements, only raising their voice on the last syllable so that it "sounds" as a question.' but isn't it a speech from the street? Isn't it correct to say 'Can you eat alone?' in English? I don't mind learning slang, down to earth expressions, etc, I just want to know what is what.
Asking questions as if they were statements is not slang, just informal in spoken French. In writing, you should use "Est-ce que vous mangez seul(e)(s) ?", which is standard French. "Can you eat alone?" is the standard way of asking questions in English and it is accepted. However, "You can eat alone?" is possible, as an expression of surprise or disbelief.