"Qu'en dites-vous ?"
Translation:What do you say about it?
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That's about the best English comparison. Another less used phrase would be what say you? However that would only work when in response to previous remarks whereas so, what about it? could also refer to previous actions or circumstances that were the subject of discussion.
There is an applicable entry in this about page on this: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/pron_adverbial_2.htm
En also replaces de + noun with verbs and expressions that need de. Again, in French, you must include either de + something or its replacement en, even though "about/of it" is usually optional in English.
What do you think about my idea? What do you think (about it)? Que penses-tu de mon idée ? Qu'en penses-tu ? Wrong: Que penses-tu ?
What are the consequences of this decision? What are the consequences (of it)? Quelles sont les conséquences de cette décision ? Quelles en sont les conséquences ? Wrong: Quelles sont les conséquences ?
"quand dites-vous ?" would miss something: the object, ie what the person would say, because "dire" is used with an object.
- quand dites-vous bonjour ? would work
"qu'en dites-vous ?" is not the same construction : "dire de qqch", ie "what do say about something?" - in this construction "en" expresses the English "about something".
I am a native French and English bilingual speaker.
It is often used as a rhetorical question form of "I told you so!", usually after the "destinataire" undergoes some unfortunate event/accident. The use of "vous" implies that the speaker has respect for the "destinataire" (the reader/the audience/the recipient).
It is also (more rarely) used authentically as asking what a someone's opinion/criticism is on a specific matter/topic. "Qu'en pensez-vous?" is more current for this meaning.
Direct translation: What (Qu') do you (vous) [have to] say (dites) about it (en)? Although the direct translation above (original post) is accurate, the "[have to]" seems to better encompass the French meaning, especially the fact that this short phrase can be provocative. *keep in mind that French expressions (not necessarily full-fledged idioms) tend to be quite ambiguous, and rely heavily on contexte and tone.
hopefully that helps, just passing through and saw some confusion in the comments
I don't know if it makes any difference in the translation, but in the sentence "what do you have to say about it" the phrase "do you have" implies possession. C'est-à-dire "what do you have that you would share about the subject." At least, that's what I think Michael Greyjoy meant.
I agree with you. But would you also agree that, inadvertently, by going through this process you've in fact learnt the difference?
Ultimately, as Sitesurf says, homophones exist in all languages and in speech it sounds the same but would be understood as "What..." because "When.... etc etc" doesn't make any sense without more information.
However, its grammatically possible to construct the sentence with quand, so there's also a recognition of that in the audio (at least, that's my take on it). Maybe what they should do to compromise is give an alternative English translation.
"But would you also agree that, inadvertently, by going through this process you've in fact learnt the difference? "
Yeah sure, but I should be able to rely on the lessons. I could have just as well said, "Oh, I guess 'Quand' means something like 'What about it'. Lesson learned!", and moved on. And that's terrible.
And like you say, they are homophones they need more information. And that is exactly what you are given here, more information.
And grammar shouldn't be the final ruling of correct language.
I believe it was reported that qu'en sounded like quand in the audio, but quand was initially marked as incorrect, so many people complained. They then made it correct in recognition of the homophone but didn't distinguish the meaning. So now what we have is a halfway house between the two.
I'd say report it again but also how would they rectify this problem whilst retaining the simplicity of the program and recognising the homophone? If you have a good suggestion, put to to Duolingo and it might be an acceptable change. I'm not good enough to think of an elegant solution myself.
I keep translating to English that makes sense stupidly... Apparently this is ok as "What do you say?" which as a stand alone sentence in English makes no sense. So I stupidly translated it to "What did you say?" to get it wrong but make way more sense in English.
Keep forgetting they want literal (but not sometimes...) translations.
In this case, its not really about being literal. Its about the simple idea of replacing previously introduced information with a pronoun. So "en" "y" are similar in that they're pronouns which replace content.
There's a logic to it - conversation can become more precise, concise flexible if used well. Its OK to decipher the English translation, but it's key to remember its function rather than just its translation, as French is very contextual & its difficult to get this concept right from one standalone sentence.
Ok, your insight is useful but the main issue for me remains the similarity of the pronunciation. Surely the course should acknowledge the conflict as well as the meaning when teaching the learner. For me, even though the translation of quand dites-vous doesn't make a lot of sense in French, its still difficult for a new learner to understand the difference in meaning without checking this forum or doing further research (which is not a bad thing in itself). The courses are becoming more tricky because there are many more of these aural conflicts.
There are homophones in all languages: see and sea for example, that you would probably not confuse, because they mean different things and there is always context when you use them. I agree that the lack of context in Duolingo makes things a bit harder for learners.
I can't work out what she's saying at all. Press the slow button and i think she should separate dites-vous into 2 words but it sounds like she's saying one word like veetvoo or reetroo or deetvoo. It would also help if she slowed down Qu' and en by leaving a gap. Isn't that what the slow mode is supposed to do? Show the gaps between the words, even those that run together in normal mode?