"Elles lisent seules."

Translation:They read alone.

December 30, 2012

This discussion is locked.


It sounds like this could be singular, she reads alone.


No, because the singular is "elle lit seule" (therefore you hear LI and not LIZ)


True, but it isn't possible to read alone in a group!


It could be a general statement about say your children who are all upstairs reading alone in their rooms. They are collectively reading alone even though they aren't together they are still as a group reading.


It is possible to read alone in a group. Alone simply means away from the general collective. A man might say to a woman "now we are alone" after they have walked out of a crowded room and into a room in which they are the only ones present. Likewise 2 people can read alone, if there is another group of people reading nearby of which they are not a part.


Wunel, as usual, makes a valid point to give reference to the phrase but hey folks, we are missing the point, purpose and reason here aren't we? We are NOT being taught how to construct cohesive meaningful sentences here. We are being taught, little by little, easy bit by easy piece, nugget by nugget, how to recognise verbs adjectives nouns and plurals in objective and subjective areas. There are black lions in this course, round (not spherical) oranges, choices for large, tall or fat dresses. It furthers us here to focus on the pertinent task of the specific lesson rather than whether it is "reasonable" that The Cow has a Red Foot or Two Yellow Shoes. However, far be it for little me to make the threads boring. :)


Jackjon's comment should be plastered across the head of all discussions, in mile-high sans serif. Let's keep the threads as boring, and thus as informative, as humanly possible.


Good point. Maybe it means they're all sitting in a group and each woman is reading a different book, alone.. as opposed to them reading one book together.


There is no possible interpretation of a singular "elle" here because the verb is audibly plural, nor that there is only one book for several women, because "seules" refers to the subject.

But remember that plural starts with 2, so if you have 2 women in a room, each one with a book, there is no problem saying that they are reading alone.


Maybe some further insight:

"elles lisent seules" means "they read (while being) alone" and also "they read on their own / by themselves", which means with no help/assistance.


When lit elides with seule, I don't hear a difference between lisent and lit


I would have to A/B the singular and plural versions to hear the difference. I find the female voice in the examples very difficult to hear subtleties but the male voice is very clear.


In my dialect, in English, this concept would most likely be expressed as "They read by themselves." That's the concept the speaker is trying to express. In any case, to distinguish plural from singular listen closely to the verb for clues.


This sounds exactly like the google translation, though. Duolingo "Elles lisent seules" sounds like Google's "Elle lit seule" whereas Google's "Elles lisent seules" is pretty obviously different. Am I missing something or is one of the sites wrong?


You have probably missed the Z at the end of "lisent" (lit = lee)


Could you check it out for me? I would appreciate it immensely. I thought I had a decent ear but perhaps I'm missing something subtle.

https://translate.google.com/#fr/en/elles%20lisent%20seules Sounds like "ell lee-zuh seul-uh"

https://translate.google.com/#fr/en/elle%20lis%20seule Sounds like "ell lee seul-uh"

Duolingo sounds like "ell leez seul-uh" but only now that I'm really paying attention to it; otherwise, it sounds like "ell lee seul-uh"

I guess I kind of answered my own question (I'm just missing something really subtle), but is it pronounced by a fluent speaker more like google translate or Duo?

Thanks a ton for all that you do.


Yes, there is a subtlety here:

When sound Z is directly followed by another "conflicting" consonant, such as sound S, there is a tiny [ə] inserted between them, otherwise Z-S would be indistinct.

So the plural sound for "lisent seules" is [lee-Z-ə-seul]

And the final -e- of "seule" or "seules" has no sound at all: [seul].


I do hear what could be taken for "El liz seul", but even so, how would I know what "lit" or its other forms mean this early into "learning French", especially when it comes to gender or plurality? It seems destined to trip up, which may be why it was chosen as a lesson here -- to point out such subtleties... ?


I too thought it was singular rather than plural. It sounded like the "s" (or "z", if you prefer) was a liaison between "lit" and "seule".

edit: I just now saw Sitesurf's reply about the subtlety of listening for the slight lingering on the s in "lisent seules".

I still think that out of context, this may be a bit too subtle a distinction.

Does this never happen? Would there always be a slight space between "lit" and "seule" for the singular version?


You should hear [leeZ-ə-Seul].


Please also try this sentence on forvo.com


Thank you, I do understand what to listen for now, Sitesurf. But my question is, would there ever be a case when a person says "lit seule" and it sounds like one word: "lee-seul"?


If the subject is il/elle or on, of course, "lit seul" sounds "lee-seul".


I appreciate the point, but on listening repeatedly at both speeds, I cannot convince myself that the speaker is enunciating a plural. Maybe my ears, maybe the recording.


There is very definitely no [ə] there in the female voice. There is perhaps slight gemination, i.e. [lissœl], which distinguishes it from lit seule [lisœl], but if it is there it is very subtle. And when I play it at slow speed, the [z] is not really there---you can perhaps hear, at the very most, the very start of a [z] before the audio cuts.


That's what I was listening for but because of her bad pronunciation, I only heard lit.


Thanks. Needs sharp hearing for this but probably becomes more evident with more content and practise.


No. It's there. I believe you. But I don't "hear" it on the audio.


Sadly, the feminine bot's voice can't be trusted for this detail, given the way it often speeds through its words.


you should destinguish it by the verb; elle lit [li], elles lisent [liS]


NO! there is a difference between "Lit" (LI) and "Lisent" (LIZ)! We can't confuse, the sounds is very different!!!


I do agree with you


Unless you listen to the slow version, you can't tell they meant the plural form... In the fast version there's no "z" at the end to be heard by any stretch of the imagination.


I agree in this case. A liaison "z" sound it was not. I heard "Elle LEE seule". The slow version is slightly better but still not clear enough to be certain. They should probably allow for both till they improve the audio.


"Elle LIT (lee) seule" and "ElleS LISENT (leez) seules" it's very different when you hear it in french by a real person


Even on "slower", it sounds like "lit", not like "lisent".


lit sounds like LI and lisent sounds like LIZ, the audio sounds fine to me you just have to listen our for the subtle differences


It would be very helpful to be told somewhere that the difference between this and the singular version of this sentence is that "lit" ends up sounding like "li" and "lisent" ends up sounding like "liz." I'd have no idea without reading the comments and it is a very subtle difference for a beginner to just be expected to pick up on.


But that is how Duo works. When you find something that is confusing or puzzling you go to the comments. That way you get the rule, convention or tip when you are ready to receive it.


Hi northernguy. Do you fancy Duo offering Boxing courses by the same method of working? :)


Years ago in a martial arts program the sensei told me I was not doing as good a job as I could in blocking his punches. I told him I was doing it as best I could. Whereupon he punched me in the nose with sufficient force to really, really annoy and shock me but not draw blood. Immediately my guard position improved considerably. Every time he came near me after that, when doing our drills, I could feel my reflexes speeding up and stance improve.


And of course you spoke French to him, as one does.


My response to his blow definitely wasn't Queen's English


Why does seules come after lisent in this case? It isn't a predicate (lisent isn't a linking verb, that is), and it isn't a direct object. In fact, "seules" seems to be working as an adverb, not an adjective, in this case. Can anyone clarify?


elles lisent (en étant) seules = they read (while being) alone = they read by themselves

"seules" remains an adjective, which has to agree with the subject.


Could this not be "the women read alone?" since it is "elles" we know it is femanine?


Why on earth do you want to change what does not have to be changed? If Duolingo expected "the women read alone", they would have proposed "les femmes lisent seules".


It seems like if they are going to use elles instead of ils we should have some way of acknowledging that they are all female. Isnt that the only reason to use elles here?


The point to take away from this is that "elles" is NEVER translated as "the women" or "the girls".


Perhaps the group is made up of women and young girls? I could only be "they" as a groups of females of all ages. It doesn't really matter anyway.


So nous is masculine (seuls) and elles feminine (seules)? It was a multiple choice and I got it wrong, just wanted to be sure why...


"nous" and "ils" are masculine if the group consists of men only or a mix of men and women.

"nous" and "elles" are feminine if the group consists of women only.


Why 'seules' and not 'seuls'?


Because it is feminine


I heard elle lit seul... anyone with me


To be hear it clear,the point is elles li-Z seules?


that's right!


I just wrote "Ils lisent seules" on a different prompt and was corrected to "Ils lisent seuls." But here it's "Elles lisent seules".

So do we use seules for feminine plural, but seuls for masculine plural AND gender non-specified plural?


And, for your information, "gender non-specified" does not exist in French.


I think you're misunderstanding me. I mean, for example, a group that has both males and females in it uses the default masculine plural.


The point is that if you use "ils", you must use the matching "seuls". With "elles", you would use "seules".


Why not "The girls are reading alone?"


Because it need not be the girls, it could be the women, the female students or any other group of females. So we simply say they.


Thanks beaucoup!


"Elles" is never translated as "the girls" or "the women".


Is there a reason why it is "seules" as a (plural) adjective modifying women instead of an adverb modifying "lisent"?


Please look at the 2 posts below. If this is not enough, please come back to me and I'll explain some more


Thanks, I understand why it would be feminine plural because of the subject "les femmes." It just seems to me that in the sentence "the women read alone," "alone" refers more to how they are reading rather than the women themselves--as such the question as to adverb vs. adjective.

I guess the question is more along the lines of, would it be okay to translate using an adverb to modify "to read" rather than an adjective to modify "the women"? Would it not have the same general meaning? (assuming that, at this point, we had learned how to form adverbs, which we have not.)


We can not apply this logic in any Romanic Language. There is no rhyme nor reason, it just is.Romanic linguistcs do not follow logic.


is there a difference between seules and seuls?


Seules describing a feminine plural noun, Seuls describing a masculine plural noun. Here they both mean Alone.


Shouldn't it be "Elles lisent tout seules?" Seules is an adjective, it can't describe a verb. Unless you were to translate it "They, alone, read" or "Alone, they read." "They read alone" doesn't make clear what alone is modifying, they or read.


In this sentence, "tout" is an adverb and as such it should remain invariable, but it can agree in gender and number.

The agreement rules for "tout" as an adverb, modifying an adjective, with the meaning of "completely/entirely/very/really", are complex:

In front of an adjective starting with a consonant sound (consonant or aspirate H): agreement in feminine singular and plural

  • il est tout seul - ils sont tout seuls
  • elle est toute seule - elles sont toutes seules
  • il est tout honteux - ils sont tout honteux (ashamed) (no T liaison)
  • elle est toute honteuse - elles sont toutes honteuses (no S liaison)

In front of an adjective starting with a vowel sound (vowel or non-aspirate H): invariable

  • il est tout étonné - ils sont tout étonnés (with a T liaison)
  • elle est tout étonnée - elles sont tout étonnées (with a T liaison)
  • il est tout habité - ils sont tout habités (with a T liaison)
  • elle est tout habitée - elles sont tout habitées (with a T liaison)

When "tous/toutes" means "all", meaning that the adjective modifies every individual: agreement in gender and number:

  • ils sont tous contents (the S is heard) - all of them are happy
  • elles sont toutes contentes - all of them are happy
  • ils sont tous habitués (he S is heard) - all of them are used to it
  • elles sont toutes habituées - all of them are used to it


Please may I stick an oar in here? To complement Sitesurf's amazingly comprehensive post; according to my N.M. Gwynne's (MA Oxon) English Grammar, in this task sentence the adjective "alone" has become an adverb describing both the pronoun "They" and the verb "read". Good English grammar in "my book".


The sound on my computer—which is pretty high end—often doesn't deliver the nuances of singular and plural. I listened to this at slow speed, twice. Still couldn't hear the plural on the verb... :(


I agree - I listened a few times because I thought this could be singular or plural.


The singular verb is "lit" = LEE and the plural "lisent" sounds LEEZ


Exactly. And these users---like myself, and like many others commenting here---only get [li] when we play it at slow speed, which is lit. I think I hear what could be the very start of a [z], but it's as if the last ~0.5 seconds of the word is missing.


OK. "Elle lit seule" is wrong. But the quality of the sound, once it arrives via the internet to my expensive earphones, isn't good enough to hear the plural... :(


I have a difficult time understanding the woman's voice. I frequently play it many times. Then I listen to the slow version, which sometimes makes it better. But sometimes I thing the audio is distorted or truncated. In this case, I cannot hear "Lisent" at all. After many repetitions, I still hear Elle lit seule. Even the slow version, I have to struggle and use some imagination to hear "lisent" (liz). But, perhaps that is how normal french sounds. I suppose that will probably just have to get used to it.


The woman's voice is good but the TTS is sometimes, let's say, suboptimal. Just like the man (I can hear his voice here, not the woman's), she should have added a schwa at the end of "lisent" so that the consonant sounds Z-S are not merged.

To clearly enunciate, she should say "EL LIZuh SEUL" or even "ELuh LIZuh SEUL".

More about the French schwa: https://frenchcrazy.com/2013/04/the-french-schwa.html/


I listened to the French version of this sentence several times and could not hear the /z/ in lisent indicating several girls. I put "Elle lit seule.


i cant hear the difference between "lisent" and "lit"


Sounds like singular...


No, it does not:

elle lit [LEE] seule


elles lisent [LIZ] seules


Why is SEULES?l think it should be SEUL


SEUL is masculine singular

ELLES is feminine plural, so SEULES has to agree in feminine and plural.


Why can't it be "They only read"?


Incomplete English, Tkk. It needs, "They're only reading" or "They only read fiction" (etc). The French task just doesn't translate to this.


they're only reading = elles lisent seulement / elles ne font que lire / elles se contentent de lire

they only read fiction = elle lisent seulement de la fiction / elles ne lisent que de la fiction


why is "seuls" not acceptable?


Because Seuls refers to a masculine......"Ils" Not "Elles".


I agree, this can be translated as singular without further context


No, "elleS liSENT" is definitely plural. The singular is "elle lit".


You're right about what would be written, however we are being asked to translate the spoken and the s in elles and the ending is lisent are silent, so pronunciations of the singular and plural are almost identical, the difference is too subtle, so how can you tell the difference, it requires further information, context.


Please use the loudspeaker above, on the left side of the sentence, and focus on LISENT. You should hear [leeZuh].


Thank you for that, I won't forget that again, merci!


@ Sitesurf. Well here is a first. I Always can hear the subtleties but not this time. I have played it over and I still hear "Ell Lee Seul". Not to be out done, I went to other pronunciation sites and Still heard "Ell Lee Seul" even in slo-mo. I don't do the audio app but on this one occasion I very much doubt whether I could have detected from audio only whether it was singular or plural.


@JJ: actually there is a difference even here between the man's voice (clearer) and the woman's voice (blurred).


JackJon, I don't know why there is no reply button on your posts. Some on these discussion boards also said the male announcer at times pronounces words with an extra flourish on the end, not sure if that is what you are referring to. Doubt if that flourish is necessary. I don't exactly understand what you are asking, as it is in French!!! Sorry. I still say so many words are jumbled up together, it just seems part of the way they speak.


@Sitesurf and Shirlgirl. OK. I could not get the male voice. Still can't. I do take your words for it of course. Thank you for the responses and please know that I went for this forensically out of love and respect for this course.


I do hear the difference. It's not very obvious with the female voice here, but it is there. It's really obvious with the male voice, so when you manage to get that you should be able to hear it. And don't worry, I've had arguments with courses in the past. :-)


I got them both. The male voice is very clear in pronouncing the ə after the z [elle liːsə søl], however the woman only seems to pronounce two s's in a row (not one long) [elle liːssøl].


Yes, I just heard the man's voice, and I hear leezuh, much more clear, if that is what you were asking..


This sentence sounds a bit weird. Because they are for plural. Just my opinion though...


I pronounce "lisent" exactly as the woman says it, but it fails to register as correct. Either she's wrong too or the question needs to be fixed


If i hit the microphone and then replay the sentance, it still says it sounds wrong.


Really? What does it mean?!?


Tereza, what does "What" mean? Long to help but just don't understand your query.


I still can't heard the difference in 'Elle' and 'Elles' on this program. It sounds the same. I don't know why they won't accept the singular version as well, when the vocal track sounds completely fine singular. Does anyone know a trick to catching when they use plural verses singular 'Elle' here?


Please scroll up for detailed explanations.

In a nutshell, the S added to pluralize words (nouns, pronouns, adjectives) is mute.


Wouldn't this technically be considered an adverb since they're talking about how they are reading, which is alone?


Yet another multiple choice question without the correct answer offered as one of the choices. So far today I have encountered four examples of this and have only managed to complete one section if questions. Duolingo PLEASE CHECK THE MULIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS for an English speaker learning French. Via an iPad. This is extremely frustrating!


Oh gosh, I do feel your pain.. Is there not an option for such an error on the report a problem button? I cannot recall the exact wording, but something along the lines of the answer is wrong or has an error.


When you are given an audio such as this you should not be marked as incorrect when you give the answer as she reads alone - elle lit seule as it sounds exactly the same!


The pronunciation is terrible, as is so much on this French programme. It could easily be 'elle lit seule' because 'lit' could run into 'seule'.


Another multiple choice error.Seules missed from the sentence but not offered as a possible answer. When working via google chrome I find that there are no multiple choice errors at all but on my iPad there are dozens.


I barely can hear any other "S" except the "S" in " Seules"


if I have to write they(Ils) are reading themselves is it ils lisent seuls?


i just accidentally typed in seuls instead of seules but duolingo took it as a right answer!!! I'm really confused. probably a glitch?


Hmm. Duo moving from leniency to laxism?


haha. or maybe a very advanced mind reading mechanism in which they won't bother you if they know you're aware of your own mistake?


I found it very difficult to discern to plural version. Without pronouncing endings which helps in English, it is harder to


I think the only audible difference for the plural is 'leez' rather than 'lee' for the verb.


BUT! When it is played slowly YOU clearly heat LI A mistake that needs correcting.


I wrote: They read by themselves. It was marked wrong. Why? I could be talking of a few children who needed help with their reading but are now able to read by themselves - without help. Please respond.


This is an accepted translation, so you probably had a typo somewhere.

Did you report it during the exercise?


I said those girls are reading alone and it counted me wrong. This is just simply incorrect. The only situation in which you would use Elles is if it is a group of girls and only girls. Therefore, those girls is a direct translation of elles, while they could be refering to ils as well as elles.


The French sentence has "elles", not "ces filles". We don't know that "elles" are girls; we only know that they are female human beings. Therefore, your suggestion is an interpretation, not a translation.


I know this is an old discussion, but if you listen to the slowed down audio, she clearly says Elle LI Seule. There is no Z sound, nor elision, as Sitesurf explains below.


I just got Elles lisent seuls accepted. I do not think it is correct. I think it should be seules. I reported it as unnatural french because there is no option for incorrectly accepted answer.


The over-lenient grading system might have been programmed to consider your error as a typo. Too bad!

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