That is pretty much the story, Don. In English, we don't go around saying "I command" but it was deemed a simple way to help learners remember the core idea of the verb "commander". But we must also remember that it is not always about ordering people about or being in charge, to wit, "Je commande une pizza."
The French "commander" can be used for "ordering" something in a restaurant or to place an order (je vous ai commandé une veste = I ordered a jacket for you) and it can also mean "to be in charge" or "to be in command". Much of the time, the verb is transitive (requires an object) but "je commande" is simple enough: "I am in charge". So it depends on where it is used and the context. But it is quite normal and proper in the right context.
Sometimes English translations are put in place by native French speakers who may not be fully aware of how awkward or unnatural some sentences are in English. In time, we find them and correct them. So the Duolingo of today is not the same as the Duolingo of three years ago.
This is a course in French for beginners. This means that the lot is more (or should be) about grammar than anything else. Discussing the meaning of phrases or what's suspected to be a common phrase is doing step 2 or 3 before step 1. Learn the words, then the usage of them (= conjugation and declination) before starting to discuss semantics, I reckon. Viewed from that perspective one can begin to understand why ants as well as elephants eat apples and why everything is either red or black.
With so many questions and answers I'm coming to one of my trusted sources. I get this means "I am in charge" but why wouldn't we also say "Je suis command" When someone asks me what nationality I am I say "Je suis americenne " (misspelling that) Is the difference because one is referring to a verb and the other a noun?
Hi, Tara. You are very kind. I think you already have the answer (about the verb vs. noun). Let's look at the verb "commander" by itself. It has a few different meanings, but one of them is simply "to be in command" or "to be in charge". So when one says "Je commande", it means "I am in charge". If we are thinking "I am in charge" in English and that we need to translate each and every word, we will end up with some really bad French, the kind that is met with blank stares from your listeners. So we not only have to learn how the verbs are conjugated but how it may take several words in English to say what one word means in French. I sometimes watch the Agatha Christie mysteries of the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. It's funny to see the very clever detective use French syntax when speaking English. But it also provides insight into how French is quite different in so many ways and how we have to think differently in order to speak it correctly.
I think this is better translated as "I order" as in "I order a meal in a restaurant."
With a lot of Duolingo sentences, I find it really helps to think in context of a picture book for small children. Visualize a picture of a small child on a high seat in a restaurant talking to the waiter. "I order!" That is, my dad doesn't have to do it for me.
"I am a bee" makes more sense this way too.
For many verbs, we're stuck with childish sentences until we have the past tense.
The alternative is rather complex sentences and situations. E.g. "When I go to a restaurant I always follow the same plan. First I take a seat. Then I ask for a beer. I read the menu. I order. And then . . ."
Yes, I know (though I still have much to improve, English has been my second language for more than twelve years now) I was actually wondering about the true meaning of this sentence in French... "Je commande!", is that really something anyone would say when they're about to order something? Is it polite to say "I am in charge" like this? Unlike others, most of the time I can imagine lots of uses for the sentences we're given, but I need to know if what I imagine makes sense to a native speaker or not...
It means that you are the person who is responsible. Your duty is to lead, direct, guide, and give orders to tell people who work for you what to do. If things go well, you will be recognized for doing a good job. If things do not go well, you will be held responsible and may take the blame for the failure.
OK, I've read the posts below. At a restaurant one "orders" from the menu. This is how it is used in France or other Francophone regions. It is for this commonplace situation that one learns "commander" and its conjugations. Vous etes pret a commander, monsieur? Sorry, no accents available here.
Only at the end of a confrontation would this little sentence carry any weight as "That's an order". So context will help to interpret it. But there's no need to take it to such an extreme. For example, there is nothing out-of-line about someone saying "I'm in charge" when they are in fact in charge.
I translated it to "I command it!", which I think has a parallel in French adding "du/des" in cases where English doesn't require an article. For instance, Duolingo wouldn't give me credit if I said "Je mange oignons" because that would be a word for word translation from English.