"C'est un garçon bien."

Translation:He is a decent boy.

December 30, 2012

This discussion is locked.


What is the difference between "c'est un garçon bien" and "c'est un bon garçon?" When is one or the other more appropriate?


In my opinion, "un garçon bien" has to do with the boy's moral values. "Un bon garçon" is a nice boy, contrary to a "bad boy".


wouldn't both fall under the BANGS rule or is it an exception (or am i misunderstanding "Goodness" in BANGS?)



BANGS isn't really a rule. It is a tool to simplify the application of a set of rules.

The rule is: subjective, figurative adjectives go in front, objective literal adjectives go after. Since most adjectives that fall under BANGS are subjective/figurative the tool works most of the time.

The subjective/figurative vs. objective/literal distinction is intended to get at the function of adjectives in front of nouns referring to inherent qualities whereas adjectives that go after the noun classify it some way.

Do you think he is a good boy because it is his inherent nature to be good (subjective) or because he acts in a good way so you classify him as good. (objective)

I think in most conversations, most people will not pay much attention to the difference most of the time. However there are rules to deal with it when it does make a difference and this example shows that the rules are there.

Sitesurf says only about ten percent of adjectives qualify to be moved from one side of the noun to another. That means BANGS will work most of the time and only in test situations will anybody much care when it doesn't.

Unfortunately, we are in a test situation.


@Northernguy: BANGS is a "mnemonic".


Yes. I know. I have dozens of them. The current ones are sort of random.

I have actually just started using excel to develop hundreds, maybe thousands of them, in a systematic way.

For anyone interested in how to accumulate so many mnemonics, the system I use is called memory palace. It is like reconstructing a physical journey through a familiar setting like a building in your memory and attaching desired data to way stations along the route.

It is an ancient technique combined with modern neuroscience. There is more to it of course but that is the access process. Using related techniques to lay down the memories is a large part of it.

Professor Metivier has made a career out of teaching it but memory champions all over the world use variations of it in their competitions.


Huge task! Well done!


"because he acts in a good way so you classify him as good. "- even behavious is subjective. What to one guy might be good might be bad to another.


But the speaker has judged it to be good. The speaker says that he is classifying the behavior as good. By placing the adjective after the noun he is implicitly classifying behavior rather than making a judgement about character.

He looks at relatively objective data such as behavior and judges it to be good. He may be wrong but that doesn't affect what it is that he is talking about.


just want to say that was a superb answer, thanks


Is this rule for french, spanish, Portuguese and Italian?


for portuguese it doesn't matter where you place it, it could be "um garoto bom" or "um bom garoto"


In addition, "bien" is an adverb, used as an adjective here in this phrase. So, it follows the general rule and is placed after the noun.

"un garçon/homme bien" means that he has moral values.


Both Collins and 'La Trésor de la langue française' call 'bien' in this usage an 'adjectif invariable', rather than an adverb.


It does not much matter whether it is called an "adjectif invariable" or "adverbe utilisé comme adjectif".

I suspect that "c'est un homme/un garçon... bien" is shortened from "c'est un XX bien né, bien éduqué, bien élevé" which might have lost its adjective with time and usage.


Which is to say it looks, sounds and functions exactly like the adverb that it is everywhere else, even though when it is following the verb to be and sense verbs, it is technically an adjective.


Where do we get the general rules . DL has no introduction , we just come across these things along the way randomly


Duo uses translation exercises as an instructional method. In that system grammar issues are resolved in the discussion pages. Most groupings in Duo have a couple of paragraphs of tips an notes at the beginning of the first lesson of that group.

I don't think that they are available in the app. The new look with crowns has also rendered the discussion pages difficult to read on my desktop but that may vary with others. Possibly Duo used apple computers to design web pages viewed mostly with p.c. browsers.


If you access duolingo via the website instead of the app you can get a general introduction to each topic when you click on it. The icon looks like a lightbulb.


Sorry if it is a lame question, but what BANGS means in this context?



A method of quickly categorizing adjectives to determine if they should be placed in front of the noun.



Number (but with lots of exceptions)

Goodness or badness

Size (except with people)

B.A.N.G.S., as described, pretty well captures those adjectives which are subjective/figurative or are inherent qualities of the noun and therefore should be placed in front.

Adjectives which are objective/literal and serve to classify the noun go after the noun. These types of adjectives do not usually fall into the B.A.N.G.S convention. Some people refer to it as the B.A.G.S. tool because Numbers provides so many common exceptions.

Some ten per cent of adjectives can go either in front or after depending on the intended meaning.



  • Le dernière année - The last and final year.
  • L'année dernière - Last/previous year.


@Typo3000 OK, the cardinal number of "first" is "one", the cardinal number of "second" is "two". What's the cardinal number of "last"?


Can you provide an exception using a number? I can't think of a single one!


@Typo3000 « dernière » is not a number. It is a positional adjective.


@CJ.Dennis It's an ordinal number, which is also an adjective.


I would like to edit my comment above from a couple of years ago which is causing some dispute.

I said in the post that Numbers provides common exceptions. I would like to edit it to read ...appear to be common exceptions.

Whatever actually constitutes a real...number...some words would appear to fall into the Numbers category but are treated in French as if they are not for whatever reason. Because of that I recommend not including the N in BANGS.

But anyone who has read this thread this far should feel free to do whatever they want with my recommendation since they now thoroughly understand the issue.


@CJ.Dennis Alright, you got me. I was wrong.


What's BANGS stand for? I learned BAGS (Beauty, Age, Greatness, Size)


What N stands for in BANGS is covered in this thread that you are responding to. Perhaps you mean you don't understand why it is included or if it should be.


BANGS RULE ? What is that please elaborate. Merci


It has already been covered on this page.


That's exactly how I've heard it used.


As in, "this is a boy 'for' the good" vs simply "this is a good boy"?


No, "for the good" does not make sense here. It is more like "He is a good (in the sense of "well raised" or "well educated" or even just "born well") boy." as opposed to "well behaved" which would be "C'est un bon garçon." Of course, one would expect him to be well behaved also if he were brought up well, but a boy could make a mistake and this could be said to indicate that it is not how he usually acts.


Can you elaborate on your opinion on what "Un garcon bien" means when you say it has implications of his moral values,,THANKS!


A well-raised boy would hopefully have good moral values, but he might have made a mistake and not currently be a "good" boy at the moment, although most likely he would usually be good and if he erred would feel badly about it.


Isn't a 'bad boy' one with poor moral values, which may well result in bad behavior? I still don't see how one good, bien, is different from the other good, bon.


Maybe he is just absent minded. He is a bad boy because he always leaves the door ajar and the animals get out. You classify him as bad for the purposes of a particular comment or conversation but everyone understands he isn't inherently bad in a moral sense. He isn't deliberately leaving the door open just so he can get attention or cause disruption.


« bon » is "good", « bien » is "well". Sitesurf explains the difference at the top of this page.


You meant by that, his physical attractivenesss? Un bon garçon


The phrase (C'est un garçon DE bien. ) Would be more appropriate to talk about moral value than (C'est un garçon bien).

The sentence (C'est un garçon de bien.) does not leave room for interpretation.

The (De) is important.

Sorry for my english. I speak google translat.:)

No seriously, I speak more french.


So, which one do you use for dogs?


Since dogs are not known for having moral values, a good dog is "un bon chien".


This seems very strange to me, why are you using the adverb here? I've got French in an hour and I'm going to ask my teacher about this one.


This is an exception, you are right, even though adjectives used as adverbs are much more common:

  • ça sent bon/mauvais (it smells good/bad)

Tell us what answer your teacher will have given you!


Bon and mauvais are not used as adverbs here; they do not modify the verb. They still function as adjectives since smell in this case is an auxiliary verb. They refer to the object being smelled, not the act of smelling.


If you made such a bold statement on an English language site instead of French there would be hundreds of comments arguing back and forth over your point.

"Adverbs typically answer questions such as how?, in what way?, when?, where?, and to what extent?. This function is called the adverbial function...." creates a lot of difficulty when trying to classify something as only an adverb or an adjective.

I am not saying you are wrong. However, there are a lot people who would not agree that you are categorically correct.


northern didnt say it has a good smell, he says it smells good. its an adverb. but like he said: hundreds of comments arguing back and forth. I posted this for the other readers to discern for themselves. But anyway... :P


If it's an adverb would it not mean that the subject, it, went around smelling things such as flowers in a good manner?


Yes, used with a verb like "smell" ("look" or "seem" would work the same way), "good" and "bad" are adjectives. These verbs (used as above: "We smell the sausages" is obviously different, with a transitive use of "smell") are being used as linking verbs, so it's natural that they would be completed by adjectives.


You are exactly right. Bien is an adverb, meaning "well" not "good". It is not an adjective, but here it is posing as an adjective after the noun. I'm guessing that just like with "dummy" subjects, there is an absent verb. This sentence could mean that the boy behaves well, Sitesuf, is that even in the ballpark?


"Bien" remains an adverb but it can be used as an adjective in set phrases like this one.

"Un bon garçon" and "un garçon bien" express different qualities: the former has a good heart and the latter has moral values. Just something you have to learn.


Do you mean that "Un garçon bien" is a good boy as referenced from his past behaviour, and "Un bon garçon" might be said by his mother despite his behaviour (as in more subjective)?


That's a fine analysis of the difference, well done.


I found 3 different definitions for the word "bien" here: http://www.linternaute.com/dictionnaire/fr/definition/bien/ So turns out, it can be used as an adjective and a noun too.


Is it possible to say "C'est un bien garcon"? If so, what does it mean? Since I know it has to be something different than "C'est un garcon bien"...


"C'est un bien garçon" is not used at all.


Would that be related to the fact that objective adjectives are placed after the noun, i.e., garçon, while subjective adjectives are placed before the noun? And as you have stated in your opinion 'un garçon bien' refers to moral values, which is pretty objective, while 'un bon garçon' refers to goodness of the boy in relation to badness, which is subjective.


what french word would be used, or is just an awkward phrase, for it to be "this is a fine boy"


what's the difference between this sentence and "Il est un garcon bien", if any


il est un garçon bien is not correct.

the rule is that when the English is [he/she is + modified noun] or [they are + modified noun], you have to change to "c'est" or "ce sont" respectively:

he is a good soldier = c'est un bon soldat

she is a friend of mine = c'est une amie à moi

they are Americans = ce sont des Américains

note: a modified noun is a noun + article or adjective or both


Er, why is "Americans" a modified noun here? I would have expected "Ils sont Americains", but "Ce sont des Americains penibles"..



Perhaps you could elaborate on your point since the example you give is considerably different from what is displayed on this page


Sitesurf posted 3 three examples of when to use "ce" instead of "il", with the rule being that modified nouns require "ce". The first two examples have clearly modified nouns ("good soldier", "friend of mine"), but the third does not (just "Americans"). Thus I was confused why it also gets a "ce".


ils sont américains (adjective)

ce sont des Américains (modified noun)


It's "des", the partitive article, modifying Americains, I believe.


Sorry about that. The penibles threw me.

It can get a ce but I don't see why it could not be ils sont Americains.


Hehe, I'm an American learning French, I have to immerse. :)


Sitesurf said modified means with an article, adjective or both. des is the article in question. Ils sont americains would mean "they are American," not "they are [some/a group of/a bunch of] Americans.

I think...


Does BAGS not come into play here?


Because it is idiomatic and "bien" is not an adjective but an adverb.


It must accept garçon as a boy too not only waiter


My French teacher told the class it is extremely rude to call a waiter "garçon", just as it would be unthinkable to call a waiter "boy". She said it would likely get you thrown out of the restaurant.


so how would you address a waiter?


Monsieur or madame.


Thanks Sitesurf. Much more formal than the Aussie way of doing things. Not being critical here; in fact I prefer the French approach.


♪ I am a good boy! ♫ (k-pop song ;) )


I am a good boy! -Good Boy, song


what is the difference of C'est un garcon bien & c'est un bon garcon??


I'm curious about casual use to a dog, such as "That's a good boy!" which is often vernacularized to " 't's-a good bow-ay" - Would you say bon or bien? Before or after? I'm sure the answer exists in the plethora of comments, as this is the first I recall hearing of "BANGS/BAGS"


"un bon garçon" has the irregular adjective placed in front of the noun ( G in BAGS).

"un garçon bien" has the adverb "bien" regularly placed after the word it modifies.


BIEN- adverb (modifying the verb) BON - adjective (describing the noun). The sentence sounds truly odd


BIEN - adverb, modifying the verb. BON - adjective, describing the noun. BIEN = well. BON = good. This a well boy, does not sound correct in English, but does one use an adverb to describe a noun in French?


Bien refers to the nature of boys existence. Bon refers to qualities that the boy displays. The result is the same.

The boy does well in meeting our expectations.

The boy's behavior is good, as we define what constitutes good behavior.


I could be mistaken, but I seem to hear "c'est" pronounced differently in different sentences throughout these lessons.

For this one, it sounds like (seht). In others, I thought I heard (say).

What's the proper pronunciation for "c'est"


I look forward to a reply from a native speaker. My dictionary says it should be the former, but to my ear it does vary. (Definitely not an English "say" with a dipthong, however.). Also, I hear that when there is a liason and the "t" is pronounced, as in this case, the preceding vowel is slightly flatter and really sounds like "eh," but without the liason it sometimes sounds a little higher.


"c'est" should sound [se] or [set] if it is placed in front of a word starting with a vowel sound.

There are 2 voices and I assume the man and the woman recorded that word twice each so that the TTS can use either one, depending on the sentence.


Thank you for confirming that my ear is working! :) Dictionaries don't always cover these subtleties.


when I wrote that "this is an okay boy" it said it was wrong, despite "okay" being one of the choices.


When you say things are o.k. you generally mean things are good in some way. That is because life is full of risk, potential problems and difficulties. Good times are less assured. When things are o.k. that means you are not troubled too much by by bad things. That is a good thing in itself.

When you say a person is o.k. you generally mean he/she is acceptable. Life is full of good people and bad. When you say a person is o.k. you are saying he is not one of the bad people. But you haven't gone so far as to say he is a good person.


Can someone explain why "bien" would go after the noun? Yes I have read through the preexisting comments, but I still quite understand. (Maybe I skipped over comments which actually explain, who knows.)


"bien" is an adverb which can also be used as an adjective in some cases.

  • "un garçon bien" describes someone's moral values

The construction is regular, since regular adjectives are placed after the noun they modify.


Oh, that explains a lot. I had forgotten that adjectives go after the noun by default.


how would you say "that is a good boy" instead?


ça, c'est un bon garçon


They must be talking about a dog XD


I thought bien was an adverb. Wouldn't it be bon?


C'est un bon garçon and c'est un garçon bien do not have the same meaning.

un bon garçon = nice, kind, helpful...

un garçon bien = with high moral values


are there other examples of adverbs used as adjectives? Can you point to an internet discussion?


Do you mean the use of such in French or English?


I was in a french school for several years and no matter what explanation is provided this sounds incorrect. If you want to say that a boy is well behaved or has a good disposition bien is certainly not the word of choice.


But what if you want to say something else about the boy?

Like maybe he has integrity or the like. Rather than just a description of his behavior or how he presents himself, you choose to talk about some inherent quality that produces the good behavior. If you do choose to do that, bien is a perfectly fine word to use. And if you do talk about inherent quality then you place it after the verb.


Would this be used to refer to a dog?


do they say that about dogs?


C'est means "this is" or "It is"?


Yes, "c'est" means "this is", "it is" or "that is".

But "c'est" can also translate "il est" or "elle est" when it is followed by a modified noun (determiner + noun).


This is so annoying! If the translation help tells you you can use decent boy, why the heck is it marked wrong?? Then don't offer the translation at all!


The alternative translations tell you what you can use in some circumstances. They don't tell you what you should use. You have just learned that while you can use decent, you shouldn't unless context seems to indicate that is the best translation.

I want Duo to show me possible uses of words so I am not surprised when I see them used that way. Marking me wrong when I misuse them shows me the limits of the alternative in question.


The preferred translation I can read at the top of this page is "He is a decent boy".

Alternatives: [This/That/He/It] is a [decent/good/fine] boy.


"decent" was not even among the word choices available on this q.


Not all alternatives are offered for every example.


Why can't this be "This is a decent boy"


I heard a lot of that in school


He is a good boy


But a decent boy IS a Canadian (besides justin beaver)

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