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How would you distinguish between these two in french

How would you distinguish between these two in french:


1. she drives fast cars

2. she drives cars fast

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Elle conduit des voitures rapides/ Elle conduit les voitures rapidement

I'm guessing you were looking for a case where the placement of the adjective causes ambiguity. In practice it's not so common, though it can happen e.g.:


"un jeune africain" = "an African youth"

"un jeune Africain" = "a young African"


(Of course, we're talking about a slight difference of emphasis -- essentially both phrases mean pretty much the same thing anyway.)

I thought that "an African youth" means "une jeunesse africaine". Am I wrong?

The word "youth" can be used as a collective noun, or to refer to an individual.


So "youth" can be "la jeunesse", "les jeunes" in general. But "a youth" is "un(e) jeune".



Here, the problem is not the placement of the adjective, since in the first case "jeune" is the name and "africain" the adjective, whereas in the second case, "jeune" is the adjective and "Africain" the name.


In any case, when the adjective refers to the subject or the complement, you use the adjective form ("She drives fast cars", fast refers to cars -> "elle conduit des voitures rapides").

When the adjective refers to the action, you use the adverbial form ("She drives cars fast", fast refers to drives -> "elle conduit des voitures rapidement").

Lauris -- my point was that it is due to the placement of the adjective in that the two adjectives go in different places, and hence this causes the ambiguity. In other cases, the noun + adjective would reverse their order if they swapped status.


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