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As I go through my Rosetta Stone lessons, I find it would be helpful to ask a question about the picture I am seeing and then responding with the correct lesson answer. My problem lies in the fact that when I am trying to find the correct structure for the question I want to use, I use several different website translators to see what the consensus is for the correct structure of the question, however, they all give me different translations and I am befuddled as to what is correct. So, I am going to list some questions in English that I would like to use for the current lesson and I would appreciate it if any kind souls would help me with what they feel would be the most common translation that would be used by most fluent french speakers. Here is my first list....and merci beaucoup in advance!

1) What are THESE people doing?

2) What are THOSE people doing?

3) What is THIS (man, woman, boy, girl) doing?

4) What is THAT (man, woman, boy, girl) doing?

5) What am I doing?

6) What are you (informal) doing?

7) What are you (formal) doing?

8) What is (he, she) doing?

9) What are they doing?

10) What are we doing?

11) This (man, woman, boy, girl). What is (he,she) doing?

12) What is this?

13) What is that?

14) What do we have here?

15) What is happening here?

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As always Neil, thank you!


My next round of questions will be coming soon. A new lesson with a new verb: avoir. 

oops... and something else. "Que font ces deux la`?" would be: What are these two (here) doing. And: "Que font ces deux personnes ici?" would be more like what are these two people doing here (in this place)?. Correct?


Also, can "gens" be used interchangebly with "personnes"?...or is there some different conotation between the two?



Yes, that's right -- if you use "ici", the implication is effectively "What purpose are you here for?", "Why are you here?". Whereas "là" means "here" but more as a "throwaway pointer".


Re your second question: "gens" and "personnes" are often interchangeable ("personnes" is a bit more formal). However:

- if you're counting or referring to specific people, you generally use "personnes" (so "10 personnes", not "10 gens"; "ces deux personnes", not "ces deux gens")

- if you mean "people in general", rather than referring to any specific people, then it would usaully be "les gens".


There are also some cases in the middle. For example: "beaucoup de gens" would mean "lots of people, and I can't really put a figure on how many", whereas "beaucoup de personnes" would mean something like "many people, and I could give a rough estimate of how many".

Thanks Neil! By the way, where are you? I am here in the Southeast U.S.

Hi Neil,

I personally don't see that difference in meaning between "beaucoup de gens" et "beaucoup de personnes".

I'm not omniscient though, so if others French people* can give their opinion...

*others  French peoples ?

P.S. Thanks Ed for your response to this. It would be interesting to see what other speakers think -- maybe time for a poll...


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