Combien sont-ils ?

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by frankcow, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. frankcow

    frankcow Junior Member

    Switzerland
    China-Mandarin Chinese
    Hi everyone,

    I just read this French sentence "Combien sont-ils?", which, I know, literally means "How many (people) are they?" But I am wondering if this is a good translation. What is the correct and natural English equivalent to "Combien sont-ils"?

    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2013
  2. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    "How many of them are there?"
     
  3. frankcow

    frankcow Junior Member

    Switzerland
    China-Mandarin Chinese
    Ah, that's it! Merci bien!
     
  4. OLN

    OLN Senior Member

    Alsace, France
    French - France, ♀
    Si ce n'est pas un nombre relatif, mais absolu, n'est-ce pas mieux de dire How many are there?
     
  5. misterk Moderator

    Boston
    English-American
    Context would make a difference, no? Imagine the receptionist at a busy restaurant who finishes a phone call and tells the maître d' that a big group will be arriving in 20 minutes. The maître d' asks, Combien sont-ils? In that context, we might translate that as "How many are they?" or the even more natural "How big is the group?"
     
  6. Suehil

    Suehil Medemod

    Tillou, France
    British English
    'How many of them are there' would sound the most natural to my BE ears.
     
  7. LankaFool Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    My American ears agree.
     
  8. OLN

    OLN Senior Member

    Alsace, France
    French - France, ♀
    Merci. Justement, on ne connaît pas le contexte.
    are they proposé par frankcow était donc juste, mais je retiens qu'avec are there et pour des personnes, il faut rajouter of them. C'est un peu comme rajouter "de personnes", ce qui en français est inutile.
     

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