FR: I ate a little fruit

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by zapspan, Apr 25, 2013.

  1. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    How would one translate "I ate a little fruit / a little bit of fruit".

    Normalmente, to translate this type of sentence, with a mass noun in English, I would use "un peu de" in French.
    However, since one usually uses "fruits" in French, I imagine that one might have to say "J'ai mangé quelques fruits" rather than "J'ai mangé un peu de fruit(s)".

    Qu'est-ce que vous en pensez?

    Merci.
     
  2. MarcusK Senior Member

    "J'ai mangé un peu de fruits" is "I ate a little fruit / a little bit of fruit", whereas "J'ai mangé quelques fruits" would imply a few separate fruit.
     
  3. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Is it possible to write 'un peu de fruit" [i.e., "fruit" in the singular]?
     
  4. MarcusK Senior Member

    Not really, because "fruit" in the singular would refer to a single piece of fruit.
     
  5. Lemon12 New Member

    Singapore
    French
    "J'ai mangé un peu de fruit" would be understood, but that's not something a native would say naturally.
     
  6. Vektus

    Vektus Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    Russian
    "Fruit" is uncountable in English, but not in French, right? You're using it in relation to one single piece of fruit.

    Lemon12, so how would a native say? Using "quelques fruits"?
     
  7. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    J'ai mangé un peu de fruits = I ate a litte fruit
    J'ai mangé quelques fruits = I ate some fruits
     
  8. Lemon12 New Member

    Singapore
    French
    Yes you got it. "Quelques fruits" would imply that you ate several fruits, which is not what "a little fruit" means. Honestly I don't know how I would say it, I think I'd try to avoid the problem and say it differently using the name of the fruit directly.
     
  9. Vektus

    Vektus Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    Russian
    Lemon12, merci!

    Actually, I think that when you want to say "a little bit of fruit" or "some fruit" in English, the main idea is that you don't want to specify them. :)
     
  10. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Just to make sure / along the same lines, would it be wrong to say "J'ai mangé du fruit" [as in, chopped up fruit]?
     
  11. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Unlike English where fruit is typically uncountable, French uses it as a countable noun. It is very unlikely less likely to use it as a mass noun.

    I chopped up fruit → J'ai coupé des fruits
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2014
  12. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Thank you, Maître Capello.

    If you wanted to say "they served chopped fruit", would you then say "Ils ont servi des fruits coupés"?

    Also, you suggested "J'ai mangé un peu de fruits" (your post #7 above), and yet you explain that "fruit" is a count noun in French rather than a mass noun. Is it common to use "un peu de" with a count noun? I am not at all questioning you :) - I am just trying to wrap my brain around how this noun works in French.
     
  13. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Yes, this is correct.

    (We would however be more likely to say, Ils ont servi une macédoine de fruits or des morceaux de fruits or des fruits en morceaux depending on context.)

    Un peu de is indeed used only with non-count nouns. J'ai mangé un peu de fruits would indeed be natural in some specific contexts, e.g., if talking about mashed or chopped fruit, or if used along with légumes.

    J'ai mangé un peu de fruits et légumes. :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2014
  14. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Maître Capello, thank you very much. This is very interesting and helpful.
     

Share This Page