FR: être un héros - article

EpicBacon

Senior Member
North American Anglophone English
Hi guys,

So, early on, I learned that in French, you the article is optional if the noun is followed by "etre".

For example, Je suis le roi des Islandais […].

This is no different from Je suis roi des Islandais […].

However, someone told me that Je suis héros is wrong; he told me that you HAVE to say "Je suis UN héros".

Care to explain, my friends?

Merci!
 
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  • Guibzh

    Member
    Français - France
    Hi !

    I'm not really sure (and your quotation is really weird) but maybe it's because "roi/king" is a function whereas "héros" is not.
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    Hi,

    I don't know whether a rule exists about this, but I've given it some thought and it seems to apply only to jobs and status.

    Je suis médecin (job),
    je suis roi
    (job/status),
    je suis ami avec X
    (status),
    je suis amant avec Y (status),
    je suis père / mère (status).

    You could actually say Je suis héros, but that would sound like this is your job. I could just picture a young kid saying "Plus tard, je voudrais être super-héros" (just as well as Je veux être astronaute / aventurier / archéologue).
     

    EpicBacon

    Senior Member
    North American Anglophone English
    So, would SpiderMan say "Je suis héros" whereas the man who rescued the endangered species of unicorn fish would say "Je suis un héros"?

    Guibzh said my French is weird. Did I make an error? Thanks.
     

    Guibzh

    Member
    Français - France
    So, would SpiderMan say "Je suis héros"
    No he wouldn't say that because "héros" is not really a job, a status or a function. In Oddmania's exemple, it can be accepted because kids can think "héros" is a job.

    Guibzh said my French is weird. Did I make an error?
    Grammaticaly you didn't, but your quote doesn't make any sense. Didn't you know ?
     

    AmaryllisBunny

    Senior Member
    The grammar behind this is, that in French professions take on an adjective quality.

    Je suis roi, je suis professeur, je suis interprète, je suis chômeur. However, if any specifiactions are made... Then one may say, Je suis le professeur de français à l'Université de ... (meaning you are the professor maybe the only one?)

    The article is not optional, it is wrong (unless it is le/la for specificity).
     

    Guibzh

    Member
    Français - France
    The grammar behind this is, that in French professions take on an adjective quality.
    It's a good explanation, but, perhaps, to say "in French professions can take on an adjective quality" would be more accurate.


    Cause, I don't agree with that :
    The article is not optional, it is wrong (unless it is le/la for specificity).
    For exemple : "je suis un interprète/médecin/professeur etc..." is ok.


    Nonetheless, I think you're right about "le/la/les".


    PS : Hope my english is correct, if it is not don't hesitate to mention it.
     
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    AmaryllisBunny

    Senior Member
    "je suis un interprète/médecin/professeur etc..." is ok.
    Yes "un/une" can be correct IF there is some sort of precision made. In French, professions take on an adjective quality. Je suis professeur but Je suis un professeur de grammaire et stylistique à l'Université des lapins et des lapereaux.
     
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    EpicBacon

    Senior Member
    North American Anglophone English
    No he wouldn't say that because "héros" is not really a job, a status or a function. In Oddmania's exemple, it can be accepted because kids can think "héros" is a job.
    I'd say SpiderMan certainly would consider hero to be his status; he labels himself as such. Are you sure he wouldn't say "Je suis héros." ?
     

    EpicBacon

    Senior Member
    North American Anglophone English
    Hmm.. I'm quite confused. One native French speaker says SpiderMan's saying of "Je suis héros" is invalid and another one says it is wrong. :confused:
     

    Lacuzon

    Senior Member
    French - France
    Well, to me, Spiderman probably consider being a hero as a status. So he could say Je suis héros as a baker would say Je suis boulanger.
     

    Guibzh

    Member
    Français - France
    Yes "un/une" can be correct IF there is some sort of precision made.
    Not necessarily, usually you can say : "je suis un médecin." or, better "je suis juste un médecin", if you want to insist on your identity rather than insisting on your quality.
    But I agree, if you doubt, give up the article, it will always be ok.

    Well, to me, Spiderman probably consider being a hero as a status. So he could say Je suis héros as a baker would say Je suis boulanger.
    Ok, we could imagine anything like that (perhaps with "super héros" rather than "héros"), but, in fact, you will never read it in spidey's comic books french version. Or maybe as a joke.
     

    Reynald

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    Yes "un/une" can be correct IF there is some sort of precision made. In French, professions take on an adjective quality. Je suis professeur but Je suis un professeur de grammaire et stylistique à l'Université des lapins et des lapereaux.
    Et encore ! "Je suis un professeur de grammaire et de stylistique à l'Université des lapins et des lapereaux" est aussi la construction que j'utiliserais, celle qui me paraît la seule correcte.
    S'il fallait absolument une construction avec l'article, je dirais "Je suis un professeur de grammaire contesté", "Je suis un professeur exigeant".

    Et pour revenir à la question #1,
    However, someone told me that Je suis héros is wrong; he told me that you HAVE to say "Je suis UN héros".
    je dirais à l'enfant : "Tu dois dire je suis un héros" ! :)
     
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    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    I'd say SpiderMan certainly would consider hero to be his status; he labels himself as such. Are you sure he wouldn't say "Je suis héros." ?
    I'm glad you mentioned Spiderman, because I actually almost used Superman as an example of someone who might say Je suis héros, but I had second thoughts. The thing is, Je suis héros is a very childish thing to say, because you're turning a quality / a vertue / a positive feature into a job. It also goes for Je suis aventurier, because "adventurer" isn't a full-time job (it's not even a job).
     

    EpicBacon

    Senior Member
    North American Anglophone English
    I'm glad you mentioned Spiderman, because I actually almost used Superman as an example of someone who might say Je suis héros, but I had second thoughts. The thing is, Je suis héros is a very childish thing to say, because you're turning a quality / a vertue / a positive feature into a job. It also goes for Je suis aventurier, because "adventurer" isn't a full-time job (it's not even a job).
    Would you find "Je suis super-héros" as something childish, too?

    Also, I find results on Google for "Je suis humain", but I find NOTHING for "Je suis être humain"; it seems like you have to add "un" here. I don't understand this, either.
     
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    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    Would you find "Je suis super-héros" as something childish, too?
    Equally childish, yes. Another awkward thing to say would be Il est savant-fou, for instance (un savant fou = "a mad doctor / mad scientist"). I can only think of two occasions where it would be acceptable: 1. a child saying Je veux être + a job (with the "job" being whatever a child may fancy as a job, including a mad doctor), and 2. a gamer playing an RPG and saying that his character's class / job is "savant-fou" : Je suis savant-fou, Je suis sorcier, Je suis soldat, etc.

    Also, I find results on Google for "Je suis humain", but I find NOTHING for "Je suis être humain"; it seems like you have to add "un" here. I don't understand this, either.
    With an adjective, no article is required: humain can be an adjective, so you can say Je suis humain (just as you might say Je suis beau, je suis blond, etc.)
    On the other hand, an article is needed if you're using a noun. If you're using the word humain as a noun, you should say Je suis un humain (the same thing happens in English: I'm human [adjective] and I'm a human [noun] are both equally correct).

    "Être human" (human being) is a nominal group, so it requires an article : Je suis un être humain.

    I strongly recommend you to forget about the rule saying that no article is needed when the verb is être. This is highly misleading. Most of the times, when an article is needed in English, it's needed in French too: I'm a hero, I'm a man, I'm a friend of John's, etc.

    The most common exception is jobs: the article is optional in French because jobs are pretty much considered as adjectives. So the most common way to translate I'm a doctor is Je suis médecin.

    Note that the article is optional with jobs, but it's not incorrect to use it. The difference between Je suis médecin and Je suis un médecin is the same as the difference between I'm human and I'm a human in English, or I'm American and I'm an American. In other words, leaving out the article is more common, but adding it is required if you wish to add something else: I'm an ordinary human ("Je suis un humain ordinaire").
     

    EpicBacon

    Senior Member
    North American Anglophone English
    So why is it that in the French dubbing of the Disney movie Pocahontas, the protagonist sings the lyric "Je suis fille des torrents, soeur des rivières" in the song L'air Du Vent?
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    So why is it that in the French dubbing of the Disney movie Pocahontas, the protagonist sings the lyric "Je suis fille des torrents, soeur des rivières" in the song L'air Du Vent?
    This is a poetic turn of phrase. You may find this paragraph 139. Être + nom sans article ») helpful.

    [...] Cette construction peut s'étendre à des caractérisations abstraites :

    - La musique est source de joie → "être source de joie" est une propriété de la musique.
    - La musique est une source de joie → la musique fait partie des choses qui sont sources de joie.
    You could come across literally anything in songs: Je suis héros de guerre, je suis martyr, etc. This would sound fine in a song, but no one would say that in actual practice.
     
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