FR: Ask three before me

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by malintzinx, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. malintzinx New Member


    I'm making a posted for my classroom to remind students of the 'Ask 3 before Me' rule. (Ask three other students your questions before you ask the teacher)

    Am I right that that the correct translation would be:

    << Demandez 3 avant moi >>


    << Demande à 3 avant moi >>.

    Are they both right? And is there one that would be better, or does it not really matter?


  2. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France - français
    Je n'emploierais pas "3" sans un nom après
    Je pense que je dirais : "interroge(z) (toujours) trois camarades / étudiants avant moi"
  3. malintzinx New Member

    Merci..j'aimerais garder le 'demandez trois avant moi' parce que c'est déjà mars et je l'ai dit depuis tous ce temps. Ça ne vaut pas le peine de le changer maintenant. Mais peut-être l’année qui vient!
  4. pointvirgule

    pointvirgule Senior Member

    Mtl, QC
    langue française
    For the sake of the children, I beg to differ. Follow janpol's advice.
  5. OLN

    OLN Senior Member

    French - France, ♀
    Pour répondre à la question de grammaire pure : Demande(z) à trois élèves avant de me poser la question.
  6. malintzinx New Member


    Unfortunately I am just one new teacher. I can't change my whole school's policy. But thanks for your advice.
    I tried to post a link to the site but if you google 'Demande a trois avant moi' it's now the third post after this thread. ;)

    Merci OLN!!
  7. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member


    The verb demander requires the preposition à (if what follows is a person) and requires no preposition if what follows is an object, or a piece of information. Exactly as in English : you ask somebody, but you ask for something, and you pay somebody but you pay for something.

    Demandez trois amounts to saying Ask for three. Now, keep in mind that saying trois to mean trois personnes is unusual in French. Even with the preposition à, "Demandez à trois" sounds very weird.

    Note that that method probably arose in an English-speaking country, thus no French equivalent really exists, but you can found some pretty good translation and explainations if you look it up.
  8. pointvirgule

    pointvirgule Senior Member

    Mtl, QC
    langue française
    I'm not saying that you should change the "Ask 3" policy, only that you correct the non-French formula that you intend to use on your poster.

    To answer the grammar question, we say demander à quelqu'un because the complement is an indirect object. (Just like somebody is an indirect object in to ask somebody something.)
  9. malintzinx New Member

    Thanks Oddmania! Yes, that is why I chose Demander, because the only information in French that I could find online used Demander. A collegue told me if I wrote 'Demandez' I didn't need the a because it was an exception... (?) so I wanted to come and check before putting the poster I made on the wall. (Everyone else wrote 'Demande' instead of Demandez', and I had already finished the poster before I realized... otherwise I would have just copied them!)

    I do realize it sounds weird, but it also sounds a little weird in English I suppose... it's moreso a reminder than a full sentence.

    Thanks so much for your help! ^^ I really appreciate it!
  10. Annalees Senior Member

    I'm sorry Malintzinx, but I have to agree with the other members. "Demandez à trois" just won't do... it doesn't mean anything in French. By keeping on using it, you're teaching your students something incorrect...

    Now, to get back to your question, instead of "demandez à ...", I think I would say "Interrogez 3 élèves avant moi"

    "Everyone else wrote 'Demande' instead of Demandez'":
    Whether you use "Demande" or "Demandez" (or "Interroge" / "Interrogez") doesn't really matter; in one case, you're addressing the students individually, and in the other you're addressing all the students.
  11. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France - français
    "demander" exige l'emploi de la préposition "à" et il est préférable de l'employer avec un cod : "demander quelque chose à quelqu'un".
    "interroger" (proposé le 03/03, post 2) évite ces deux "inconvénients".
    "questionner" conviendrait également et présenterait en outre l'avantage d'être "transparent" pour un anglophone.
  12. Annalees Senior Member

    ""interroger" (proposé le 03/03, post 2) évite ces deux "inconvénients"."

    Oops, sorry Janpol - I hadn't seen your post.
  13. AlistairCookie Senior Member

    Xandria, Virginia
    English - U.S.
    I've been saying "Demande à trois, puis à moi" for a few years now, and never realized it was wrong. I think that Malintzink has been trying to keep the rhyme, as I have as a pneumonic for learning and remembering the rule.

    Serait-il possible de formuler la phrase comme cela: "Demandez-en à trois, puis à moi." ou "Demande-t-en à 3, puis à moi." ?

    In any event, I can live with their hearing a small error in the grand scheme of things if they learn to work together. I probably wouldn't put an incorrect poster on the wall however. Perhaps if my attempts don't work, you could put a picture of 3 people after the word "trois"
  14. Annalees Senior Member

    I'm afraid the 2 options you suggest are also incorrect.. sorry...
    "Demandez-en à 3, puis moi", means "ask for (what?) to 3, then me"
    The second one is actually gramatically wrong. You cannot put a T there.

    The picture of 3 students on the poster is a very good idea. You keep the rhythm, and have a correct sentence. :)
  15. pointvirgule

    pointvirgule Senior Member

    Mtl, QC
    langue française
    Off-topic, but do you mean mnemonic?
  16. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France - français
    Retiens bien ce refrain :
    "Demande à tes copains
    (A un, à deux, à trois)
    Et puis, demande-moi !"
  17. Annalees Senior Member

    Oh Janpol - you're a poet!
  18. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Nah! Some people have brains in their lungs… :D

    More seriously, I think the most natural way to put it—at least for me—would be:

    Posez d'abord votre question à 3 camarades avant de la poser à un professeur.
    Posez d'abord votre question à 3 camarades avant de me la poser. (if the professor is talking)

    Note that poser une question also requires the preposition à:

    demander (qqch) à qqn
    poser une question à qqn

    interroger qqn
    questionner qqn
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
  19. Annalees Senior Member

    I think the problem is it is supposed to be short 'n' sweet, and follow the English version: "Ask 3 before me"... hence the difficulty.
  20. sensa Senior Member

    English, Canada
    wow hot topic!
    I searched "ask 3 before me" because I am also going to use this in my French classroom. I want to use the verb "demander" because student use this verb to say "ask" (I cannot overwhelm them by using even more verbs - keep it simple for FSL students). I don't want to say "demander à trois élèves avant moi" because I want the 3 to mean "ask 3 people/books/notes/posters on the wall etc.", not just people.

    Could I say "Demandez à trois choses avant moi"?
  21. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    No, you cannot "ask" a thing – just like in English. As demander is not appropriate, I'm afraid you will need to teach your students a new verb. You could say:

    Consultez-en trois.

    Note that you may use consulter with either people or things.
  22. Lly4n4 Senior Member

    Paris (ex-Grand Ouest)
    Français (France)
    To keep the rhyme and the sentence short (but I'm not sure if students have to raise a hand before asking the teacher) :
    Pose ta question à 3 copains (or) Demande à 3 copains
    Avant de lever la main.

    More complex (and Yoda-style):
    À trois amis tu demanderas
    Avant de t'adresser à moi.

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