French Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the French language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

De même, dans un pamphlet célèbre, Swift propose-t-il de résoudre les problèmes économiques de l’Irlande en suggérant aux familles trop nombreuses de manger les jeunes enfants.

Why is not leur or even des used in this sentence instead of les?

Aren't leur or des more appropriate for this sentence?

... manger leur jeunes enfants = to eat their infants


... manger des jeunes enfants = to eat infants

(generally speaking)

So why has the author of this article chosen les instead?

share|improve this question

I would say that there is not much of a difference between leurs (not leur because of the plural) and les. In this context where he talks to the big families of Ireland, both of them indicate that the children that would be eaten are their own children.

If you used des, we would lose the meaning of the sentence and it would not necessarily imply the children of those families.

If it hadn't been mentioned that he talked to the big families, leurs would have been more correct than les or des.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.