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I was recently asked to translate the following sentence:

Gabrielle has biology. It is boring.

I was taught the word "ennuyeux" for the masculine form of boring and the feminine version "ennuyeuse". I thought that it would be appropriate to use the feminine version because it is describing the class biologie which is feminine. Would it be correct to do so or should I just use the masculine version?

  • When you say: She has biology, does that mean: She's looking at all the courses, and she has biology [has to take it, it's on the list]. Or does it mean: She has biology [now], as in a biology class? That can make a difference to the translation. – Lambie Dec 4 '17 at 20:20
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That depends on how you build your French sentence but the most straightforward translation would be:

C'est ennuyeux

The adjective needs to agree with the neutral pronoun ce (c') which is technically always masculine and singular, regardless of what it refers to.

Not sure about the English sentence, but the French one would be ambiguous. What is ennuyeux might be the biology class but also the fact Gabrielle is attending that class.

To sort it out, you might write:

Gabrielle a biologie, c'est une matière ennuyeuse. (boring)

and for the alternate meaning:

C'est ennuyeux, Gabrielle a biologie. (ennuyeux = troublesome/annoying here)

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"ennuyeux" here doesn't refer to "biology" but to the fact that Gabrielle has a biology lesson. This notion is not feminine, thus you can't use the feminine for "ennuyeux".

"It is" will be translated by "C'est", "c'" being the shortened form of "ça" which refers to the whole previous sentence (and is masculine).

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    C'est is the shortened and mandatory form of ce est. It doesn't come from ça est which is a very relaxed or regional French expression, the common one being cela est. – jlliagre Jul 11 at 21:35
  • @jlliagre I am not sure to understand what you want to say. c'est is shortened from cela est, and cela is itself often shortened to ça (I wouldn't call it "very relaxed", cela is the correct formal form but in spoken language ça is way more common). ce est on the other hand simply doesn't mean anything. You could technically find cela est without the shortening in especially formal situations, but ça est would be both too and not enough formal, so indeed you wouldn't hear that (except, you are right, as a regional expression) – Anne Aunyme Jul 13 at 19:36
  • You misunderstood indeed. Ce est does mean something but is never written that way, that must be c'est. No need to introduce ça / cela, even while they are close. Changing the verb tense makes: ce sera ennuyeux, ce serait ennuyeux or ce fut ennuyeux which confirm the pronoun can be and is ce at the present too. On the other hand, ça sera ennuyeux is possible but ça fut ennuyeux is unused, because of a register mismatch. We write cela fut ennuyeux. I'm not ruling out the possibility for someone to use c'est for ça est but that would be an exception. – jlliagre Jul 13 at 20:25

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