Articles OR no articles depending on the context?

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Stewart

Kwiziq community member

9 October 2018

7 replies

Articles OR no articles depending on the context?

In this Weekend Workout (5-10-2018) in the 'Californian Dream' level C1 quiz we are asked to translate:

'But what fascinated her the most remained this image of a land both arid and lush, which comprised desert, forests, ocean and mountains,'

Two possible anwers were given (see below) one with articles and the other without articles.

Is this perhaps because the one with articles relates to general things BUT the one without articles relates to specific things (a specific forest, say, rather than forests in general)? Could you please advise/explain.

Answer 1. qui comprenait le désert, les forêts, l'océan et les montagnes,

Answer 2. qui comprenait désert, forêts, océan et montagnes,

This question relates to:
French lesson "Using le, la, l', les before nouns when generalising (definite articles)"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

9 October 2018

9/10/18

Both refer to general things but are stylistically different. You can find traces of this in English as well:

I love forest, sea and sky.
I love the forest, the sea and the sky.

Both versions say the same thing but they have a different "ring" to it.

Input from a native speaker would be greatly appreciated.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

10 October 2018

10/10/18

Hi Stewart,

It is just a stylistic tool used to recite/declame in literature which you would not find in spoken French.

It made me think of a beautiful Lamartine poem ( French romantic poet) called Le Lac where he  asks time to stand still so that he can savour the moment :

"... ô lac! rochets muets! grottes! forêt obscure 

Vous que le temps épargne ou qu'il peut rajeunir..."

Here is a link to it if you are interested -

https://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/alphonse_de_lamartine/le_lac

Hope this helps!

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

10 October 2018

10/10/18

Hi Cécile (and Chris) Thank you for the response.

Do I understand correctly thay the sentence without the articles would typically be found only in, say, a novel or a poem but the sentence with the articles is the one that should be used in spoken French?

Alan

Kwiziq community member

10 October 2018

10/10/18

According to A Student Grammar of French by Malcolm Offord, the articles are also often omitted (in lists) in journalism.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

12 October 2018

12/10/18

Hi Stewart,

Yes, your last comment is correct, the lack of articles is used for lyrical purposes.

In normal speech you will need an article unlike ( sometimes) in English.

Look at the following examples:

If you have time, come and see me = Si vous avez le temps, passez me voir

Or, describing what a person might have going for her -

Elle a beaucoup d'humour, des amis merveilleux, un mari adorable, de beaux enfants She has humour, wonderful friends, a wonderful husband, beautiful children

Knowing which one to use is more tricky!

Hope this helps!

 

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

12 October 2018

12/10/18

Thank you for your clarification Cécile ... all my confusion has now been removed.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

15 October 2018

15/10/18

English is actually quite tricky in this respect. Consider this:

If you have time, I'd love to visit.
If you can spare the time, I'd love to visit.

The article is used for some verbs and not for others in English. Try to explain that to someone learning English :)

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