When to use definite articles with ne...ni...ni?

SagarB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

When to use definite articles with ne...ni...ni?

I know this has been asked before, but I'm having trouble determining when to use definite articles when talking about things in general. The two examples in the lesson seem to contradict each other:

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.

Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.

Why is is "le fromage/le lait" in the first example, and simply "vin/eau" in the second one? According to the English translations for each, both sentences seem to refer to the items in general.

Thanks!

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait. -- This refers to a specific situation. The speaker declines cheese and milk at this specific instance.

Je ne veux ni vin ni eau. -- This is a general statement. The speaker doesn't want either wine or water. No matter what.

SagarB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hi Chris.

Thanks for your reply. It makes sense. The answers provided in the lesson are ambiguous when it comes to determining the general vs specific cases:

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.
I like neither cheese nor milk.

Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.
He wants neither wine nor water.

There is nothing in either answer specifically calling out the general nature. If anything, the first construction suggests the speaker generally dislikes cheese and milk, although it uses the definite article— the opposite thing your post explains. Is this a wrong example?

Thanks
S

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thanks Sagar, for the kind words.

I agree that the English translation is a bit misleading.

SagarB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thanks, Chris!

When to use definite articles with ne...ni...ni?

I know this has been asked before, but I'm having trouble determining when to use definite articles when talking about things in general. The two examples in the lesson seem to contradict each other:

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.

Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.

Why is is "le fromage/le lait" in the first example, and simply "vin/eau" in the second one? According to the English translations for each, both sentences seem to refer to the items in general.

Thanks!

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