That is really about context, but the fact that it is a question does not change the contextual meaning:
- "comment manges-tu LE poulet ?" means, in general, how do you cook it, or do you eat it cold or hot, that kind of context. So, since it is a generality, in English, you should translate that question in: "how do you (usually) eat chicken?".
So I would tend to disagree with the English version "how do you eat THE chicken?".
- "manges-tu du poulet ?" translates in "do you eat (some) chicken?"
To ask a question in French, you generally have 3 main structures:
The more formal structure uses an inversion of verb and pronoun (so, it needs a pronoun). The sentence may start with an interrogative word or not:
- manges-tu du poulet ? - comment/où/quand manges-tu du poulet ?
- Pierre et Marie mangent-ils du poulet ? comment/où/quand Pierre et Marie mangent-ils du poulet ?
The standard form uses interrogative constructions which does not need the Verb-Pronoun inversion:
- est-ce que tu manges du poulet ? - quand est-ce que tu manges du poulet ?
The relaxed form is used in oral. It is the exact form of a statement + a question mark at the end + the tone of voice raising at the end of the sentence:
- tu manges du poulet ? - tu manges du poulet comment/où/quand ?
Yes, but the post just above was only about interrogative forms, not partitive vs definite articles.
"comment manges-tu le poulet ?" can indeed be interpreted two ways:
either as a generality, like "how do you eat chicken, in general ?" (no need for "the")
or as a reference to a specific chicken: "how do you eat the chicken that you buy from XYZ ?" (specific, you need "the").
In any event, we don't have any context here, so I would expect Duo to accept both translations.
Normally this would refer to the tools that you use not so much your mouth. But "the mouth" = La bouch. With the cutlery = avec les couverts. With my hands = Avec mes mains. With knife and fork. = Avec une fourchette et un couteau.
For things like steak it could also refer to how well done the steak has to be. very rare = bleu Rare = saignant Medium = à point Well done = bien cuit
Le/ la/ les = the - as in that particular chicken.
Le/ la/ les = the - as in all chicken, all examples of chicken, all members of a group of chickens, the idea of chicken.
This is a second meaning of le/ la/ les in French for which there is no comparable article in English. To express generality like that we just drop the article. Dropping the article is something that can't be done in French. There is no article in French that expresses that kind of generality so le/ la/ les is recycled for that purpose.
I eat the chicken = I eat that chicken right there = Je mange le poulet
I eat chicken = I eat all chicken, all examples of chicken, not just some chicken but every kind of chicken I know about. = Je mange le poulet.
So.. If we want to say I eat (all) chicken in French we use le in the general sense ( Je mange le poulet). But it also works in reverse. If we want to say Je mange le poulet in the sense of meaning I eat (all) chicken then when translating it to English we drop the article. ( I eat chicken)
By itself, Je mange le poulet can be translated either way. Specific or general. Without context you can't be sure.
Some people eat it fast food style in a bun. Some people eat it only as a full meal with all the trimmings. Some people eat it in meat pie. Some people prefer it cold between two slices of bread so they can eat it on their lunch break.
The only way you will know how I eat it is if you ask me.
If you are referring to the use of le in this example it is not Duo that has a problem.
Le/ la/ les has a meaning of the in English.
They have another meaning which for which there is no counterpart in English. English speakers just drop the article when wishing to speak generally. But French requires the article in most cases.
Le/ la/ les can be used when the article is intended to refer to a generality. All examples of something.
J'aime boire le vin = I like the wine. That wine right there
J'aime boire du vin = I like to drink some wine. Not any particular wine, not all wine, just some wine.
J'aime le vin = I like all wine = I like wine. All examples of wine, all members of a group of wines, the idea of wine, wine in general.
(edited as per Sitesurf)
The only way to tell the intended meaning of the article is from context.
Duo is not confused by its use of articles. It is English speakers who naturally are confused when confronted with an article usage for which there is no identical article in English.
I am really struggling that sometimes "le" means you have to write "the" and the same with du and some, but how do you know when it should translate to "the chicken" or "some chicken" or just "chicken". I just put "how do you eat the chicken" for this and got incorrect, it should be "how do you eat chicken" yet on a similar question recently I put the equivalent of "how do you eat chicken" and was marked down for missing the "the"....
The French is clear. Nouns require some modifier, article etc. (with exceptions, of course)
In the case of articles...la/le/les means the (specific) or the (all of something). Du/des means some. When talking about something specific or something so general it includes all of everything, the choice is simple. When talking about only some of the something the choice is clear. And you have to make the choice. The correct article or an alternative replacement must be there in French.
It is the English that is confusing. Because English speakers are not required to be precise about quantity or the nature of presence, they routinely drop it both in conversation and writing. English speakers are so vague about the distinction that they seem to lose awareness of it.
Many Duo English speaking students will argue that it is difficult to figure out the French use of articles because there is no difference in English. they believe that English speakers don't insert some or all into sentences because there is no difference between the words, so how can they figure out the French distinction.
They will argue passionately in print that.... I like music means they like some music. Others will argue that it means all music. Some will say it means both because there is no difference. Of course, there is a difference but the speaker has not made his meaning clear. He leaves it up to the listener to understand the meaning or ask for clarification if the listener needs more information. But French speakers are obligated to be specific in their sentences.
English speakers see the articles in a French sentence and think..why is that there, what is it doing...? It is there because the French speaker put it there deliberately and if you translate its clear meaning into the English sentence, it will be more informative than if you don't. If you don't include it in your French sentence it will confuse your listener/reader. Of course, he can always stop following the flow of your speech and work out what you must have meant to say.
In the past Duo always accepted including a translation of the article in their English translations. Much of the time they even required that they be included. Lately, they have penalized including translating the French articles if it sounds more natural to drop them in English. My opinion is that this new practice only adds to the confusion for students.
The solution for your problem is to tighten up your English. Don't just say .... I want tea... Specify in your mind if you want the tea on the table or that you just talked about. Unless you want all the tea available, all the tea in the world.
Naturally, you might mean you want some tea, any tea within the framework of shared assumptions about what kind of tea that is likely to be. Get in the habit of observing the difference between the, some or all, in English (at least in your mind) and the French usage will be simple.
Just to make things complicated appreciation verbs such as like cannot take du/des/some. In French, you have to replace it with the those articles with other words that mean the same thing pretty well. In English you can just drop it. Unfortunately there a number of appreciation verbs and they are common. It is just an important rule put there to mess with your head. Another reason to practice, practice, practice so you just say it naturally without worrying about being stuck by seemingly contradictory usage.
A dummy "-t-" is added, with a hyphen on either side, to ease pronunciation whenever:
- the question is formal, with Subject pronoun and Verb are switched
the verb ends with a vowel sound and the pronoun starts with a vowel sound as well.
"où est-il ?" (where is he?) - no "t" needed because "est" ends with a T already. [etil]
- "où va-t-elle ?" (where does she go?) - a T is needed to avoid the [a-i] sound conflict. [vatel]