Translation:The children eat chocolate before the dinner.
I too would really like to know why it is not possible to say "The children eat chocolate before dinner". That sounds much more idiomatic and natural to me. Unless Irish also omits the definite article to mean just any old dinner. Is the idea in fact that they are eating chocolate before one specific dinner, as opposed to more of a habitual act that could occur at any dinner they have? If the intended meaning DOES refer more to a habitual action, then I contend that "The children eat chocolate before dinner" should be accepted.
Some clarification by a mod would be immensely appreciated, le do thoil.
Moderators don't have any access to the answer database, or contact with the course maintainers, we only have some limited powers to moderate the sentence discussions, removing misleading, inappropriate or contentious comments.
That said, English is pretty inconsistent about whether or not to include the definite article before "dinner" - "Dinner's ready" vs "The dinner's ready" or "the dinner was really tasty yesterday" vs "dinner was really tasty yesterday". You would use an dinnéar in Irish for those statements.
Here are some more examples from focloir.ie:
"dinner's ready" - tá an dinnéar réidh
"he cooked dinner" - rinne sé an dinnéar
"we went for a walk after dinner" - chuamar ar siúlóid i ndiaidh an dinnéir
"she was in the middle of making dinner" - bhí sí díreach i mbun an dinnéar a réiteach
"I'll just have a brush up before dinner" - nífidh mé mé féin go tapa roimh an dinnéar
The problem in this case is each of those examples that don't use "the" in English are still all talking about a specific dinner - the dinner that we just ate, or the dinner that is being prepared, or the dinner that we are about to eat. But this exercise is using a habitual present tense verb, and if you were talking about habitually eating chocolate before dinner, then you wouldn't need an in Irish, so the fact that an is included suggests that "the dinner" is intended.
Many thanks for that very interesting and detailed reply. So it seems that some Irish sentences using "an dinnéar" can be translated into English with just "dinner", but in this case there is a strong enough sense of a specific dinner being referred to, so using "the dinner" is in fact more correct here? It's definitely wrong to just say "dinner" with this particular sentence?
Just trying to get this straight in my mind. But thank you most kindly once again for your help with this.