"See you soon children."
Where can I find a comprehensive discussion of les and des? I don't mean definitions but usage. Every time I think I have figured out the criterion for using one or the other, when neither is appropriate in English, I eventually come across what appears to be an exception like this one. On many occasions I have been marked as correct for dropping du or des as it appears to optional when translating to English. E.G: rice_is acceptable for _du riz . However les éléphants must be _the elephants or so I have been marked.
But in this particular case it is written that it must be les enfants not des enfants. Of course, in English neither usage is appropriate in the situation described.
I hope the foregoing is clear.
It would be quicker and easier for you to Google it! If I google "les des french" the first result is http://www.forum.french-linguistics.co.uk/forum/topics/des-and-les where there is a good explanation. In short, "rice" is acceptable for du riz, because in this context it's generic... as in "some rice" (which is also accepted as correct). Les éléphants must be the elephants, because that's exactly what it means. It's the definite article and you are talking about THE specific elephants, not just some elephants (or elephants in general). Hope this helps. Google is your best friend! :)
Actually I do use google a lot but in this case I'm interested in how it applies in Duolingo lessons which at my level aren't always strict French usage. I understand the difference between the definite and indefinite article but I'm not entirely clear how to apply them when there is no comparable usage in English.
In this case children refers to every child who hears the comment which seems pretty general to me thus I want to use des. However Duolingo treats the comment as being limited to only those children who hear it, thus les. Oookaaay?!
This seems pretty indistinct to me. I mean when I say hello world that's pretty general but of course I'm only referring to this world. If I say hello existence that is the ultimate in generality but I'm still only referring to this existence. If I say hello worlds that's getting really general but it still doesn't include all of existence just an unlimited number of worlds.
I'm not concerned with the mark on this question. I'm hoping to figure out how to apply a usage in French that has no English analog.
Hmm, I'm not a native French speaker so I might be wrong, but my guess is that you are talking to specific children, not just children in general! You're saying goodbye to a group of children and that's pretty specific.
To contrast that, I found this on a train travel page: "Voyager avec des enfants" - traveling with children. That refers to children in general, hence the des.
Two other good examples I found:
il m'a donné des conseils. j'ai suivi les conseils qu'il m'a donnés
he gave me (an undefined amount of advice) some advice. i followed the (now defined amount of) advice that he gave me.
Also, in French we consider the amount to be defined when talking about the whole set of something
i like dogs: j'aime les chiens
because you are implying that when you say "i like dogs" that you like all dogs in general.
And another good one here: http://www.forum.french-linguistics.co.uk/forum/topics/des-vs-les
Hope that's helping a bit, rather than confusing.