Translation:An almost perfect night, and without dreams
Hi deborahmdukes! I've been studying French for years now, and I can tell you that while it may seem like you need some way of determinging between the sounds of "et" and "est", I'm afraid there really is none. It relies on context, and I assure you as a once beginner in the French language, all it takes is listening and conversation, it's really not as hard as it sounds. You'll get it so long as you expose yourself regularly and frequently.
I think we agree, IvoryFr96, that "et" and "est" are usually quite obvious -- in context -- even though the pronunciation is identical. The problem with this particular question is that there is no context, and either word forms either a logical sentence (est) or phrase (et). My issue is that Duolingo often throws ambiguous dictées at us with no context. Of course, if I happen to have seen the sentence or phrase in written form before the dictée, I would know which word is intended.
You'll find that while the initial rule is that French does not allow for nouns without articles, the poetic nature of the language will eventually make room for exceptions to this rule. So, no, it is not necessary, nor is really fitting given the romantic tone of the sentence, to append "des" to "rêves".
Yes indeed "de" can and often is used without an article.
My comment was made over a year ago and I think the point I was making was that "sans" and "en" are generally not followed by an article. Can you think of an example where either is used with an article?
Certainly there are fair number of situations where "de" is used without an article but nevertheless generally "de" is followed by an article.
There are probably other examples of prepositions that are occasionally used without an article.
I just wanted to inform you, as you wrote "As far as I know they are the only prepositions that behave in this way" :-)
And yeah, there might be other exceptions, but "de" is so often used it is worth mentioning it - at least for the "de" of origin or composition, frequently used (and already seen in exercises on DuoLingo): du fromage de chèvre (goat cheese), des chaussures de sport (sports shoes), etc.
As to "sans" et "en" :
"sans" if often used with the article, just like in English, when you talk about something in particular: "Je bois du café sans sucre" (generality, whether just now or always, but "sucre" is referred to in general), whereas you could say "Je ne pourrais pas le faire sans l'aide de mes amis" (I could never do it without the help of my friends).
"en" is almost never used with the definite article (le, la, les), except in expressions ("en la personne de...", "en l'an 1515", etc.) or with certains verbs, e.g. "croire en": "Je crois en l'humanité" (I believe in humanity/mankind).
Whereas it's often used with the undefinite article (un/une): "en une seconde", "en une page", "en un mois", etc.