Yes ... but seeing as how there is no context and therefore no knowledge as to whether or not it is a dish of rice or rice in general, I would think that both would and should be acceptable.
UNLESS Spanish is perfectly parallel with English in this and 'servir el arroz' always means to serve a specific dish of rice and 'servir arroz' means 'serve rice' in general?
Can you say "...servir arroz." ?
That article about definite articles suggests that we /have/ to use the definite article with nouns used in a general sense. The examples it gives are
La comida de México es deliciosa. (Mexican food is delicious.)
Las películas de Almodóvar son interesantes. (Almodóvar's movies are interesting.)
This is more along the lines of what I was thinking.
Perhaps there's a site that would define the difference between
'Voy a servir arroz' and 'Voy a servir el arroz' ?
Because I think that that article about definite articles is suggesting that the second one is the one to use when rice is used in a general sense ... that's my take on it at any rate.
Not sure about the meaning for the first one. Wondering if 'un plato de arroz' or something along those lines might not be what might be used for 'a rice dish.'
Yes, you can say Voy a servir arroz. It is perhaps somewhat more common to say el arroz in Spanish than English, but this usage is basically parallel.
Here is a link that explains when the definite article is used in Spanish when it isn't in English
If it is not one of the listed exceptions, assume that the use is the same.
Ianisona I am responding above to your comment above it as we are too deep in and have no more reply buttons.
You misunderstood the term generalizing in their context. When we generalize or make a generalization we are making a comment about ALL of something. When we say Mexican food is delicious you are saying ALL Mexican food is delicious. This is a situation when we NEVER use the definite article in English as we use the definite article to identify a particular subset of the whole, but in Spanish they include when you are talking about the whole set. Certainly many times we make generalizations about something we understand there are exceptions, but our statement does not say that. If you have ever made a generalization in front of an argumentative child they would prove that. You say Mexican food is delicious and they reply Not all Mexican food is delicious, mole is disgusting.
So I might say me gusta el arroz el arroz es sabroso, or even El arroz es blanco. Each of these statements is talking about all rice, although my argumentative kids would object to the last one because of brown rice. But when you say you serve rice, you might say you served all THE rice (which simply means all that was there or made etc) but you would never say that you serve all rice.
One of the easy ways for me to remember this idea is reading Paul's comments on faith, hope, and love (charity) in Spanish
Y ahora permanecen la fe, la esperanza y el amor, estos tres: pero el mayor de ellos es el amor.
Depending on your background that may or may not be helpful to you. But the faith, the hope, and the love sounds so strange in English it helps me remember that it works in Spanish as you are talking about all of it in general.
Voy a servir el arroz. I am going to serve the rice. Voy a servir arroz. I am going to serve rice. In this sentence the addition of the addition of the definite article makes the exact same difference in the Spanish sentence as in the English. Qué vas a servir a tus suegros esta noche. Voy a servir arroz. But Sirve la carne, por favor. Voy a servir el arroz. I can see how you could call the former talking in a general sense, but it is not making a generalization about all rice. In French the first sentence would still require the partative article du which is roughly some. If you can add some to the sentence and not change the meaning, you are not generalizing. So in the first example when asked what you are going to serve your in-laws, you answer rice. You are not saying all rice, you are saying some rice, from somewhere unstated. But in the second example you are probably standing in the kitchen with a helper in front of pans of cooked food, so you are neither generalizing about all meat and all rice nor taking about some meat and some rice of unstated origen. You are talking about THE meat and THE rice in front of you in the pans (specific subset) . So, in this case, since this is not one of the differences between English and Spanish usage, you translate the article if you see it because it makes a somewhat different statement. Even without context it works. If someone out if the blue said Voy a servir el arroz or I am going to serve the rice, I would expect them to get up and come back with some prepared rice dish.
Being a mass noun has nothing to do with it.
If you are going to serve a specifically designated rice (say, the rice that you have prepared for supper), then you would say "serve the rice." Or "are we ready to eat the rice?" On the other hand, if we have no specifically designated rice, we say "do you want rice tonight"? or "I am going to serve rice (tonight)
It depends on whether (some) rice has been previously designated, or not.
Yes , you could serve the dish of rice. If you say "the rice", you are specifying "the rice that was cooked."
Also, if you say I am going to serve "rice" that inevitably means " some rice " so you may mean " to each person" or you may mean " there will probably be some left over." I am going to serve rice and chicken can mean that you are preparing and it may not even be bought yet. If you say "I am going to serve the rice." It can mean you will be serving everyone and splitting up all the rice that you have cooked or that you will be serving everyone the rice and then you will serve the next dish, maybe the vegetables.
Sometimes Spanish uses the definite article when in English we would not: http://spanish.about.com/od/adjectives/a/intro_def_art.htm
There are some similarities, but there are many differences. In some respects they are opposite. (They use articles for abstract nouns (and nouns in general).
. For example: "La unidad es mejor que el dinero." (Unity is better than money) "El gobierno necesita mejorar la seguridad." ("The government needs to improve security..")
I don't yet have it figured out, but here are some other references http://www1.udel.edu/leipzig/Assistant/artdef.htm http://www.onetoonespanish.co.uk/blog/the-definite-article-in-spanish.htm
Rule of thumb in English, if you use the definite article "the," you can expect that people are going to ask themselves, "which one?" If the answer isn't obvious by context, you shouldn't use "the."
In this example, "I am going to serve the rice," would warrant the question, "Well... which rice is he serving?" If you had a plate of rice directly in front of you, it would be obvious that you meant you are going to be serving that rice right there. If there's no rice in sight, native speakers will be confused. "What rice could he be talking about? I don't see any rice."
I think there is a subtle meaning difference at least to my ear. If someone asked me what I am going to serve for dinner or at an event I would say I am going to serve rice. But if I were in my kitchen looking over what I had to serve I might say I am going to serve the rice (ie in the pot on the left as opposed to the pasta on the right) It is a response to a choice. The flight attendant asks, "Do you want chicken or fish?" You could certainly say I will have chicken but you might well say I will have the chicken.
In English, the article is optional...because you have the option of saying two DIFFERENT things with two different shades of meaning.
"I'm going to serve rice & beans at my party" is a fine general statement that would sound weird if you inserted an article, unless you are in the midst of talking about some specific rice to merit a "the" in front of "rice".
However if you're sitting at a dinner table with guests in your dining room with a bunch of different foods cooked, it's normal to say "I'm going to go serve the rice", that is the particular rice that is sitting in a bowl in the kitchen that I cooked earlier.
Without the article it is abstract, with the article it is concrete.
If you are at a restaurant, when you first place your order you can say "Can we get fried rice please?" An hour later & the waiters have brought every dish of food except the rice, food's starting to get cold, you start to get annoyed, they must have forgotten the order, you call the waiter over & say "Can you serve THE fried rice please?" That is, can you serve the specific order of fried rice that we asked for. "Oh, THE rice, I'm so sorry, let me go get that for you right away." If you just say "Can you serve fried rice please?", it would just sound like you are placing a new order to go with your dinner. "Oh you'd like some rice, sure, I'll go put the order in right now".
At a restaurant you can ask the waiter "Do you serve rice?" That is, does this restaurant cook any kind of rice that I can order? "Do you serve the rice?" would actually put the focus on "you", that is, waiter, are you the person who comes over & serves the rice around here? Which would be a weird question in most contexts.
Perhaps substitute "drinks" for "rice", or better yet a specific type of drink, "cocktails".
You ask the waiter "Do you serve cocktails?" The waiter answers "Yes, we serve cocktails here."
You ask the waiter "Do you serve the cocktails?" The waiter replies "No, one of the barmaids will come over to serve the cocktails".
Two different answers to 2 different questions depending on whether the little word "the" is thrown in there.
And in general the definite article would change the focus of the sentence AWAY from whatever object you threw "the" in front of.
"I am going to serve rice"- the main point of the sentence is the abstract concept of rice, if you love rice come to my party because I happen to be serving it.
"I am going to serve the rice"- the main point of the sentence is "I" as the subject & my intention to be the one to go pick up & serve the bowl of rice. Nobody else has to do it, I'm taking care of the rice-serving. The concrete existence of "the rice" is given, "I'm going to serve the rice. Can you serve the beans and someone else serve the chicken please?"
You're not getting rice-lovers excited telling them about your plan to serve the abstract Platonic ideal conception of "rice", you're just doing the mundane chore of grabbing "the rice" to serve while others grab the other food items to serve, check off the list so you don't forget to serve something you cooked.
I'm a native speaker (in the US) and "the rice" is quite natural to me and everyone I know. When my wife and I plan dinner she asks me to make the rice, since paella isn't her forte. Sometimes she ask me to check the rice, since she doesn't have enough hands. And, sometimes, I even serve the rice. The use of "the" depends on the context.
Hello DanD8.... I'm looking for some positive direction from a native speaker...... If I asked you what you are serving for supper, and you responded with "I'm serving rice" would you say "Voy a servir el arroz" or "voy a servir arroz" Thanks in advance !! On another note.... can I come over for PAELLA? :)
I'm sorry, Riq5, I should have been clearer. I'm a native speaker of English from the US. I was making the point that "the rice" is an appropriate phrase in English. I did ask a friend of mine, a Spaniard, and she said that it's more or less the same as English. You add the "el" when being specific.
And yes, the paella will be ready at five :). My Spanish blood might not be first generation, but the recipe is.
Both "rice" and "the rice" are used. It depends on context. "Rice": "What are you going to serve with the meat" "I am going to serve rice." "The rice": "What are you going to serve?" "I'm going to serve soup, salad, rice, meat and dessert". You've brought out the soup and salad. What are you going to serve now?" "I am going to serve the rice."
It+a+infinitive is a special construction for a more informal future tense which is very parallel to our going to. Just as the phrase I am going to serve the rice does not necessarily imply any motion away, but rather is an alternate future tense to I will serve the rice, Voy a servir el arroz is an alternate form of Serviré el arroz. If you just say I go to you definitely are referring to motion and it is possible for those phrases to be ambiguous as in I am going to work later. Are you traveling to work later or just working on something later? The Spanish can also be ambiguous, but most people don't travel to serve rice.
"I am going to" has two meanings, depending on context. Usually, it means "I am about to" or "I intend to" or "I will". It can also mean "I am moving to a place" where I will do something. "I go to" has the second meaning, so "I go to serve the rice." means "I am moving to some location where I will serve the rice."
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It's hard to sort through the comments, but no, in this case the use of the definite article has exactly the same effect in Spanish as it does in English. It is identifying a particular rice, probably the one in the pan in the kitchen waiting to be served. The situation where Spanish does have a difference comes from the fact that when you are generalizing about something, in other words talking about all of it, you never use the definite article in English but you must use it in Spanish. So in English the sentence Coffee is hot is a generalizing statement. We know that from the LACK of an article. The sentence The coffee is hot is talking about a specific cup or pot of coffee. But in Spanish both of these sentences would be translated to El café está caliente. This is the situation which causes English speakers to think the definite article is always used in Spanish. But when you are referring to some, the definite article is not used. So if you were to ask someone what they were going to serve at a dinner party, a Spanish speaker would list the dishes without articles just as an English speaker would. So this sentence is said by someone about to serve a particular dish of rice. To make sense of it I assume they are either serving one dish at a time or saying they will serve the rice and assigning another to serve the meat, or whatever else.
The sentence is perfectly correct in English. Using the direct article (the) simply refers to some specific rice, eg the rice which is on the table. It is perfectly natural (indeed almost necessary) to use this in many circumstances. Eg I'm going to serve the rice. You serve the meat. As in many cases, much depends on the context.