"The child is at the table."

Translation:Copilul este la masă.

November 17, 2016

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Why is it la masă instead of la masa in this case? Wouldn't masa translate to "the table" as opposed to masă which just means table?



Simply put: different languages have different rules for when to use articles.

Short version, that works in a lot of situations:
* when using the definite article in English, you would use no article in Romanian:
We are going to the circus. - Mergem la circ.
* when using the indefinite article in English, you would use the indefinite article in Romanian.
We are going to a circus. - Mergem la un circ.
(the nuances in English are kept in Romanian).

These rules are kinda complicated, I'll try my best:

The definite article is omitted with nouns preceded by a preposition that is not "cu" (with)
The child is at the table. - Copilul e la masă.
The food is on the table. - Mâncarea e pe masă.
The chair is next to the table. - Scaunul e lângă masă.

But is required when using an adjective with said noun
The child is at the large table. - Copilul e la masa mare.
The food is on the white table. - Mâncarea este pe masa albă.
The chair is next to the tall table. - Scaunul e lângă masa înaltă.

And is required with "cu"
He is leaving with the chair. - El pleacă cu scaunul.
We are going by car. - Noi mergem cu mașina.

However, it is ommited with cu if talking about adding something (having a property)
Lemon tea. - Ceai cu lămâie.
House with wheels. - Casă cu roți.

The definite article is also required when talking about family members
I talked to mom about this. - Am vorbit cu mama (not mamă) despre asta.
He is your uncle. - El este unchiul tău.

Or when adding a possesive adjective
He is your friend. - El este prietenul tău.
She stole your pencil. - Ea ți-a furat creionul.

The indefinite article is not required when talking about the status of someone (religion, nationality, sex etc.)
He is a man. - El e (un) bărbat.
She is a student. - Ea este (o) studentă.
Bob is a muslim. - Bob e (un) musulman.

However, it is required when adding an adjective to said status
He is a kind man. - El e un om bun.
She is a lazy student. - Ea este o studentă leneșă.
Bob is a devout muslim. - Bob e un musulman devotat.

The indefinite article is not required when talking about two objects in some relation (I don't know how to express this)
It's a chair, not a table. - E masă, nu scaun.
Is it a spoon or a fork? - E lingură sau furculiță?

The indefinite article is ommited with nouns preceded by interrogative/indefinite pronominal adjectives
What a great book! - Ce carte grozavă!

In all other cases, things should be the same in both languages, unless I am forgetting something.

"required" means that the article must be there.
"not required" means that the article may or may not be there.
"ommited" means that the article must not be there.

Disclaimer: I am a native speaker, but I might have forgotten some obscure exceptions to these rueles.



Best explanation I've seen so far regarding this topic here on duolingo, kudos to you! :)

”The definite article is also required when talking about family members I talked to mom about this. - Am vorbit cu mama (not mamă) despre asta. He is your uncle. - El este unchiul tău.”

Not only family members. ;) I talked to the teacher/principal/doctor. Am vorbit cu profesorul/directorul/doctorul.


Also, the definite article is used together with possessives, right? For example la masa mea.


What happened to this so highly praised comment? Sounds like useful information to know


Fantastic explanation ! I wish I could thank you more for this. Seems Romanian grammar is fairly hard after all, especially compared to Spanish. I think I got what you meant ... nouns after prepositions require no article, cu being the exception.


Spanish is not completely different, a lot of these rules are used in Spanish too (I'm a native Spanish), ... and way too different from English, which is like the opposite in these grammar rules lol


What an amazing and thorough explanation! Multumesc mult! It's a lot more complicated than I thought, the part with prepositions.


How marvelous is romanian. I am pretty amazed (Native spanish speaker).


We're supposed to know se află for the "Pick All Correct Translations" activity... because... why?


came here to ask the same question. absolute BS.


What is the difference in the pronunciation of a and ă?


not a native but I live with romanians

a - "ah"

ă - "ugh"

â - "euh"


masa = "mah-sah"

masă = "mah-suh"


Why doesn't it mean "The child is the table?" Where is the clarifying adjective? It's what confused me - is it assumed? The child could be on the table or under it, or other alternatives.


There is the "la" which in this case translates to "at". If the child was the table, it would be " copilul e masa". This is not french. "La" is not the article here. "O masă" is "a table", but "masa" means "the table". The definitive article is in the word ending.

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