"Tu bois de l'alcool."
Translation:You drink alcohol.
Why it cannot be "You are drinking the alcohol" instead of "You drink alcohol"? How can I differentiate drink and drinking?
"Tu bois de l'alcool" has the partitive article "de l'" (standing for "du" before a vowel sound) which means "(some) alcool". You cannot translate "de l'alcool" to "the alcohol" which would be specific and "l'alcool" in French.
French does not have continuous tenses, so context would tell if "tu bois" means "you drink" or "you are drinking". Of course, these alternative translations are both accepted (if the rest of the sentence is correct as well).
Got it. So "You are drinking alcohol" and "You drink alcohol" both are right? (Its correct to use 'drinking' and 'drink' as long as I eliminate 'the' from the sentence?
You can use "drink" or "are drinking" and "alcool" or "some alcohol", but not "the alcohol".
But then how come "Tu bois de l'eau" translate to You are drinking water" and that is acceptable? I am so confused.
i agree. I don't think this is a proper translation. if you translate directly then it would be you drink alcohol. But we don't say that in english. we say you are drinking the alcohol.
"Tu bois de l'alcool" can mean two things:
- this is what you are doing at this very moment: you are drinking alcohol
- this is a habit of yours: you drink alcohol.
In both cases, "de l'alcool" means "some alcohol", as in "an unknown amount of a mass thing", and it translates to "alcohol".
The sentence is given to you in proper French where "de l'" is a partitive article meaning "an unknown amount of a mass thing".
"Alcool" starts with a vowel, so you have to use "de l'" instead of "du" as you would with "du vin" or "de la" as you would with "de la bière".
The same applies to "de l'eau", feminine.
Can one make the distinction between 'you drink alcohol' which doubles up as you are drinking alcohol,- due to our present tenses, as clarified by Thebubblyhead,- and you are drinking/you drink some alcohol. I can only think of context and 'un peu de', etc.
Why we use in this case de l'alcool but we use l'eau in other examples and not de l'eau?
L'eau = The water
L'alcool = The alcohol
De l'eau = (some) water
De l'alcool = (some) alcohol
That. I think another thing to add is that for "de la" or "de l'" don't think of the "le/l'" part separately, but rather as a whole. If you think of it separately you may mistake the "la/l'" as "the" which shouldn't be the case. It acts like "de" but except it just happens to contain "le/l'".