"What a big dog!"
Translation:Che cane grosso!
In English, you'd say, "what a dog" to demonstrate incredulity or amazement. It reminds me of the book Charlotte's Web, with What a Pig! :)
If we were to drop the article, it would sound like a question, "what dog?" meaning "Which is it", or "I don't see a dog, are you feeling all right?" ;)
I hope that makes sense.
I know how it's used in English :) My point was (2 years ago!) that "a" in that sentence is entirely idiomatic, and it's not really used as an indeterminate article: if you say "what a pity!" you aren't really pointing out one random pity, and wouldn't "what pity!" work as well in a literary context?
Note that in German both forms are possible, i.e. "what a shame!" in German can be "was für eine Schande!" (with indefinite article like in English) or "welche Schande!" (without, like in Romance languages).
Apologies. Sometimes the mobile app doesn't tell me how recent a comment is, so I just respond. ;)
As to "what pity", in a literary sense, yes, that works. ("What mercy!" "What verve!" "What stupidity!") Adding the article makes it specific in English (though not in romance languages, no,) "What a pity (that dog can't read.)"
When we leave out the article, it makes it intangible, so saying, "what dog" would sound like you're making a case for a state of being dog-like. "What humanity!" (Only for dog-kind, so "what... caninity?" ;) )
I appreciate that it's different in the romance languages, but in English it completely changes the tone and meaning of the sentence. Again, I hope I'm explaining myself correctly, and that it doesn't seem like I'm kicking a dead horse.
No, I see what you mean, but yes, both usages have the same grammatical form in Italian:
- Che fortuna! (what luck! / how lucky!)
- Che uomo! (what a man! / how virile!)
The only difference is that for the first one you could use 'quale' instead of 'che', but it's mostly literary as well. I'm curious if German has the same nuance as English on this.