"Avec ou sans eau"

Translation:With or without water

April 5, 2013

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do we not need the article for "eau"?


It seems that nouns that follow "sans" don't necessarily need determiners. This is especially true for uncountable things, e.g. water (a mass noun) or fear (an intangible). Note that a determiner can be placed after "sans". If you want to say "without a dog", you would have to write "sans un chien".

My French friends told me that this is just a weird quirk that you have to learn.



I do not speak with authority, but it seems from these exercises that with a preposition, a noun does not need an article.


Can anyone confirm or refute this? I have the same question and this seems like a legit answer


I refute this. The statement "with a preposition, a noun does not need an article" is false.

French prepositions generally fall into two categories:

  1. require the use of the article before their object

  2. sometimes require and sometimes do not require the use of the article before their object

So, some prepositions will need an article. "Avec" and "sans" are prepositions that do not necessarily need articles.

What DXLi said should be correct. Which prepositions require articles and which don't is a quirk you'll need to memorize.

I am not a native French speaker, but this grammar rule is laid out clearly in English on pages 441-442 of this French grammar book: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=DBYBAAAAYAAJ


So could you ever say "Avec ou sans de l'eau?"


I would say you cannot. Be careful there, avec and sans do not behave the same:

  • Without an article, you can say sans eau (which is the most usual way to say that), and you maaaay hear avec eau (but this is very uncommon).
  • With le, sans l'eau means without the (this very) water, and avec l'eau BOTH MEANS with the (this very) water and with water (in general). On s'hydrate avec l'eau, on se déshydrate sans eau, we stay hydrated with water, and we get dehydrated without water. Arguably, avec de l'eau sounds better, see following case.
  • With de l', sans de l'eau sounds very weird, and you probably don't want to use that. Avec de l'eau, on the other hand, means with some water and is completely fine.

I hope this clarifies a little bit your problem.


So if I understand you, because sans implies a lack, it's not correct to refer to lacking just "some." Avec, because it's dealing with the presence of something, doesn't have that problem.


Some propositions do still require articles. Sur LA tables, devant LE batiment, derriere MAISONS, avec LE lait. It would seem sans is the exception


Derriere les maisons


In French, one would never use an article in negation, like after "sans", "jamais", "pas" etc. :)


Is there no audible difference between eau, au, aux and "oh" (if this expression is used in French)?



eau, eaux (waters), au, aux, oh, haut, aulx (plural of "ail" (garlic), never used but it exists) are all pronounced the same.

There's also the plural of "os" (bone). This one is weird because it's written the same in the singular and in the plural, but pronounced differently. "un os" is pronounced /os/ whereas "des os" is pronounced /o/ . Though a lot of French people don't know this rule and pronounce both forms /os/ .

That's French for you! ^^


Excellent elucidation. Thanks


The partititive article is omitted after certain prepositions such as "sans", "en" and "par".

It is also omitted after the preposition "avec" when an abstract noun follows and when "avec" has the meaning of "qui a"/"who has".

  • A Complete French Grammar for Reference and Practice, page 230, Trudie Maria Booth


Je suis français et même moi je n'ai pas compris. le son "o" pourrait correspondre à "eau", "os", "o", ...

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