"He is going to be hungry if he only eats lettuce."

Translation:Il va avoir faim s'il ne mange que de la laitue.

June 27, 2020

This discussion is locked.


I've seen "de la laitue" and "les laitues" in this branch. When is lettuce singular versus plural?


Itʼs singular when the sentence is general, meaning the lettuce is an uncountable, indefinite amount, and he is going to be hungry no matter how much he eats if he only eats lettuce. Itʼs plural when the sentence is specific, such as youʼre actually eating lettuce right now.


The only other sentence I've seen with les laitues (so far) was the one about the snails having eaten all the lettuce. In that case, I think the idea was that they had eaten all the heads of lettuce that were growing in the garden.

It probably comes down to "lettuce" being an uncountable noun and la laitue being a countable one.

  • So in French if you mean several heads of lettuce you would say les/des laitues.

  • If you mean a single head, then you use la laitue.

  • If you mean lettuce in general (e.g. let's have lettuce for dinner), then you would use de la laitue.


"De la laitue" means "(some) lettuce", not "lettuce in general", as does your example.


Caveat: I'm not a native speaker, so this might be wrong.


I'd like to know this too.


Why is it que de la laitue and not que la laitue?


I believe that "lettuce" is classified as a mass (uncountable) noun which requires the partitive article - here de la because laitue is a feminine noun.


I wrote "...s'il ne mange que les laitues." Wouldn't this be correct if all he ever eats is lettuce? I would translate "...que de la laitue" as "if he only eats some lettuce." Please comment.


That would be "the lettuces", not "lettuces". It cannot realistically be a generalisation.

Even if it's the only thing he ever eats, he cannot be expected to consume "lettuce in general".


S'il ne mange que de la laitue... Wonder if it's really wrong to say "s'il mange seulement de la laitue"?


No, it's the same thing. Was it rejected?


Ne que vs. seulement. On the Lawless site, the moderator says both may be used, but to her, using ne … que is more elegant.

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