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  5. "Hugo can't live without elec…

"Hugo can't live without electronic devices."

Translation:Hugo ne peut pas vivre sans appareils électroniques.

July 5, 2020



Why isn't there an article before appareils? If we're talking about electronic devices in general, I would expect les. If a particular set of devices, I would expect des.


It is very common to skip the article after sans.
Je ne pourrais pas vivre sans amour.
Elle est encore sortie sans argent.
Une fête sans musique n'est pas une fête.

If the article is a definite article, a demonstrative or a possessive determiner, you can't skip it.


Just because it is common to skip something does not make it incorrect to include it. To mark it's inclusion wrong does not make sense. And, by your explanation, the definite article "les" must be included.


As I have learned from another posting (which, unfortunately, I cannot attribute):

sans + noun, no article, basically means "without any"

sans + article + noun, means wthout something specific.

So, from Jojo's examples:

Elle est sortie sans argent = "She went out without money"

Elle est sortie sans l'argent que je lui ai donné = "She went out without the money I gave her".

In this exercise, it is not that Hugo cannot live without specific devices, it is that Hugo cannot not live without electronic devices. Therefore, "les" is dropped.


If I understand you correctly, it isn't a question of how you use articles, so much as how you use sans. "She went out with money" would be Elle est sortie avec de l'argent, but "she went out without money" doesn't use de l'. The rules that we learned for using articles in positive sentences go out the window when we have a negative sentence.

While that's confusing to us beginners, there is something similar in English. We can say "she went out with some money", but not "she went out without some money".


I'm sure Jojo is trying to be helpful but by including the word 'common' it gets confusing. Does any one actually know the grammar rule. The de/des/le/les stuff is doing my head in.


She means in English: "without the electronic devices". There is no definite article "the", so les does not appear after sans in this sense.

What's the rule? Sans something means something-less. There isn't anything. Sans with the definite article something means there is something somewhere, but it is without it. Clear as mud?


Thank you, Monsieur Jojo! Clear answers from native French speakers (of which you seem to be one) greatly improve the DL experience for me. It sounds like you are saying that it is idiomatic to omit the article after "sans". It may be a special case that cannot be reconciled with general rules of grammar.


Please can we have elementary gramnar explained before we get frustrated


I had the "type what you hear" version. I understood it well enough but I was curious about the pronunciation. The words appareils and électroniques are pronounced separately, without liaison. In my mind I pronounce this phrase with an liaison, appareils‿électroniques, (with a voiced sibilant at the end of appareils, instead of the normally-silent S). Is this liaison forbidden?


It isn't a forbidden liaison but a "liaison facultative". Personally I would never use the liaison between "appareils" and "électriques", it doesn't sound right to me. It is very rare to have more than one liaison in a small sentence anyway; It then sounds odd and becomes a tongue twister.

In a lot of exercises, Duo put liaisons in places where they would not naturally be used by the French. Some of them sounded so ridiculous that I reported them. They are misleading people who are learning French. I would say that it is best not to put a liaison at all instead of putting one in a wrong place.

Please see the link: https://www.etudes-litteraires.com/regles-de-liaison.php

and with a more thorough explanation: http://monsu.desiderio.free.fr/curiosites/liaison.html#interdites

I hope this will help.


Yes, that helps. A facultative liaison is fine. word packets. I probably leave them out most of the time as well, but this one "appareils electroniques" seems to come naturally to me.

Thank you for the thorough response.


Thank you very much. All such information is like gold dust!


My understanding is that Duolingo doesn’t do liaisons in the slow version. Rather, each word is pronounced separately.


Yes, but I'm pretty sure that @angus is talking about the full-speed recording, which doesn't have any hint of a liaison.


Duo consistently says you must use de or des for unspecified number of objects. Why not here. Annoying as i just lost last heart on final excercise


See Lulularosa's excellent explanation above.

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