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https://www.duolingo.com/mstahr11

When are definite articles required before direct objects referring to abstract things?

Consider these two examples from duolingo:

"No es posible llevar perros a este hotel." Translation: It is not possible to take dogs to this hotel.

"Esto no mejora las cosas." Translation: This does not improve things.

Previously, I thought that definite articles were always used when referring to abstract, general nouns. This rule would explain why we use "las cosas" in the example above rather than simply "cosas".

However, it would also suggest that the first example should be "los perros" rather than "perros," since we are saying that dogs (in general) aren't allowed. But duolingo marks "los perros" wrong. So the rule must not be as simple as I'm assuming.

Can anyone explain why the use of the definite articles in these sentences is different, and what general rule I should be using?

3 years ago

4 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/ElimGarak

The definite article is required before generic nouns (nouns that refer to things in general) ... including countable nouns which refer to all the members of their class: El tigre es un animal peligroso. (Source: A new reference grammar of modern Spanish 3rd edition)

DuoLingo doesn't care about the finer points of grammar, it looks for specific words. If it had wanted "the dogs" it would have have said "los perros" I would suggest picking up a good grammar book though, it can often help define some of the quirkier aspects of Spanish grammar.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mstahr11

ElimGarak,

Thanks for the reply. I should clarify something. When I encountered the question about the dogs, it was given in reverse, ie, I had to translate from English to Spanish. I used "los perros," thinking that dogs in this case was a generic noun, but I was marked wrong. Are you saying that Duolingo was incorrect to mark me wrong? If not, I still don't understand why the "los" can be dropped, since your reply is suggesting that my original understanding of the rule is correct.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ElimGarak

I think that DuoLingo isn't programmed to check for proper grammar - so it doesn't instill proper grammar either. Even though I have that massive grammar book, it's not really possible to program into this site all the rules and all their exceptions. But my book did say that usually wherever there's a definite article in English, it's there in Spanish, too. So since in English it doesn't say "the dogs" then in Spanish you can drop the "los". I just don't think you should rely on DuoLingo for grammar - StudySpanish and SpanishDict are both sites with much more grammar information.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JediMasterYogurt
JediMasterYogurt
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While it's true that whenever there's a definite article in English, there's one in Spanish too, it doesn't follow that whenever there ISN'T one in English, it is permissible to also not use it in Spanish.

3 months ago