'mange du pain' vs 'mange le pain'

Hugh

Kwiziq community member

26 April 2018

5 replies

'mange du pain' vs 'mange le pain'

Hi there; apologies if this question has been asked and dealt with before. I have just been told that, as a translation of Aurelie eats bread, 'Aurelie mange le pain' is incorrect, with 'Aurelie mange du pain' being the correct answer. I can understand how, if the English was Aurelie is eating bread one would write 'du pain', because Aurelie can only ever be eating some bread at a given moment. I also understand how Aurelie mange le pain would lead one to infer that the sentence is referring to a specific piece of bread that Aurelie is eating. However, surely in English, one of the major connotations of Aurelie eats bread, is that it is a general statement about one of the kinds of food that Aurelie eats (in the same way that one might say Aurelie eats meat (ie Aurelie isn't a vegetarian). And if it is a general statement, then one is effectively saying that Aurelie will eat any bread that is put in front of her. In other words, she doesn't as a general rule, only eat some bread ('du pain') she eats all breads ('le pain'). In which case, shouldn't Aurelie mange le pain be marked correct? What am I missing here? Thanks in advance!

This relates to:
Using du, de la, de l', des to express some or any (partitive articles) -

Chris

Kwiziq community member

26 April 2018

26/04/18

Hi Hugh,

Aurélie mange du pain. -- That's the general statement, without reference to any specific piece or kind of bread. In English you might translate this as:

Aurélie eats (some) bread.
Aurélie is eating (some) bread.

Aurélie mange le pain. -- This versions has the connotation that you are talking about a specific piece of bread that has been talked about before in the context of the sentence. A possible translation to English would be:

Aurélie eats the bread.
Aurélie is eating the bread.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Hugh

Kwiziq community member

26 April 2018

26/04/18

Hi there; thanks for this.

I'm not sure it addresses my central query: if the statement Aurelie eats bread is intended to signify that, as a general rule, Aurelie is an eater of bread (Do you take sugar in your tea?, I am allergic to mushrooms, He loves biscuits, might all be  a similar sort of statement), then how would one write that in French?

Alan

Kwiziq community member

26 April 2018

26/04/18

But Hugh's point, which I agree with, is that "Aurelie eats bread" would only be used in the sense that Aurelie is not, say, allergic to bread. So it's similar to "Aurelie likes bread" or "Aurelie dislikes bread". Compare that to the example "Il déteste le café" in this lesson:

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/use-le-la-l-or-les-before-nouns-when-generalising-definite-articles

Chris

Kwiziq community member

27 April 2018

27/04/18

Well, I am not sure I can explain it any different than I did in my previous post:

"Je suis végétarien mais je mange du pain." -- That's the general statement.

"Je mange le pain qui reste sur la table." -- That's with reference to a specific piece of bread.

The verb "aimier" is different in this respect:

J'aime le pain. -- I like bread. This is the general statement for aimer. But not for manger.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

P.S.: I have talked to two French native speakers about this and the corroborate my understanding.

Alan

Kwiziq community member

27 April 2018

27/04/18

You added one new thing in this post - the verb aimer is different. This is definitely the key issue. I've seen it described in grammar books as verbs of preference, so also includes préferer, adorer, détester etc. But the question is whether it really only applies to a specific list of verbs, or also to other verbs when a generalisation is involved.

I would like to get the opinion of one of the experts on this site.

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