Verbs and expressions with de


Kwiziq community member

15 April 2019

2 replies

Verbs and expressions with de

in the lesson, there is an example "Il s’agit de la réforme agraire"

the answer is given that With a modified, specific noun, use de + definite article.

The English translation is given as "It’s a question of land reform" which seems to me to be a non-specific noun.

Can anyone explain why land reform is a specific noun in this case, when in English it appears to be a non-specific noun in this case, i.e. a general question of land reform, not "It's a question of the land reform introduced in the 2017 amendments."

All the other specific noun examples appear to use the definite article in the English translation


Kwiziq language super star

15 April 2019


Bonjour Nigel,

The noun réforme is modified by the adjective agraire

If it were just Il s'agit de réforme it would be non-specific and therefore there'd be no article in French.

As I state in the lesson, the English translation usually has "the," but not always.


Kwiziq community member

15 April 2019


Laura, merci a vous.

I hear what you say, but to me land reform in general appears as non specific as reform in general, and neither would take a definite article in English, not that it has merely been omitted in colloquial speech, and that one might speak about one's views on land reform in general on one hand, and might on the other hand speak of a specific piece of land reform and use the definite article to indicate that you were speaking of a specific piece of land reform.

For me, the rule is difficult to apply "logically" in this case, and might be reformulated to make it clearer.  Perhaps the terms specific and non-specific are excess.

You say

 "If it were just Il s'agit de réforme it would be non-specific and therefore there'd be no article in French."

In English one could say "It's about reform of licensing laws" and if that reform hadn't occurred yet, there was just a general discussion about reforming licensing laws in general, and that would be non-specific.  But one could also say "It's about the reform of licensing laws that was introduced last year" and that would be specific and would require the definite article.

Maybe it's just a French rule (way of thinking) that doesn't translate easily into English and we just have to learn the "exceptions"

Bien cordialement

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