When to use definite articles with ne...ni...ni?

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Sagar

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2018

4 replies

When to use definite articles with ne...ni...ni?

I know this has been asked before, but I'm having trouble determining when to use definite articles when talking about things in general. The two examples in the lesson seem to contradict each other:

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.

Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.

Why is is "le fromage/le lait" in the first example, and simply "vin/eau" in the second one? According to the English translations for each, both sentences seem to refer to the items in general.

Thanks!

This relates to:
Ne ... ni ... ni = Neither ... nor (negation) -

Chris

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2018

11/10/18

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait. -- This refers to a specific situation. The speaker declines cheese and milk at this specific instance.

Je ne veux ni vin ni eau. -- This is a general statement. The speaker doesn't want either wine or water. No matter what.

Sagar

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2018

11/10/18

Hi Chris.

Thanks for your reply. It makes sense. The answers provided in the lesson are ambiguous when it comes to determining the general vs specific cases:

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.
I like neither cheese nor milk.

Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.
He wants neither wine nor water.

There is nothing in either answer specifically calling out the general nature. If anything, the first construction suggests the speaker generally dislikes cheese and milk, although it uses the definite article— the opposite thing your post explains. Is this a wrong example?

Thanks
S

Chris

Kwiziq community member

12 October 2018

12/10/18

Thanks Sagar, for the kind words.

I agree that the English translation is a bit misleading.

Sagar

Kwiziq community member

12 October 2018

12/10/18

Thanks, Chris!

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