why do we need ¨de l'orientation ¨ and not just ¨ d'orientation ¨

NellieA1Kwiziq community member

why do we need ¨de l'orientation ¨ and not just ¨ d'orientation ¨

- Je n'ai jamais eu un bon sens de l'orientation. 

why not just

Je n'ai jamais eu un bon sens d'orientation

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour à tous !

That's indeed one of these excellently tricky questions :)

So just to be absolutely clear, the expression to talk about one's sense of direction is le sens de l'orientation. You would never use sens d'orientation in this context.

Actually the only way I can imagine to use sens d'orientation would be to refer to something's direction of orientation, i.e. which way it's pointing towards, as in le sens d'orientation de cette girouette (the direction of orientation of this weather vane) which we will all agree sounds incredibly redundant and awkward in both languages.

As for the idiomatic expression le sens de l'orientation, the definite article here marks the general caracteristic of "orientation", i.e. we're talking about the general concept of direction, not a specific one. In the same way, you can think of another idiomatic expression: le sens de l'humour :) 

I hope this was helpful.

Bonne journée à tous !

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Nellie,

The noun "orientation" needs an article in front of it in French grammar - it is very rare for this to be untrue for French nouns. So the way to express this noun is "L'orientation".

The "de" is a preposition -- so we have de l'orientation and this will express "of orientation" in English.

So your example would read "I have never had a good sense of orientation" The "of" preposition in English is "de" in French.

Hope this helps.

Jim

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

This explanation is a bit lacking because there are numerous examples to the contrary, e.g., raison d'être and not raison de l'être. That said, I don't have an explanation either. Maybe one of the native kwiziqs could chime in?

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Aurélie,

there's a lot of confusion among kwizzers when it comes to expressing something specific or something general. At one point, the definite article is needed to make it general (as, e.g., here) and at another time using the article makes the meaning specific.

It would be great to grab the bull by its horns and devote a lesson to this topic. Pointing out in which cases the article generalizes and in which it restricts the meaning would be very helpful. At least, it removes the ominous cloud of self-doubt that always seems to suggest that there's something that hasn't quite been understood yet.

Nellie asked:View original

why do we need ¨de l'orientation ¨ and not just ¨ d'orientation ¨

- Je n'ai jamais eu un bon sens de l'orientation. 

why not just

Je n'ai jamais eu un bon sens d'orientation

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