Definite articles

PeterA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Definite articles

la lluvia ácida. Esta  es muy perjudicial para el medio ambiente porque contamina los ríos y la vegetación. 

If definite articles are used on the subject of a sentence, why are they used with ríos and vegetación? Isn't the subject of the sentence acid rain? If a word that  receives  the action of the verb (contaminar) is the object , doesn't that make ríos and vegetación objects not subjects? 

I think I've reached the limit of all my understanding of grammar in both Spanish and English. I can't get this right. I'm ready to quit.

Asked 1 year ago
MarshaC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The definite article is used in Spanish but not in English when you talk about nouns in a general sense:

-En esta región se produce el vino

-Lo más importante es la esperanza.

-la lluvia ácida contamina los ríos y la vegetación. 

In these cases the nouns denote the whole of what they represent — all wine, all hope, all rivers and vegetation etc. 

When the noun only refers to part or some of it, the article is omitted:

Yo tomo carne. I’m having meat. (i.e. some meat).

Oh and remember when learning spanish, grammar isn't the most important thing, so don't give up!

PeterA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

After 3 years I still don't get it and every time it is 50-50 whether I get it right. Thank you very much for your help though, it is much appreciated.

PeterA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

And does my example of subjects and objects make any sense or am I wrong about that?

MarshaC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I still have issues with this. My grammar book says the rules are notoriously difficult to explain! However the best explanations [too long to write here because there are exceptions to some of the rules] can be found in the book A new reference Grammar of Modern Spanish published by Routledge. I find it very useful and comprehensive.

ClaraC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Please don't give up Peter. I often get frustrated too. The thing I find most helpful is reading as much Spanish as I can. In my opinion, only when we see and hear a language being used can we fully immerse ourselves in it and thus truly grasp it's grammar. 

By the way, I really appreciate your honesty in admitting your struggle with this. Often people feel embarrassed at being unable to grasp something. The teachers are so wonderful here, as are many of the students and all are willing to help and share when they can. 

Saludos 

Clara :)

PeterA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you.

InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Peter

The use or omission of articles is one of the most difficult things to master when learning Spanish as a foreign language. As Marsha said, there is no clear-cut rule for this. There are cases where the article is compulsary, e.g. when using gustar or when there is a noun being the subject of the sentence, but in many other different structured sentences the omission or the presence of the article doesn't have a clear justification other than seeing that noun as a more general noun (omission) or being a bit more specific (presence). 

I keep researching more on this subject and we may soon have an article about this with as much clarification as possible. 

Saludos y ¡ánimo!

Inma

Definite articles

la lluvia ácida. Esta  es muy perjudicial para el medio ambiente porque contamina los ríos y la vegetación. 

If definite articles are used on the subject of a sentence, why are they used with ríos and vegetación? Isn't the subject of the sentence acid rain? If a word that  receives  the action of the verb (contaminar) is the object , doesn't that make ríos and vegetación objects not subjects? 

I think I've reached the limit of all my understanding of grammar in both Spanish and English. I can't get this right. I'm ready to quit.

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