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Why is "House of Fruit" (or "Fruithouse") - a restaurant/business near Hollister, California - called "Casa de Fruta"?

Why is it not "Casa de la Fruta"?

Is there a rule of thumb so that one can know when "del" or "de la" should be used, and when "de" is good enough/preferred?

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Del is the contration between De + El (note this is el article it, and not él pronoun he). Voy a casa de el doctor is wrong, you say Voy a casa del doctor instead. There is no contraction for De + La however (Voy a casa de la doctora is ok). Keep in mind this rule don't apply if the article el is part of a name: Traje este sombrero de El Paso is the correct way and not Traje este sombrero del Paso.

Sidenote, this also happens with A + El (Voy a el consultorio to Voy al consultorio) and not with 'A + La' (Voy a la pileta).

Back to your question, it's not wrong to translate to Casa de Fruta nor Casa de la Fruta, but the first one is in this case nicer, and also is the common way to translate this shop names. It's like Tea House to Casa de Té or Wine House to Casa de Vino(s).

In other cases, the second translation would be the more common ones, like House of Terror to Casa del Terror. This applies for names when de is being used as an adjetive, there is no rule, it's just which one sounds nicer. But when you are talking about things (using possesive articles), the correct way is always del, for example Las joyas del rey.

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    I agree, but note that it is correct Las joyas del rey as "rey" here is not a person, but a role. if you say Las joyas de Felipe (spanish king today) you should not use the article. – Blas Soriano Jun 5 '15 at 15:38
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Casa de Fruta seems a bit ugly to me; I think it should be Casa de la Fruta. The meaning of de here does not express ownership, but material. ¿De quién es la casa? La casa es de la fruta. Who owns the house? The fruit owns the house. ¿De qué está hecha la casa? La casa está hecha de fruta. What's the house made of? The house is made of fruit.

If we use de without any article, it may mean the material that the house is made of (fruit). For example, the chocolate house in "Hansel and Gretel" fairy tale. La casa de chocolate. ¿De qué está hecha la casa? La casa está hecha de chocolate. What's the house made of? The house is made of chocolate.

When to use del or de la as ownership? When you refer to any subject that is not a person. El collar del perro está hecho de cuero. The dog's collar is made of leather.

When to use de (without article)? When you refer to any subject that is a person. El coche de Manolo es verde. Manolo's car is green.

Also you could use a poetry license, using an object or an animal like if it were a person; that's named Personificación or Prosopopeya. That could be the case, if Fruta is acting like a person, so able to be the owner of the house. But I think this is not such a case, as you wrote FruitHouse, instead of Fruit's House.

EDIT: Last times we can see things like Casa de Fruta, or Casa de Vinos, without article, but I guess it's a flawed translation from english trends. We have a lot of example where traditionally we use it with article, like La casa del pueblo, La casa del inmigrante, La casa del libro.

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