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I still can't figure out when to use the article and when not to. I have read that when referring to classes of things, one uses the article.

So to say "dogs hate lemons" it is

los perros odian los limones

But writing "does your dog eat lemons" as

tu perro come los limones

appears to be incorrect. Why is lemons in this case not the class of all lemons?

Thanks

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  • Note for reference that in this usage tu does not have an accent.
    – mdewey
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 11:05
  • @mdewey - fixed it. Thanks!
    – dcsalmon
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 17:10

2 Answers 2

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In the first sentence:

  • Los perros odian los limones

you are referring to lemons in general (as well as to dogs in general). This generic plural use requires the use of the article. The underlying idea is: All dogs hate all lemons.

Instead, in the second sentence:

  • Tu perro come limones

"limones" is an indeterminate plural noun (not "all" the lemons in the world).

We would say:

  • Tu perro come los limones

to refer to certain lemons in particular, for example, those in the basket:

  • Mi perro come las naranjas, y el tuyo come los limones. (My dog eats the oranges, and yours eats the lemons.)

Note: The reply by Diego makes an interesting point about the use of the article when an adjective is used. I think the adjective can be a modifier or an object complement, that is, an adjective that accompanies the noun or an adjective that refers to the object "limones" within the predicate. A sentence like:

  • Tu perro solo come los limones verdes.

can be understood as:

  • Your dog only eats the green lemons (in which case reference is being made to some specific green lemons, as in my example "El tuyo come los limones")

or as:

  • Your dog only eats lemons when they are green (in which case "limones" is generic and "green" describes the way or condition in which in the dog eats them, as in "Your dog eats them green.")
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En líneas generales los adjetivos sirven para informar sobre una "cualidad" del sustantivo o un nombre al que acompañan.

Si tú dices "los perros odian los limones", estás diciendo algo, una "cualidad" general de los perros y es que odian los limones. Sin embargo, si dices "¿tu perro come los limones?" o "does your dog eat lemons?", realmente no estás diciendo ninguna cualidad o característica propia de tu perro, solo estás indicando que tu perro está comiendo. Otra cosa sería que dijeras "tu perro solo come los limones verdes", en este caso "verdes", sí es una cualidad, característica o atributo que hace directamente referencia a los limones.


In general terms, adjectives serve to inform about a "quality" of the noun or a name they accompany.

If you say "dogs hate lemons", you are saying something, a general "quality" of dogs and that is that they hate lemons. However, if you say "your dog eats lemons" or "does your dog eat lemons?", you are not really saying any qualities or characteristics of your dog, you are just indicating what your dog is eating. Another thing would be for you to say "your dog only eats green lemons", in this case "green", if it is a quality, characteristic or attribute that directly refers to lemons.


Puedes profundizar y ampliar información en: / You can deepen and expand information in:

  • Los Adjetivos en Español: Reglas y Ejemplos de Descripciones

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PaAzCpQbdY

  • Los adjetivos en español

https://espanol.lingolia.com/es/gramatica/adjetivos

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