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Thread: Definite article usage

  1. #1
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    Definite article usage

    Like continental European languages with definite articles, Hebrew uses definite noun phrases more commonly than English. I wonder if the recent influence of English made the definite article less common than it used to be. Are there general guidelines on when to use a definite article in Hebrew where English wouldn't? Where would Hebrew not use a definite article unlike, say, German or Spanish?
    Last edited by trigel; 2nd April 2013 at 1:43 AM.

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    Re: Definite article usage

    Hebrew would use a definite article wherever a definite article is, and an indefinite article wherever an indefinite article is.
    All the seats are taken in the parliament of fools!

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    Re: Definite article usage

    I'm sorry, I was specifically talking about using definite articles on abstract nouns:
    I know that religions and other fixed concepts are definite:
    היהדות, הנצרות, התוב והרע
    תחי הדמוקרטיה

    Are abstract nouns definite when they denote the concept itself, and indefinite by default (unless where you would use the definite article in English) when referring to individual manifestations of the concept as below?
    So is "Mistrust characterized their relationship" חוסר אמון אפיין את יחסיהם?

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    Re: Definite article usage

    Whats an abstract noun?
    yes it is!

    EDIT: http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A9%...A2%D7%A6%D7%9D שם עצם מופשט הוא שם עצם אבסטרקטי

    I cant think of an indefinite abstract noun in hebrew; i dont think it exists

    EDIT 2: actually, all nouns and abstract nouns can be definite and indefinite; going back to what i said in my first post: Hebrew would use a definite article wherever a definite article is, and an indefinite article wherever an indefinite article is.
    All the seats are taken in the parliament of fools!

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    Re: Definite article usage

    "Hebrew would use a definite article wherever a definite article is [in Hebrew]": Can you look at my "mistrust characterized their relationship" example? In case I'm not being charitable enough could you explain what you mean here? Surely it can't mean "wherever a definite article is in English", because English doesn't always use definite articles where Hebrew does. Why are you phrasing this like a tautology?

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    Re: Definite article usage

    Quote Originally Posted by trigel View Post
    Are abstract nouns definite when they denote the concept itself, and indefinite by default [1] (unless where you would use the definite article in English [2]) when referring to individual manifestations of the concept as below[3]?
    So is "Mistrust characterized their relationship" חוסר אמון אפיין את יחסיהם?

    [1] yes, you could say that.
    [2] an example please
    [3] i guess so.
    All the seats are taken in the parliament of fools!

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    Re: Definite article usage

    Quote Originally Posted by trigel View Post
    "Hebrew would use a definite article wherever a definite article is [in Hebrew]": Can you look at my "mistrust characterized their relationship" example?[2] In case I'm not being charitable enough could you explain what you mean here? Surely it can't mean "wherever a definite article is in English", because English doesn't always use definite articles where Hebrew does[3]. Why are you phrasing this like a tautology?[1]
    [1] Because, in hebrew a thing is either definite [ concrete] or it is indefinite [ abstract], and wherever it is concrete it is a definite thing, and wherever it is an abstract thing it is indefinite.
    [2] i have looked at it, thats my edit 1+2
    [3] true it is, but here its one of those gaps only knowledge helps.

    A tip: if the thing youre saying can be broken/split to the+words its definite, otherwise it is not and it is abstract.

    a thing is concrete iff the word is not abstract and vice versa.
    All the seats are taken in the parliament of fools!

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    Re: Definite article usage

    Because, in hebrew a thing is either definite [ concrete] or it is indefinite [ abstract], and wherever it is concrete it is a definite thing, and wherever it is an abstract thing it is indefinite.
    ?כיצד זה חל על הדוגמא שנתתי
    (
    חוסר אמון אפיין את יחסיהם)

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    Re: Definite article usage

    Quote Originally Posted by trigel View Post
    Because, in hebrew a thing is either definite [ concrete] or it is indefinite [ abstract], and wherever it is concrete it is a definite thing, and wherever it is an abstract thing it is indefinite.
    How does this apply to my example (
    חוסר אמון אפיין את יחסיהם)?
    Because חוסר אמון isnt definite, its a definite thing about trust - they do not trust each other, but they have mistrust.
    If mistrust would cause something then as a whole it could be a definite thing:
    חוסר האמון גרם למשבר

    so in a way, perhaps an abstract noun is definite iff it has consequences.
    All the seats are taken in the parliament of fools!

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    Re: Definite article usage

    Quote Originally Posted by trigel View Post
    Are abstract nouns definite when they denote the concept itself, and indefinite by default (unless where you would use the definite article in English) when referring to individual manifestations of the concept as below?
    I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "the concept itself". I agree that one would say
    חוסר אמון אפיין את יחסיהם
    but use a definite article when referring to the mistrust in their relationship:
    חוסר האמון ביניהם היה מאפיין עיקרי שי מערכת היחסים ביניהם.

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    Re: Definite article usage

    What I conjectured was:

    when the abstract uncountable noun refers to mistrust in general, or the one and only concept of "mistrust", definite article is required.
    "Mistrust destroys relationships" = "חוסר האמון הורס מערכות יחסים"

    However when you are talking about, say, how mistrust is being realized in a specific situation, the abstract noun can be indefinite, but doesn't have to be. The indefinite/definite distinction is made in the same way as in English.
    "Mistrust characterized their relationship" = חוסר אמון אפיין את יחסיהם
    "The mistrust between them was a main characteristic of their relationship" = "
    חוסר האמון ביניהם היה מאפיין עיקרי של מערכת היחסים ביניהם"
    Last edited by trigel; 6th April 2013 at 7:43 PM.

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    Re: Definite article usage

    "Mistrust destroys relationships" = "חוסר האמון הורס מערכות יחסים"
    ה is optional here, if you put the ה in, omitted words are הוא דבר ש between האמון and הורס.
    All the seats are taken in the parliament of fools!

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