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FR: déterminant défini / indéfini

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by sensa, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. sensa Senior Member

    Canada
    English, Canada
    What is the difference between a déterminant défini and a déterminant indéfini?

    I am learning about "tout" and it can be a

    déterminant défini:

    ils signifient "entier, complet", "unique"
    Elle a travaillé toute la nuit

    déterminant indéfini:

    le sens de "chaque", "n'imprte quel"
    Elle est partie avec tous mes livres
     
  2. Primal

    Primal Senior Member

    Québec, Canada
    Canadian English
    Well, from your examples, défini seems to be something that we know the exact amount, and indéfini seems to be something that we still do not know the exact amount. We know how long the night is, but we do not know exactly how many books with which she left.
    My understanding,
    Prymal
     
  3. jadedhero Junior Member

    Canada
    Canada English/Spanish
    From what I know it's the same difference between a definite and indefinite determiner ('a' being indefinite, and 'the' being definite).
    He studied all of the night (or the whole night) we know it's a specific thing the night.
    She left with all my books. we don't know a specific amount...
     
  4. ascoltate

    ascoltate Senior Member

    Montréal, QC
    U.S.A. & Canada, English
    It's not a question of the word that follows; it's a question of the meaning. Both examples could just have easily been used with the same word:

    "J'ai lu tout le livre" -> I read the whole book
    "J'ai lu tous les livres" -> I read all the books

    "Elle travaille toute la nuit" -> She works all night
    "Elle travaille toutes les nuits" -> She works every night (=chaque nuit)
     

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