FR: il a le/un grand nez qui coule - article

jacques songo'o

Member
spanish
After the verb "avoir" to express a physical state, you must use the definite article with a part of the body to express a transitory state.

Il a le nez qui coule

Does the body part being preceded by an adjective change this?

Il a le/un grand nez qui coule?

Would either work or must it be one or the other?
 
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  • Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    Il a le nez qui coule :tick:
    or:
    Il a son grand nez qui coule :tick:

    "Il a un grand nez qui coule"
    sounds ironical or childish.
    "Il a le grand nez qui coule" does not work. It would suggest he has one big nose and another one which is smaller. But it may work in other contexts, for example:
    "Il avait une main sale et une main propre, et il avait la main sale qui saignait" (implying the clean hand did not bleed)
     
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    jacques songo'o

    Member
    spanish
    Thanks for the reply.

    The reason I asked is my grammar book stated that when permanent physical features are preceded by an adjective with "avoir", the indefinite article must be used.

    It gives "Il a un grand nez pointu" as an example.

    It doesn't say if the same applies with transitory features.

    From your reply it seems the same does not always apply.
     
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    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    Il a le grand nez qui coule is certainly unidiomatic. However, neither Il a un grand nez qui coule nor Il a son grand nez qui coule sound very natural to me as it is odd to say that he has both a big and runny nose. Anyway, I prefer the former with the indefinite article to the possessive adjective…

    In a nutshell:
    Il a le nez qui coule. :thumbsup:
    Il a son nez qui coule. :thumbsup: (less common)
    Il a un nez qui coule. (:thumbsup:) (not incorrect, but odd as it would suggest he has always a runny nose)
    Il a le grand nez. :thumbsdown:
    Il a un grand nez. :thumbsup:
    Il a le nez pointu. :thumbsup:
    Il a un nez pointu. :thumbsup:
    Il a le grand nez pointu. :thumbsdown:
    Il a un grand nez pointu. :thumbsup: (both qualifiers relate to the size/shape)
    Il a le grand nez qui coule. :thumbsdown:
    Il a un grand nez qui coule. (:thumbsup:) (not incorrect, but odd as one qualifier relates to the size/shape and the other to its state)
    Il a son grand nez qui coule. (:thumbsup:) (not incorrect, but odd as one qualifier relates to the size/shape and the other to its state)
     
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