FR: Il peut exprimer (de) la politesse - article défini / partitif

declaum

Senior Member
Portuguese - Brazil
Bonjour.

I've read the sentence below in a French grammar book:

"Le futur peut exprimer la politesse."

I expected a partitive article, since "politesse" is an abstract noun, so I tried to figure out why "la " is used instead of "de la". The only information I found concerning the use of the definite or partitive article before an abstract noun states this (which seems incomplete):

"The partitive is also used with abstract nouns after verbs like avoir and falloir. Par exemple: Tu as de la chance. Il faut du courage." (Du, de la, de l', des - French Partitive Articles - Lawless French Grammar).

So my question is the following: when should I use a definite article (as in the grammar book example) and when should I use a partitive article before an abstract noun?

Merci d'avance.
 
  • J'aurais de mal à énoncer une règle, mais il y a une différence entre :

    Le futur peut exprimer la politesse : The future may express politeness

    Le futur peut exprimer de la politesse : The future may express some politeness.
     
    With the definite article, you're talking either about the concept of politeness or about some particular politeness. With the partitive, you're talking about some amount/degree of politeness.

    Le futur peut exprimer la politesse. (the concept of politeness)
    La ponctualité est la politesse des rois. (a particular politeness)
    Vous devriez faire preuve d'un peu plus de politesse.
    (some [more] politeness)
     
    Merci à tous les deux. So, am I right in assuming that besides what I quoted in my original post (use of partitive with abstract nouns after avoir and falloir), there is no general rule and that both replies apply to politesse, but not necessarily to other abstract nouns?
     
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