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Not as risqué a question as one might first think.

Il ne faut pas confondre vitesse et précipitation.  In American English, this would often be translated as "Haste makes waste".  My question isn't about its translation, however.  Rather, it's the fact that neither vitesse nor précipitation is preceded by an article (la, etc.), possessive (sa, etc.), ... or any adjective (bonne, etc.).  Each is bare-naked.

I'm aware of the rule that says that nouns ALMOST always are preceded by some adjective.  Unfortunately, I've not seen the principle or explanation of when they are not.  Can anyone explain it to me, or point me to an explanation ?

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Not quite sure  about this but I can think of phrases like "faire attention" "donner raison"  "avec amour"  etc.

I don't know what the rationale might be but personally I am just happy to recognize them when they crop up.

Maybe someone else  has a better  understanding...


J'ai peur.

J'ai sa voiture.

Why not J'ai la peur?  Or in the original question, why not ... confondre la vitesse...?

Well you know "j'ai la peur " can also be used (in a different way ,of course ).

I  think it might not be a good question ,"why" .

There are "rules" of course (I am not so good at that side of things) .

Oh, now that's interesting.  What is the difference in the way j'ai peur and j'ai la peur are used ?

I am not really  comfortable  answering that  but I imagine that  sometimes the  usages might be completely interchangeable  and just depend on the way the speaker likes to talk.

And,perhaps in other contexts  it might be that "j'ai la peur " may be a little more dramatic than the more normal "j'ai peur"  --but I don't really feel too familiar with this area.

Uses of articles are always interesting, in any languages. We all know the basic rules, but most times the correct decision will just 'click' for you. Yet there is always room for wondering why it's the right decision.
Some previous discussions here:

Hi !

I saw the conversation yesterday and took some time to think about it. Even if I'm a native speaker I have no knowledge of any rule to explain this.... I thought about it and came up with (maybe) the beginning of an explanation.

There is another expression we use to qualify two people who don't get along :

"Ils s'entendent comme chien et chat" ( the verb "entendre" to ear in its personal form (with 's) become to get along/get on)

Of course we could say "Ils s'entendent comme un chien et un chat" which is also perfectly correct....

My theory is that we tend  to remove the article when we want to make a general statement applicable to as many situations as possible. In this case I want to use the common knowledge that cats and dogs don't get along to empower my phrase. I'll not pick just one dog.... there are dogs who loves cats and vice versa, I refer to the fact that almost all the dogs in the world hate almost all the cats in the worlds. So I just use the naked noun in single form to be sure to refer to the entire race.

It's more subtle for "Vitesse et précipitation" but I think it works also.

If I use "Il ne faut pas confondre la vitesse..." I expect a complement... the speed of what ? "et la précipitation" there is no real problem with the second one. Even if "Il ne faut pas confondre la vitesse et la précipitation" is a perfectly correct phrase, if I want to transform it into a credo I must remove the article to give depth and a much wider application.

This is just my reflection, hope it helps :)

I think you may be on the right track, Sandra.  Some sort of generality.

There is also the (mainly literary) usage of omitting the article in an enumeration.  "Femmes, moine, vieillards, tout était descendu" (La Fontaine); "Vieillards, hommes, femmes, enfants, tous voulaient me voir" (Montesquieu).

I understand it because it is just like in Spanish here, but the use of articles is different from the Spanish language in most cases.I find the French use them more.

Here is something about The in English (particularly the last post).

It should bear some relevance to French, whether to suggest similarity or else raise the question 'why different?'

Well you may consider discussions like these a waste of time- just accept the "convention" already, and be done with it. On the contrary, there should exist fairly simple rationale before each convention takes hold.

I found this sentence in a text I am translating. I wonder why they didn't use an article for"couleurs"

...Et quand on commence à parler couleurs, les risques de tomber dans le mauvais goût sont grands.


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