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Regarde le cahier que Than reçoit comme cadeau de sa copine.

I was wondering why there isn't an 'un' before the 'cadeau'.

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

I'm not sure Circeus's answer (while valid) is enough to answer your question. These two sentences are correct:

Regarde le cahier que Than reçoit comme cadeau.
Regarde le cahier que Than reçoit comme un cadeau.

In the first one, the speaker adds the precision that he/she talks about the notebook which was offered as a gift. In the second sentence, Than receives a notebook and a precision is added that it looks like a gift, but maybe it isn't.

Note: With this simple construction, because the article disappears, French is not able to make the difference beetween “as a gift” and the less common “as the gift”. One would need complex paraphrases to express the latest.

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To further clarify, if an article (or any determiner, I think) is present, the meaning draws on the distinct function of comme as a conjunction expressing a comparison (in the first sentence, it's just one of several ways to express "as a gift"). – Circeus Apr 12 '12 at 15:11
Yes, the first sentence means "as a gift" where the second means "as if it were a gift" or "something like a gift". – TCHdvlp Jan 19 '15 at 13:14

In French, it is very common for predicatives (attribut) to lack articles (Grevisse §586 b), and indeed in this construction, called an attribut du complément d'objet, "cadeau" is a predicative to "cahier", which is why the article drops.

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"Comme cadeau" translates as a gift. "Comme un cadeau" translates as if it were a gift.

Ex: Cette année, sa mère offrit à Marie un ordinateur comme cadeau d'anniversaire. (This year, her mother gave Marie a computer as a birthday gift).

Ex: Marie accepta le manteau comme un cadeau de sa mère. (Marie took the coat as if it were a gift from her mother). (Her mother passed away and her father gave Marie his late wife's coat).

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