It's not that he likes any specific tart or specific apples in it, but he likes tarts in general and apples in general. So I'm confused about the reason.

  • Il raffole de la tarte aux pommes.

3 Answers 3


Unlike in English, the definite article in French isn't intrinsically specific, and is in fact obligatory when a generic meaning is intended.

To mark specificity, we usually use a demonstrative or possessive determiner, both of which mark a noun phrase as specific:

Il raffole de ta tarte aux pommes.

Il raffole de cette tarte aux pommes.

Il raffole de cette tarte-là.

The definite article can be both generic or specific, but its normal reading is generic. You'd need some other element to mark a noun phrase with a definite article as specific, generally some kind of nominal or phrasal complement:

Il raffole de la tarte aux pommes de sa grand-mère

Il raffole de la tarte aux pommes que tu lui a cuisinée

(In both cases, an English translation would use a definite article here, rather than the zero article used with generics)

In some cases, doubling pronouns can be used to disambiguate between generic and specific:

Les chiens, ça aboie (Dogs bark - generic)

Les chiens, ils aboient (the dogs are barking - specific)


There are a few cases where la can be dropped:

C'est lui qui a pris le plus de tarte aux pommes (follows quantity adverb)

Il ne veux pas de tarte aux pommes (negative sentence, de la is also possible here)

Il s'est gavé de tarte aux pommes (de = preposition, colloquial, means "he force-fed himself with apple-pie")

  • 1
    No partitive article here. The de is a preposition required by the verb's valence (you can't say "il raffole la tarte") and a partitive sentence would be "Il rafolle de tarte aux pommes" where the partitive article is deleted to avoid a double de Dec 8, 2016 at 19:08
  • @Eauquidort You are right, thanks for the correction!
    – jlliagre
    Dec 8, 2016 at 20:08

There is never "in general" in french. We need always an article to define the object. For example : "he likes apples" will give : "Il aime les pommes". We will never say "Il aime pommes".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.