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I want to know if "she likes high school" should be elle aime lycée or elle aime le lycée?

As well as, I'd like to know about "I listen to music". Should that be j’écoute la musique or j’écoute musique?

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    There are no examples in regular, spoken or written language where an abstract noun like music would not take an article. Music is for lovers. La musique, c'est pour les amants.
    – Lambie
    Oct 15, 2021 at 23:26
  • @Lambie There is one example though : titles. "Musique pour les amants". You could argue here musique in this case is not the "abstract noun". But I think it's worth mentioning.
    – XouDo
    Jul 13, 2023 at 8:40
  • @XouDo Musique pour les amants is a title. Titles have their own rules.
    – Lambie
    Jul 14, 2023 at 14:53
  • @Lambie Oui c'est ce que je dis.
    – XouDo
    Jul 18, 2023 at 12:51

2 Answers 2

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French nouns almost always require an article in French so that would be:

Elle aime le lycée.

This sentence is perfectly idiomatic. Le lycée is likely here the high-school she studies in, works at, or just refers to but might also be high-school in general compared to something else.

Note also that j'écoute la musique means "I listen to the music" so to properly translate "I listen to music", you would use:

J'écoute de la musique.

Both "elle aime lycée" and "j'écoute musique" are always ungrammatical in French, a little like would be "I listen music".

Note however that there are some cases, both in spoken and written French, where an abstract noun like musique might not take any article.

e.g.:

Musique, maestro ! Very common expression used to tell an orchestra or a band to start playing.

L’histoire des relations entre musique et littérature est tumultueuse. Fabula, 2011

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I understand in English, the language learner may ask when to use an article, when to use "the", etc. When "the" is used, it answers the question "which one?".

In French, the question is not so much when to use articles, rather when not to use them. As I would be tempted to say always.

However, there are cases where you would not use them. Refer to the use of "article zéro" (Ø) in French to learn more.

Here are examples I found in this thread:

  • Pierre qui roule n'amasse pas mousse. (proverbes)
  • tambour battant, chemin faisant (archaïsmes, locutions figées)
  • Mère décédée. Enterrement demain. (télégrammes)
  • Il viendra mardi. (ce mardi-là )
  • Maison à vendre. Sucre en poudre. (sur pancartes, étiquettes)
  • Venez, jeune homme ! (apostrophe)
  • Hommes, femmes, enfants, tout le monde était là. (énumération)
  • Le métier de prof. Pierre est avocat. Le lion, roi des animaux. (appositions, attributs)
  • Arbre est un nom masculin. (= "Le mot arbre" )
  • avoir faim, demander pardon, donner envie, faire fortune, perdre pied, prendre feu, rendre service, etc. (locutions verbales).
  • avec joie, sans crainte, sur place, etc. (locutions adverbiales)

Some examples: "faire cas" de qqch. Or "j'ai eu vent de ...". "Je vous souhaite bonheur et prospérité". Etc.

As to the use of articles in English, they do map to something in French.

For example:

  • Je mange du fromage** => I eat Ø cheese. (Recall that we don't say de le, instead it becomes du. If the noun is feminin, use de la)
  • Je mange le fromage => I eat the piece of cheese (I don't think you'd say the cheese (?) )
  • Je mange un fromage => I eat a piece of cheese
  • J'écoute de la musique => I'm listening to music
  • J'écoute la musique => I'm listening to the music (you brought me)

But there are cases where it doesn't change:

  • Le chômage est de 16% et continue de croître. => Unemployment is 16% and keeps rising.

So, just tell yourself that there are always articles. The rare cases where you don't use them, you'll learn them as you go. And retain that j'écoute de la musique is I'm listening to music and j'écoute la musique is I'm listening to the music.

edit: By the way, I absolutely don't see what's wrong with saying "elle aime le lycée".

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