Lesson 9.5 The use of articles
April 6, 2020
April 14, 2020
Thank you for your question!
Determining when and why the definite article ("the") needs to be included in Spanish can sometimes be a bit tough for English speakers, since Spanish and English don't always work the same way when it comes to articles. Let's look at some general concepts of how articles work first, and then try applying them to this particular sentence.
Just like in English, articles are often used in Spanish to make things more specific. For example, let's compare the sentences Quiero un pedazo de pan "(I) want a piece of bread" and Quiero un pedazo del pan "(I) want a piece of the bread." In the first sentence, we're talking about bread in general: the speaker wants a piece of any bread at all. With the de, the word pan is just being used to describe pedazo: What do I want a piece of? I want a piece of bread. In the second sentence, the article shows that we're talking about a specific bread - essentially saying "I want a piece of the bread (that we're talking about/that is right here."
Unlike in English, though, articles are also often used in Spanish when talking about something as a full concept, or as a whole. For example, you include the article and say el poder or la lealtad when you're talking about the concepts of "power" or "loyalty."
So, ultimately, if you say something like La música es poderosa, you could be speaking about specific music and mean "The music (that we're talking about/listening to right now) is powerful," or you could be speaking of the concept of music and mean "Music (as a general concept) is powerful."
Now, taking what we know, let's look at the sentence Ellos fueron a un concierto de la música rock. The speaker could have said un concierto de música rock without an article, which would simply be talking about música rock in general and using it to describe the concierto: What kind of concert is it? It's a rock music concert. However, they didn't; they included the article la. This emphasizes that we're talking about a particular genre of music as a whole: rock music. It's specifically a concert of rock music (as a general concept).
So ultimately, the answer is that the la doesn't make that much of a difference to the sentence here! It just gives it a slightly different emphasis.
I hope that this was helpful! Do let me know if you still have any questions.
April 27, 2020
I have read many passages on articles and I find this example to be a doubtful use of the article.
Perhaps this is wrong for me to bring to the front here but I will: another major problem I find as a learner is the English interpretation of the Spanish. Yes I understand some things are idiomatic but in the dialog especially in 9.6 I find the English interpretation is very arbitrary, not really consistent with the Spanish. This becomes very confusing or non-productive for the learner. If you would like for me to give you examples I'll be happy to. There are many.
April 29, 2020
For something like this, where including the article doesn't really change the meaning of the sentence, it's likely going to come down to the personal preference of the speaker - taking into account both their preferred style of speaking in general and what emphasis they have in mind when they say the sentence. So one individual might choose to use the article and another might not, depending on the context. That being said, for a lot of people, the shortest version is the easiest, so there are likely many examples of similar situations where people wouldn't use the article. You could certainly leave it out in this sentence and still sound perfectly correct.
As for the translations not being very close to the Spanish, we're actually undertaking a review of our Spanish courses at the moment, and this is one of the issues we are looking at closely. We're working on changing translations to make them closer to the Spanish and adding literal translations where further clarity seems necessary. We haven't yet progressed to Lesson 9.6, but I will make a note for our Spanish team to keep an eye out for the translations in that lesson in particular.
Thank you very much for your feedback! I hope that this has been helpful.