By Nick Potter
The definite article, “the”, is used a lot more in Spanish (la, el, las, los) than it is in English. When proofreading something in English written by a Spanish speaker, I often have to delete quite a few extra “the”. However, in just one particular case, the reverse happens. “The” is often missing and needs to be added.
Which ONE of the following is correct?
|It is the only company which has not been fined by the Spanish authority. Fines against the rest of companies total around €60 million|
|Taking advantage of the synergies with the rest of companies of the group|
|However, this proposal do not bind the rest of secured creditors who could enforce their guarantees|
|There is no special regime for fishing workers linked to occupational injuries different than that applicable for the rest of employees|
|Additionally, the rest of directors of the Company may be liable for the payments made|
|UK benefit reform demands appeal to rest of EU|
|We are also coordinating a worldwide strategy in the rest of jurisdictions|
|We have considered the points you mention and also the rest of circumstances of this case|
- Before you read the answer, remember:
Most of the time, the mistake that Spanish and other Romance language speakers make with the definite article “the” is to use it when it is unnecessary or incorrect. This is because in English we use “the” so much less than the definite articles in those languages.
You may remember that la Directiva 2004/39/CE is Directive 2004/39/EC, not “the” Directive 2004/39/EC.
And that we use “the” to talk about things in general and not specific things. Las aerolíneas are airlines if we’re talking about airlines in general, but the airlines if we’re talking about certain airlines in particular.
There is one common situation, however, where the reverse mistake is made – “the” is missing.
It happens when translating a particular Spanish construction: el resto de + sustantivo plural.
In this construction, plurals (or names such as the USA, the UK, the OECD etc.) have no definite article in front of them e.g. el resto de personas, el resto de coches, el resto de EEUU.
No las or los.
Consider this Spanish newspaper headline:
- Finlandia se suma el resto de países nórdicos y endurece su política de asilo
Possible translations might be:
- Finland joins the other Nordic Countries in tightening asylum policy
- Finland joins the rest of the Nordic Countries in tightening asylum policy
El resto de here can be translated in two ways: the adjective other (or just other), and the rest of.
For obvious reasons, most people automatically translate it more literally as the rest of – and that’s when they may go wrong.
If we’re comparing Spain with el resto de países de la UE we’re comparing it with the other countries in the EU, the rest of the countries in the EU or just the rest of the EU.
If we’re comparing a particular company with el resto de empresas del sector, we’re comparing it with the other companies in the sector, the rest of the companies in the sector or just the rest of the sector.
Notice that after “rest of” we use the definite article with the noun, whether it’s “the rest of the countries” or “the rest of the sector”.
In most other sentences you are not likely to forget “the” because in Spanish you would use la, el, las or los. As we’ve seen, you are more likely to use the definite article when it is not needed or not correct, than to forget it.
But in the particular case of the Spanish construction el resto de + sustantivo plural, there is no definite article afterel resto de.
If you translate el resto de as “the other” or “other”, then no problem.
But if you translate it as “the rest of” you need to remember to add the.
A-E are all wrong because the authors fell into the el resto de trap. They automatically translated it as the rest of, forgetting to add the definite article, the, before the plural noun that followed.
Remember, el resto de often translates better as “other” (in general) or “the other” (in particular).
|It is the only company which has not been fined by the Spanish authority. Fines against the rest ofthe companies total around €60 million|
It is the only company which has not been fined by the Spanish authority. Fines against the othercompanies total around €60 million
|Taking advantage of the synergies with the other companies in the group|
|However, this proposal does not bind the rest of the secured creditors, who could enforce their guarantees|
However, this proposal does not bind the other secured creditors, who could enforce their guarantees
|There is no special regime for fishing workers linked to occupational injuries different than that applicable for the rest of the employees|
There is no special regime for fishing workers linked to occupational injuries different than that applicable for other employees
|The rest of the directors of the Company may also be liable for the payments made|
The other directors of the Company may also be liable for the payments made
In F, “the rest of” is followed by… no definite article! And yet it is the correct answer. This is because it is a newspaper headline. Unlike Spanish, English has its own set of grammar rules for headlines, headings and titles. Words like prepositions and articles, such as “the”, can be omitted because they are implied. The language is more concise, has more impact, and takes up less space.
|UK benefit reform demands appeal to rest of EU ?|
G and H are final further examples of a missing “the”. Again, el resto de would probably translate better as the other.
|We are also coordinating a worldwide strategy in the rest of the jurisdictions|
We are also coordinating a worldwide strategy in the other jurisdictions
|We have considered the points you mention and also the other circumstances in this case|
False friend of the week: coherent
False friends are words or expressions that have a similar form to one in a person’s native language, but a different meaning. When you make changes to a document you are working on, is it to be more coherent, more consistent, or both?
In which of the following is coherent used correctly?
Is Putin the only world leader with a coherent Middle East strategy?
This Annex should be reviewed so that is coherent with the model established for the Binding Offer
We have introduced some other changes in the wording with the aim to be coherent with the terminology used in his contract
In our view, this is important because it’s absolutely coherent with our position in the other case
The new hire is coherent with the plan to expand the practice
The answer is A. Something that is coherent is something that makes sense. It is logical, well-thought-out, clear and… consistent. Consistency is part of the meaning of coherent, but not the same by itself.
We use coherent to describe arguments, theories, or policies. Or something forming a unified whole. A couple of examples:
- Majority of firms lack a coherent approach to employee engagement
- The debate over whether international criminal procedure is a coherent body of international law
One meaning of coherente in Spanish is precisely this: lógico, consecuente (I’m ignoring the Real Academia Española’s enormously helpful definition of “Que tiene coherencia”).
But coherente is also often used to mean acorde, en harmonía. And this is where it means consistent, in line with or in keeping with. Not coherent.
Is Putin the only world leader with a coherent Middle East strategy? ?
|This Annex should be reviewed so that is consistent with the model established for the Binding Offer|
We have introduced some other changes in the wording with the aim to be consistent with the terminology used in his contract
In our view, this is important because it’s absolutely in line with our position in the other case
The new hire is in keeping with the plan to expand the practice
You might like to know that Spanish speakers are far from alone in mistaking coherent for consistent. It has become part of the official “English” of the European Union, together with quite a few other false friends, as admitted in a very good – and, I might say, coherent – publication by its Translation Directorate in 2013 called “Misused English in EU publications”. On page 22 they explain:
“Coherent means ‘logical; consistent and orderly’ or ‘capable of logical and orderly thought’. In the former meaning it is generally an internal characteristic of an argument or a publication, for example, and in the latter meaning, it is an internal characteristic of a person (e.g. ‘he is totally incoherent, he must have been drinking’). In the EU, on the other hand, it is frequently used with the meaning of ‘in agreement with’ or ‘accordant with’ (something else).”