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Which articles (if any) do you need here when speaking generally:

___ leaves fall from ____ trees in autumn.

I know that you don't use the definite article with a plural noun when talking generally but I've seen it written as Leaves fall from the trees in autumn a few times. Perhaps the trees = deciduous trees? Or a native speaker who can't use articles? (joking)

Also, why do actors fall off stages, models fall off catwalks, books fall off tables, pictures fall off walls but leaves fall from trees? I've seen "leaves fall off trees" as well but that was less common than from trees? Why?

Finally, I've read that you can say "A picture fell from the wall" but that it is too learned. Is the usage of "from" instead of "off" in the above examples very unnatural for native speakers?

Thanks in advance, as always.

P.S. I've just checked my computer dictionary (WordWeb) and it defines autumn as "The season when the leaves fall from the trees". Why on Earth?! Emotion: surpriseEmotion: big smile
The leaves to contrast them with the leaves/needles of indeciduous trees? The trees to contrast deciduous trees with their indeciduous counterparts?
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Hi,

As you probably know, articles are hard to learn and hard to teach. They are often used or not used idiomatically. Having said that, here are a few brief comments.

Which articles (if any) do you need here when speaking generally:

___ leaves fall from ____ trees in autumn.

I know that you don't use the definite article with a plural noun when talking generally but I've seen it written as Leaves fall from the trees in autumn a few times. Perhaps the trees = deciduous trees? No, I think that if you only meant some trees, you'd say 'some', or you might even omit the article. Or a native speaker who can't use articles? (joking)


Most naturally, I'd say 'The leaves fall from the trees in Autumn'. Omitting both articles sounds like you are stating a general principle that you don't expect people to already know.

Also, why do actors fall off stages, models fall off catwalks, books fall off tables, pictures fall off walls but leaves fall from trees? I've seen "leaves fall off trees" as well but that was less common than from trees? Why? My reaction is to say that the leaves are attached to the trees, but the actors are not attached to the stage. Or if you like, the leaves are part of the tree, the actors are not part of the stage.

Finally, I've read that you can say "A picture fell from the wall" but that it is too learned. Is the usage of "from" instead of "off" in the above examples very unnatural for native speakers? I wouldn't go that far, but 'off' is certainly much more common.

Thanks in advance, as always.

P.S. I've just checked my computer dictionary (WordWeb) and it defines autumn as "The season when the leaves fall from the trees". Why on Earth?! As I said, this version seems to acknowledges a bit more that the reader is already familiar with this idea.
The leaves to contrast them with the leaves/needles of indeciduous trees? The trees to contrast deciduous trees with their indeciduous counterparts


Best wishes, Clive
CliveAlso, why do actors fall off stages, models fall off catwalks, books fall off tables, pictures fall off walls but leaves fall from trees? I've seen "leaves fall off trees" as well but that was less common than from trees? Why? My reaction is to say that the leaves are attached to the trees, but the actors are not attached to the stage. Or if you like, the leaves are part of the tree, the actors are not part of the stage.

Finally, I've read that you can say "A picture fell from the wall" but that it is too learned. Is the usage of "from" instead of "off" in the above examples very unnatural for native speakers? I wouldn't go that far, but 'off' is certainly much more common.

Thanks for the answer. It seems logical. I've been thinking about the "fall from trees" vs. "fall off stages" and your explanation makes sense to me:

A tree has leaves ---> leaves fall from that tree
A kid has a lollipop. ---> you take the lollipop from that kid (off would be rude here)
But you can't say that a stage has actors. Actors are on the stage. --> ...and they fall off the stage (from would be uncommon/overlearned here)

Does the kid with a lollipop example fit into your explanation?
Moreover, stages, catwalks, tables and walls are all surfaces. Trees and kids are not. Branches with leaves are more similar to hands holding something than they're similar to a surface with something on it. Well, I may have got carried away - maybe I'm trying to be way too imaginative here. Emotion: smile

P.S. And you're right: learning and teaching articles ishard. Emotion: wink
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Clive
Most naturally, I'd say 'The leaves fall from the trees in Autumn'. Omitting both articles sounds like you are stating a general principle that you don't expect people to already know.

I've just checked my computer dictionary (WordWeb) and it defines autumn as "The season when the leaves fall from the trees". Why on Earth?! As I said, this version seems to acknowledge a bit more that the reader is already familiar with this idea.


This explanation is new to me, and it can successfully solve some puzzles.[Y]Emotion: big smile
Maple
CliveMost naturally, I'd say 'The leaves fall from the trees in Autumn'. Omitting both articles sounds like you are stating a general principle that you don't expect people to already know.

I've just checked my computer dictionary (WordWeb) and it defines autumn as "The season when the leaves fall from the trees". Why on Earth?! As I said, this version seems to acknowledge a bit more that the reader is already familiar with this idea.

This explanation is new to me, and it can successfully solve some puzzles.[Y]Emotion: big smile
Well, I might introduce a new "puzzle", then:

Cats like milk.
Soldiers can die young.


These are general principles and although we do not use any articles here, we really can't say we don't expect people to already know, can we?

Still, I would like some comments on my observations about prepositions from my second post in this thread. Emotion: smile
This is my take:

"cats like milk" emphasizes it's a general principle. Maybe it's an idiom, so one couldn't add "the" even it is well known.

I wrote "it can successfully solve some puzzles" because we do tend to omit "the" in a lot of occasions where the natives think it is necessary. That pointed out one of the differences between our logic.

And after all, "expect people to know/unknow" is only one angle to interprete that. When you change your angle, well, the results can be uncertain.Emotion: rolleyes
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Maplewe do tend to omit "the" in a lot of occasions where the natives think it is necessary. That pointed out one of the differences between our logic.
...and we often don't omit the definite article where (the) natives omit it.

P.S. Off-topic: Fortunatelly, my mother tongue doesn't have articles. Unfortunatelly, my mother tongue has 14 patterns for declension of nouns, nouns have 7 cases. 14 x 7 x 2 (2 stands for singular and plural) = you have to learn 196 forms/endings. But hey, wait a minute... I'm a native speaker of that "weird" language so I use them all without even thinking! Just trying to illustrate how naturally and easilynative speakers of English work with articles. Emotion: big smile
Try to or watch others trying to summarize logic from that seemingly natural-and–easy way of speaking. This is the aim we’re lingering here. So far you have done an excellent job: to impel the grammar problems to the edge of intelligence tests. :[