Partitive article in French - du, de la, de l', des
How to use the partitive article in French
In English we use the words some or any with nouns that cannot be counted, such as milk, coffee and tea. In French the partitve is used with these nouns and the partitive article cannot be omitted. The partitive is expressed by de plus the definite article.
Forms of the partitive article
|Singular||du/ de l'||de la/ de l'||
du sucre (sugar)
de la farine (flour)
de l'eau (water)
|des||des||des crêpes (crêpes)|
Please note that de + le and de la change to de l' when they are used in front of a word starting with a vowel, most words starting with h, and the French word y.
Using the partitive article de
There are three exceptional cases, in which only the partitive article de is used:
Case 1: Indication of quantity
If you're talking about measurements be aware that de has to be used, for example after beaucoup (much). trop (too much). peu (little), assez (enough).
|partitive de||Translation||Examples with the partitive de|
|assez de||enough||assez d' expérience (enough experience)|
|beaucoup de||a lot of||beaucoup de farine (a lot of flour)|
|un group de||a group of||un groupe de danseurs (a group of dancers)|
|un kilo de||a kilogram||un kilo de sucre (a kilogram sugar)|
|peu de||little||peu de nouilles (little luck)|
|plein de||a lot||plein de nouilles (a lot of luck)|
|trop de||too much||trop d'huile (too much oil)|
Please note that after bien (good), la plupart (the most) and la moitié (the half) you have to use the partitive article NOT the partitive de.
|Partitive article||Translation||Examples with partitive articles|
|bien des||quite a lot||Avoir bien des difficultés. (Having quite a lot of difficulties.)|
|la moitié des||the half||la moitié des gens (half of the people)|
Case 2: After the negation
Bear in mind that you must not place partitive articles after negations, but the partitive de.
Aujourd'hui, j'achète de la viande. (Today I buy meat.)
Demain, je n'achèterai pas de viande. (Tommorow, I'm not going to buy meat.)
Vous prenez encore du café? (Do you still take coffee?)
Non, merci, je ne prends plus de café. (No thank you,I don't take any coffee anymore)
Note that after être the partitive article has to be placed.
|partitive de||Translation||Examples with partitive de + être|
|ne pas du||no||Ce n'est pas du cidre. (That's no cidre)|
|ne pas du||no||Ce que tu bois, ce n'est pas du café. (What you drink is no coffee.)|
Case 3: In front of a adjective + noun in the plural
Instead of using the partitive article in front of an adjective or a noun in the plural, you have to stick to using the partitive de.
- Acheter de jolies fleurs. (Buying nice flowers.)
- Lire de passionnants livres. (Read passionate books.)
Note that neither partitive articles nor the partitive de are used after sans:
- C'est sans importance. (That's not important.)
- Une maison sans confort. (A house without comfort.)
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