Indefinite and Partitive Articles Reduced to De

De vs du, de la, des

Articles that reduce to de
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With partitive and indefinite articles, the de vs du, de la, des choice has to do mainly with whether the statement is affirmative or negative and whether there’s an adjective in front of the noun.

1. The partitive article indicates an unknown quantity of something, usually food or drink.

Par exemple…

Je veux du vin.   I want some wine.
Il a mangé de la salade.   He ate some salad.

2. The plural partitive article des refers to something that is uncountable but plural in French.

Par exemple…

J’achète des asperges.   I’m buying some asparagus.
Il a reçu des renseignements.   He got some information.

3. The plural indefinite article des refers to more than one countable thing in an indefinite sense.

Par exemple…

Tu as des idées fascinantes.   You have some fascinating ideas.
Il y a des chaussures sur la table.   There are (some) shoes on the table.

4. When the plural indefinite or partitive article is used in front of an adjective, des is reduced to de.

Par exemple…

J’ai des amis.
J’ai de jeunes amis.
  I have some friends.
I have some young friends.
J’ai mangé des épinards.
J’ai mangé de bons épinards.
  I ate some spinach.
I ate some good spinach.

 Note that this is not the case when the article is singular:

Par exemple…

J’ai un jeune ami.   I have a young friend.
J’ai mangé de la bonne sauce des épinards.   I ate some good spinach sauce.

5. In a negative construction, the partitive and indefinite articles (singular and plural) usually change to de, meaning "(not) any":

Par exemple…

Je ne veux pas de pain.   I don’t want any bread.
Tu n’as pas d’idées.   You don’t have any ideas.

See Negative de for more details and examples.

 More about de vs du, de la, des

Partitive and indefinite articles
Quantities, adjectives, and prepositional phrases
Descriptive de vs possessive de
Verbs and expressions with de
Quiz on de vs du, de la, des

 Related lessons

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De vs du, de la, des

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