Descriptive de vs Possessive de

Le livre d'étudiant vs le livre de l'étudiant
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De vs du, de la, des

Sometimes the choice between de and du, de la, des is simply a question of whether you’re describing a noun or indicating a possessor.

1. To show possession of a noun, use de + definite article:

le livre de l’étudiant
le livre des étudiants
the student’s book
the students’ book
belongs to the student(s)
le panier du chienthe dog’s basketbelongs to the dog

 Unless it’s a proper noun:

le livre de Jean-Luc Jean-Luc’s book
le panier de Bijou Bijou’s basket

or there’s some other determiner such as a demonstrative adjective or possessive adjective:

le livre de cet étudiant this student’s book
le panier de mon chien my dog’s basket

2. To describe a noun, use de + descriptive noun construction:

le livre d’étudiant student bookthe book for or about students
le panier de chien dog basketthe basket for a dog

3. To distinguish one noun among a group, use de + definite article. This is often used in advertising.

le livre de l’étudiant étrangerforeign student book
foreign student’s book
book for foreign students
book that belongs to Felipe
le panier du chien délicatdiscriminating dog’s basketbasket for discriminating dogs
(there are two dogs; this basket is for the discriminating one)

 This can be tricky, because this construction looks like it could be either descriptive or possessive.

 More about de vs du, de la, des

Introduction
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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2 Responses

  1. Malonnie Kinnison 6 June 2017 / 18:56

    Je me demande si vous connaissez un site semblable à celui-ci pour des francophones qui apprennent l’anglais

    C’est un site extraordinaire!