Quantities, Adjectives, and Prepositional Phrases with De

Trop de sel
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De vs du, de la, des

For quantities, adjectives, and prepositional phrases, the question of de vs du, de la, des depends on the noun that follows – whether it is unspecific or specific.

Unspecific nouns

When the noun is unspecific, de stands alone after adjectives and prepositional phrases as well as after most adverbs of quantity and expressions of quantity. This is by far the more common construction.

Par example…

N’ajoute pas trop de sel. Don’t add too much salt.
Il a beaucoup de questions. He has a lot of questions.
Peu d’Ă©tudiants sont ici. Few students are here.
J’ai mangĂ© moins de soupe que Francine. I ate less soup than Francine.
Je veux un verre de vin. I want a glass of wine.
La salle est pleine de livres. The room is full of books. (books in general)
Les tables sont couvertes de tartes. The tables are covered in pies. (a bunch of pies)
J’ai achetĂ© du jus au lieu de vin. I bought juice instead of wine.
J’aimerais te parler au sujet d’Ă©cologie. I’d like to talk to you about ecology.

Specific nouns

However, if the noun after de refers to specific people or things de must be used with the definite article.

Par example…

N’ajoute pas trop du sel que j’ai achetĂ© en France. Don’t add too much of the salt I bought in France.
(that specific salt)
Beaucoup des questions sont intĂ©ressantes. A lot of the questions are interesting.
(specific or previously mentioned questions)
Peu des Ă©tudiants de Lisette sont ici. Few of Lisette’s students are here.
(not students in general, but specifically Lisette’s students)
Le repas est dĂ©licieux, mais j’ai mangĂ© moins de la soupe que lui. The meal is delicious, but I ate less of the soup than he did.
(soup from this previously mentioned meal)
Je veux un verre du vin que tu as achetĂ©. I want a glass of the wine that you bought.
(specifically what you bought)
La salle est pleine des livres d’Éric. The room is full of Éric’s books.
(specifically his books)
Les tables sont couvertes des tartes dont je t’ai parlĂ©. The tables are covered in the pies that I told you about.
(specifically those pies)
J’ai achetĂ© du jus au lieu du vin que tu as recommandĂ©. I bought juice instead of the wine you recommended.
(specifically that wine)
J’aimerais te parler au sujet de l’Ă©cologie de paysage. I’d like to talk to you about landscape ecology.
(specifically that aspect)

 Conseil concis

Note that the word "the" is often needed in English when the noun is specific.

 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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