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French Partitive Articles

Articles partitifs

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The partitive articles in French correspond to "some" or "any" in English. There are four forms of the French partitive article:
  1. du      masculine singular
  2. de la   feminine singular
  3. de l'    m or f in front of a vowel or h muet
  4. des     m or f plural
The form of the partitive article to use depends on three things: the noun's number, gender, and first letter:
  • If the noun is plural, use des
  • If it's singular starting with a vowel or h muet, use de l'
  • If it's a singular noun and starts with a consonant or h aspiré, use du for a masculine noun and de la for a feminine noun

Meaning and usage of the French partitive article

The partitive article indicates an unknown quantity of something, usually food or drink. It is often omitted in English.

   Avez-vous bu du thé ?
   Did you drink some tea?

   J'ai mangé de la salade hier.
   I ate salad yesterday.

   Nous allons prendre de la glace.
   We're going to have some ice cream.

After adverbs of quantity, use de instead of the partitive article.

   Il y a beaucoup de thé.
   There is a lot of tea.

   J'ai moins de glace que Thierry.
   I have less ice cream than Thierry.

In a negative construction, the partitive article changes to de, meaning "(not) any":

   J'ai mangé de la soupe. > Je n'ai pas mangé de soupe.
   I ate some soup. > I didn't eat any soup.

Learn more: De vs du, de la, des


Introduction to French articles
French definite articles
French indefinite articles
French partitive articles
Choosing a French article
Quiz on French articles
Related Video
French Dialogues: Eating Out
French Dialogues: Directions
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