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De vs Du, De la, Des

Lesson on French prepositions and articles


The preposition de tends to be very difficult for French students, even at advanced levels. Trying to figure out whether to use de, du, de la, or des can be a real challenge! This lesson explains when to use the preposition de all by itself and when to use the indefinite article, partitive article, or de + definite article (which looks like the partitive - but isn't. Ugh!)

There are four main types of constructions in which the de vs du, de la, des confusion may arise. Click these links for a detailed lesson about each construction, with numerous examples:
  1. Partitive and indefinite articles
    Je veux du lait. vs Je ne veux pas de lait.
  2. Adverbs of quantity, adjectives, containers, and prepositional phrases
    J'ai écrit beaucoup de livres. vs Beaucoup des livres que j'ai écrits...
  3. Descriptive vs possessive de
    le livre d'étudiant vs le livre de l'étudiant
  4. Verbs and expressions followed by de
    J'ai besoin d'argent. vs J'ai besoin de l'argent que tu m'as promis.

Test on de vs du, de la, des
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