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Descriptive vs Possessive de

De vs Du, De la, Des

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Sometimes de vs du, de la, des is simply a matter of descriptive nouns vs possessed nouns.

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

   le livre de l'étudiant / le livre des étudiants
   the student's / students' book (belongs to the student / students)

   le panier du chien
   the dog's basket (belongs to the dog)

   *Of course, a proper noun would not need a definite article:

   le livre de Michel
   Michel's book

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

   le livre d'étudiant
   student book (book for or about students)

   le panier de chien
   dog basket (basket for a dog)


3. If the descriptive noun is modified in order to distinguish a certain group of the given noun, use de + definite article. Note that these can then appear either descriptive or possessive. This construction is often used in advertising.

   le livre de l'étudiant étranger
   the foreign student book (book for foreign students)
    or
   the foreign student's book (this book belongs to the student from Botswana)

   le panier du chien délicat
   the discriminating dog's basket
    > this is the basket for discriminating dogs
     or
    > there are two dogs, and this basket belongs to the discriminating one


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