French Grammar – The Partitive Article

Posted on 29. Apr, 2009 by in Grammar

The partitive article in French is the English equivalent of ‘some’ and ‘any’.  So, it is very often used and thus, very important to learn.  First, let’s talk about the form:

Before a masculine noun – du
Before a feminine noun – de la
Before a masculine or feminine plural noun – des
Before a masculine or feminine singular noun beginning with a vowel or silent h – de l’

And here is how you use them:
Before a concrete or abstract noun to indicate an uncertain quantity or a part of a whole that can not be counted.  In other words, with non-count nouns.  For example:
Je mange toujours du pain avec les repas. (I always eat bread with meals.)
Je vais prendre de la monnaie.  (I’m going to take some money.)
J’ai mangé des carottes.  (I ate some carrots.)
Je bois toujours de l’eau avec les repas.  (I always drink water with meals.) 

Remember, the partitive article is often used with the verb faire (to do): faire du vélo, faire du sport, faire de la guitare, faire des études, faire du théâtre, etc.

Be careful as you may forget to use the article as it is often omitted in English! 

Also, use only de after adverbs of quantity like beaucoup and moins.  For example,
Je bois beaucoup d’eau avec les repas.  (I drink a lot of water with meals.)
Je mange moins de pain les weekends.  (I eat less bread on the weekends.)  

And, use only de in negative sentences.  For example,
Je ne bois pas d’eau.  (I don’t drink water.)
Je ne mange pas de pain avec les repas.  (I don’t eat bread with meals.)
Je ne vais pas prendre de monnaie.  (I’m not going to take any money.)

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6 Responses to “French Grammar – The Partitive Article”

  1. Ryan Geary 29 April 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    I love your blog! These sorts of posts are so helpful. I’m currently studying French and I want to pursue into fluency and study abroad.

    Merci beaucoup!

  2. Chanda 30 April 2009 at 3:26 am #

    I’m glad you enjoy the blog Ryan! If there’s any particular grammar point you’d like me to write about, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks again for reading!

  3. chin 2 May 2009 at 3:16 pm #

    i learned something very useful from your blog. i am currently new in a country that speaks french..i want to learn more to speak fluently if not at least good..my problem is how to pronounce the words. i can understand more when reading but when they are spoken i am lost..hope to learn more from you,,

    merci beaucoup

  4. Chanda 4 May 2009 at 5:47 am #

    I’m so pleased Chin that you find the blog useful and good luck with your learning process! I also hope you have a good experience in the French-speaking country you are now living in!

  5. Brett 8 May 2009 at 1:22 pm #

    Nice post Chanda!
    I’ve created a tool for practicing French verb conjugations. I hope you folks will try it out: verbmate.com

  6. Shenoll 23 January 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    es que qql peux me explique quel est la differenc entre la article partitf et le aricle contracte avec le preposition DE


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