French partitive articles

In this lesson, I will give you examples in French and in English that will help you to avoid making mistakes with the French partitive articles!

Partitive articles are a grammatical concept that is difficult for learners to assimilate.

There is often confusion between the four partitive articles in the French language.

Fortunately, it is easy to avoid mistakes when you know this French grammar rule.

In this lesson, I will give you examples in French and in English that will help you to avoid making the mistake!

Partitive articles: explanations

There are four partitive articles in the French language: DU, DE LA, DE L’ and DES.

>> These articles are used in sentences to designate elements that cannot be counted.

Example: il boit DE L’eau, il mange DES rillettes, il consomme DU lait, elle achète DE LA semoule. In English language, there is no article > he drinks water, he eats rillettes, he drinks milk, she buys semolina.

These words represent a certain quantity, but it is not possible to count them.

Partitive articles are therefore used before uncountable words.

>> They are also used before material.

Example: tu vois DES nuages, il s’assoit sur DE L’herbe, il marche sur DU sable. In English language, there is no article > you see clouds, he sits on grass, he walks on sand.

>> They can also be used in front of words that designate qualities and defects.

Example: you have courage, he feels kindness, she has fears, he has boldness.

How to use Partitive articles?

There is a simple rule for using partitive articles correctly.

You should use FROM, TO, FROM and FROM according to the grammatical category of the word that follows the article.

Partitive articles before a masculine singular word

In front of a masculine singular word that begins with a consonant, the most commonly used partitive article is DU.

Example: elle a DU sable dans ses chaussures, elle boit DU café le matin, elle a DU courage. Translation : she has sand in her shoes, she drinks coffee in the morning, she has courage.

In front of a masculine singular word that starts with a vowel, the most commonly used Partitive article is DE L’.

Example: il mange DE L’emmental, elle ressent DE L’amour, tu as DE L’orgueil. Translation > he eats Emmental cheese, she feels love, you have pride.

Partitive articles before a word in the feminine singular

In front of a feminine singular word that begins with a consonant, the most commonly used partitive article is DE LA .

Example: elle aime manger DE LA confiture, il aime le bruit DE LA nature, elle utilise DE LA levure pour ses gâteaux. Translation > she likes to eat jam, he likes the sound of nature, she uses yeast for her cakes.

Partitive articles before a plural word

In front of a plural word, whether masculine or feminine, the Partitive article used is DES.

Example: elle aime manger DES céréales au petit déjeuner, j’aimerais manger DES haricots verts, je veux faire DES biscuits. Translation > she likes to eat cereals at breakfast, I would like to eat green beans, I want to make biscuits.

Be careful not to forget the -S at the end of plural nouns!

Be careful: DU / DE LA / DE can be prepositions or FROM an indefinite article. If DU / DE LA / DE L’ / DES do not express a quantity of something then they are not Partitive articles!

Exercise – Complete in comments with the correct partitive article : DU, DE L’, DE LA, DES.

1 – Le matin, je prends ___ pain avec ___ beurre et ____ confiture.
2 – Tu prends ___ sucre avec ton café ?
3 – Ce midi à la cantine, nous mangeons _____ lasagnes avec ____ légumes.
4 – En hiver, le soir nous prenons ____ soupe et ____ croûtons.
5 – Pour faire des crêpes, il faut ____ farine, ____ lait, ____ œufs, ____ huile.
6 – La professeure de français a _____ patience avec les enfants.
7 – Il faut ____ courage dans la vie.
8 – Nous avons _____ travail à faire.
9 – Vous devez boire _____ eau.
10 – Tu veux _____ jus d’orange ?

Thank you for reading my article! I hope you enjoyed discovering the partitive article. Don’t hesitate to ask your questions on the Your online French teacher blog! You want to take French classes or French conversation classes?  Contact me for a quote or for the program of individual or group French classes.

Sincerely yours,

Élodie – Your online French teacher

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