Partitive articles in French

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 in French are a concept in grammar, difficult for learners to perfect. 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 blog, I will give you examples in French (click here for the French version) and in English that will help you to avoid making mistakes !

Partitive articles: a review

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

>> These articles are used in sentences to designate things 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 natural elements.

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 shortcomings.

Example: tu as DU courage, il ressent DE LA gentillesse, elle a DES peurs, il a DE l’audace.

How to use Partitive articles in French?

There is a simple rule for using partitive articles correctly.

You should use DU, DE LA, DE L’ and DES 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 partitive article used 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 Partitive article used 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 feminine singular word

In front of a feminine singular word that begins with a consonant, the partitive article used 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!

Remember: DU / DE LA / DE can be prepositions or DES 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 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 learning the partitive articles in French.

Don’t hesitate to ask your questions on the Your Online French Teacher blog!

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Sincerely yours,

Élodie – Your Online French Teacher

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