Partitive Articles

Use the partitive article, which expresses that you want part of a whole (some or any), to ask for an indefinite quantity (something that is not being counted). Before a noun, the partitive is generally expressed by de + the definite article. Note that de + le contract to become du and de + les contract to become des, as shown in Table 1 .

TABLE 1 Partitive Articles

Article

Used Before

Example

du masculine singular nouns beginning with a consonant du temps (some time)
de la feminine singular nouns beginning with a consonant de la glace (some ice cream)
de l’ any singular noun beginning with a vowel de l’argent (some money)
des any plural noun des gens (some people)

Note the following about the use of the partitive article:

  • Although the partitive some or any may be omitted in English, it may not be omitted in French and must be repeated before each noun .
    • Il prend des cèrèales et du lait. (He’s having cereal and milk.)
  • In a negative sentence, the partitive some or any is expressed by de or d’ without the article .
    • Je ne mange jamais de fruits. (I never eat any fruits.)
    • Je n’ai pas d’amis. (I don’t have any friends.)
  • Before a singular adjective preceding a singular noun, the partitive is expressed with or without the article.
    • C’est de (du) bon gâteau. (That’s good cake.)
  • Before a plural adjective preceding a plural noun, the partitive is expressed by de alone .
    • Ce sont de bons èlèves. (They are good students.)
  • Certain expressions of quantity are followed by the partitive article de ( d’ before a vowel) .
Nouns Adverbs
un boîte de (a box, can of) assez de (enough)
un bol de (a bowl of) beaucoup de (many, much, a lot of)
une tasse de (a cup of) peu de (few, a little)
un verre de (a glass of) trop de (too many, much)
Donnez-moi une tasse de cafè. Give me a cup of coffee.)
Il a beaucoup d’amis. (He has a lot of friends.)