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    Bonjour, in desperate need of help with indefinite and definite articles in French. Quite pathetic that at A-level I don't know the basics but for example, I don't understand how to use them in a sentence and when I do I use un instead of de?! Anyone who does French that clear this up for me?
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    Don't fret, it's actually quite complicated and people studying French at university level still make mistakes so there's no need to feel embarrassed.
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    (Original post by _Charlotte15)
    Bonjour, in desperate need of help with indefinite and definite articles in French. Quite pathetic that at A-level I don't know the basics but for example, I don't understand how to use them in a sentence and when I do I use un instead of de?! Anyone who does French that clear this up for me?
    The problem is that there are three, not two, types of article in French.

    1. Definite articles: le, la, les
    2. Indefinite articles: un, une, des
    3. Partitive articles, du, de la, des

    In a nutshell:

    Use the definite articles whenever you have "the" in English. Also use them when you are referring to a whole category or a concept, or if you are making a generalisation. Eg: J'aime les chiens.

    Use the indefinite articles when, in English, you use "a" or "an". Eg: J'ai un chien. Because the plural of un/une is des, this sentence becomes J'ai des chiens chez moi if you are talking about more than one dog.

    First conclusion: if you need to choose between les or des, make your sentence singular in your head - it will become clearer. For example, should you say: Les chiens sont des (or les?) animaux fidèles? In the singular, it's a lot easier: Le chien est un animal fidèle - so you clearly need des for the plural.

    A slight complication is that des becomes de immediately in front of a plural adjective. So while you would say: J'ai vu des voitures énormes (the adjective enormes comes after the noun, so you keep des), you need to say J'ai vu de belles voitures (the adjective belles comes before the noun and so stands immediately after what should be des).

    Use partitive articles when you are speaking about quantities - they imply "part of a greater quantity". So: Je voudrais du café = I'd like some coffee; but: Je voudrais un café = I'd like a coffee and Je voudrais le café = I'd like the coffee.

    The problem is that du/de la/des is also the contraction of the preposition de with the definite article. In this case, the definite article loses its "generalisation" meaning. It can mean the very specific the: if you are making a generalisation, you need to use de on its own and drop the definite article altogether. So: J'ai besoin d'argent = I need money; J'ai besoin de l'argent que je t'ai prêté hier = I need the money that I lent you yesterday. After de, the definite article retains its meaning for a whole category, which is why we say Les droits de l'Homme for "human rights" - because all human beings are concerned.

    All this is explained in greater detail, giving many examples and exercises to practise in Essential French Grammar for the Sixth Form and Beyond, which I seriously recommend that you acquire. http://www.amazon.co.uk/French-Gramm.../dp/095706120X.

    If you'd like any clarification on this then do re-post - but make sure that you quote a part of my message or else I may well miss it!
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    (Original post by pseudonymegg)
    Don't fret, it's actually quite complicated and people studying French at university level still make mistakes so there's no need to feel embarrassed.
    No need to feel embarrassed, indeed. It should never be embarrassing to admit you don't know something!

    However, this is important, basic stuff, even though it is complicated. And it is certainly not beyond the grasp of an A-level student, even if many university students haven't been taught it properly!
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    (Original post by Anna Schoon)
    Use partitive articles when you are speaking about quantities - they imply "part of a greater quantity". So: Je voudrais du café = I'd like some coffee; but: Je voudrais un café = I'd like a coffee and Je voudrais le café = I'd like the coffee.
    This is a very nice overview (maybe you should write a grammar book) but you haven't mentioned something that confuses me occasionally: when is a partitive article replaced with "de" in negated sentences? e.g. we have, say:

    "je n'ai pas d'argent"

    but:

    "ce n'est pas du luxe"

    How are those two cases distinguished?
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    (Original post by atsruser)
    This is a very nice overview (maybe you should write a grammar book) but you haven't mentioned something that confuses me occasionally: when is a partitive article replaced with "de" in negated sentences? e.g. we have, say:

    "je n'ai pas d'argent"

    but:

    "ce n'est pas du luxe"

    How are those two cases distinguished?
    In Je n'ai pas de sel, the de used after the negative here is an expression of quantity meaning "not any". This is why you would say: Je n'aime pas le sel - because in this sentence you are referring to the concept of salt.

    In Ce n'est pas du luxe, you simply need the normal partitive article because you're not trying to say "not any". Something is, or isn't, luxury.
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    (Original post by Anna Schoon)
    The problem is that there are three, not two, types of article in French.

    1. Definite articles: le, la, les
    2. Indefinite articles: un, une, des
    3. Partitive articles, du, de la, des

    In a nutshell:

    Use the definite articles whenever you have "the" in English. Also use them when you are referring to a whole category or a concept, or if you are making a generalisation. Eg: J'aime les chiens.

    Use the indefinite articles when, in English, you use "a" or "an". Eg: J'ai un chien. Because the plural of un/une is des, this sentence becomes J'ai des chiens chez moi if you are talking about more than one dog.

    First conclusion: if you need to choose between les or des, make your sentence singular in your head - it will become clearer. For example, should you say: Les chiens sont des (or les?) animaux fidèles? In the singular, it's a lot easier: Le chien est un animal fidèle - so you clearly need des for the plural.

    A slight complication is that des becomes de immediately in front of a plural adjective. So while you would say: J'ai vu des voitures énormes (the adjective enormes comes after the noun, so you keep des), you need to say J'ai vu de belles voitures (the adjective belles comes before the noun and so stands immediately after what should be des).

    Use partitive articles when you are speaking about quantities - they imply "part of a greater quantity". So: Je voudrais du café = I'd like some coffee; but: Je voudrais un café = I'd like a coffee and Je voudrais le café = I'd like the coffee.

    The problem is that du/de la/des is also the contraction of the preposition de with the definite article. In this case, the definite article loses its "generalisation" meaning. It can mean the very specific the: if you are making a generalisation, you need to use de on its own and drop the definite article altogether. So: J'ai besoin d'argent = I need money; J'ai besoin de l'argent que je t'ai prêté hier = I need the money that I lent you yesterday. After de, the definite article retains its meaning for a whole category, which is why we say Les droits de l'Homme for "human rights" - because all human beings are concerned.

    All this is explained in greater detail, giving many examples and exercises to practise in Essential French Grammar for the Sixth Form and Beyond, which I seriously recommend that you acquire. http://www.amazon.co.uk/French-Gramm.../dp/095706120X.

    If you'd like any clarification on this then do re-post - but make sure that you quote a part of my message or else I may well miss it!
    THANK YOU!!!!!!! Repped
 
 
 
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