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  5. "I drink milk."

"I drink milk."

Translation:Je bois du lait.

January 15, 2013



I understand what the literal meanings are of le and du, but I can't understand why "I drink milk" is "Je bois du lait", when in a previous exercise, the sentence "We like wine" is "Nous aimons le vin". Does anyone know why there is a difference?


Yes, the verb makes the difference or construction because of the difference of meaning:

Tip: please try to translate what is meant rather than what is written

1)with action verbs, the partitive "du" (de+le) or "de la" are used with uncountable nouns to mean "some, a portion of, an undefined quantity of":

  • je mange du pain; tu bois de la bière; il respire de l'air; elle prend du temps...

2)with appreciation verbs, the partitive is not used, neither in singular, nor in plural and with any kind of objects, countable or not. Appreciation verbs naturally introduce generalities with definite article le, la, les

  • j'aime le vin; tu préfères la bière; il déteste les roses; elle apprécie le soleil...


If one was saying it in a general sense, like, "do you drink milk?- yes, I drink milk" wouldn't that be expressed as je bois le lait? or would it still be je bois du lait in that case?


Please read again what I wrote above about action verbs vs appreciation verbs.


I don't think what you wrote above answers his question!

'Du lait', as you said, means 'some' milk. But if one were to ask more generally 'do you drink milk?' would 'le lait' not be correct?

I think its fair to ask whether or not this is an exception to the rule you outlined above.


arun, no sitesurf is right. do you drink milk means some/du milk, not le lait. If I ask you did you drink the milk that I gave to you, it would be le lait, because it's a specific milk


I get it, I think.

J'aime le lait.

Je bois du lait.

J'aime boire le lait (d'habitude).


sean- j'aime boire DU lait. you can say j'aime boire le lait très froid/ I like to drink milk when it's very cold.


Fantastic, thank you! Not sure why this rule is popping up before it's been explained anywhere. Getting flashbacks to freshman french with a teacher who could never remember what she had taught us...


This is explained in the Tips and Notes of the Food lesson. Can't you access them?


It is explained in the "Breakfast" lesson (not the Food lesson). Also, you explained it much more clearly here than the Breakfast explanation - the lesson should be changed to what you wrote here in the notes!! :)


This sentence may have been borrowed from the volunteer Tree2 which did have our Tips and Notes, two years ago. Apparently, it was recently added to the staff tree which does not have the same structure or explanations.


golf504, you can see the lessons when you click on the lightbulb. So instead of clicking "start" on a lesson, you instead click the lightbulb icon.


Hey :), I am new here and have no idea on what you guys are discussing regarding notes. I will really appreciate if you could direct me on how to access such materials.... I'm confuse and need some directions.


Why du or de needed in the first place? Je bois le lait not right? Or perhaps boire must be followed by a du or de?


sofie- It would have been, I drink the milk


Please read the second post on this page.


read what is written and act accordingly. it doesn't matter if you mean 'i prefer milk' or 'right now i am drinking milk', if the verb is an action verb you use some form of 'de'. and regardless of what you mean, the definite article (le//la/l'/les) is used with preference verbs.


i struggled with this, so thank you!


Am I thinking correctly to say: 1. du, de la, and des = some, undefined quantity or speaking general. 2. However this changes when using a verb of appreciation. For appreciation verbs the "de" is dropped and only le, la or les is used; even if, or especially if, we are speaking in general terms. 3. And so when back translating with verbs of appreciation, where we see no form of DE, and only see a form of LE, we need to translate this NOT to the specific 'the' but to the general some; which in the case of English can be left out, so we are left with just the noun eg milk.


1) For uncountable nouns, "du, de la, de l'" translate the meaning of "some" as "an unknown amount of a mass thing", NOT "speaking general".

  • Au petit déjeuner, je bois du lait = At breakfast, I drink (some) milk.
  • En ce moment, je bois du lait = Right now, I am drinking (some) milk.

2) For countable nouns, indefinite people, animals and things use "un, une, des".

  • J'ai un mari et des enfants = I have a husband and children ("children" is the plural of "a child").

3) Countable or uncountable things, categories, and concepts use "le, la, les", when they are generalized, with or without an appreciation verb.

  • J'adore le chocolat = I love chocolate.
  • Foxes are shrewd = Les renards sont rusés.
  • History is my favorite subject = L'histoire est ma matière préférée.


au petit déjeuner, and petit -déjeuner is a verb : je petit-déjeune


Is this just playing with the words for amusement; or am I missing something?


Mitaine is correct:

  • the noun "le petit déjeuner" does not have a hyphen
  • the verb "petit-déjeuner" has a hyphen.


Does this mean "I breakfast" and does that mean "I eat breakfast". I"m not clear how it is a verb. Would love to know.


Not all French speakers use "petit-déjeuner" as a verb but it is correct.

Others use "Je prends mon petit déjeuner" with the noun and in some regions, some say "Je déjeune" (lit. I break fast).

For other meals:

  • Je déjeune (midday) = I have/eat lunch
  • Je dîne (@8 p.m.)= I have/eat dinner
  • Je soupe (late evening) = I have/eat supper


Thanks Sitesurf for another clear explanation with examples. I had not seen it as a verb before and your examples really help my learning


this should be posted every time a similar question is asked,

at the start, this confused me like crazy, 4 months later, it makes 95% sense to me


I can't tell you how many times I have posted similar explanations in the past 9 years!


So, if I am explaining what it means that I am not a vegetarian, I would say «Je mange de la viande», even though I am saying that I eat meat in general (and I am not referring to any specific serving of meat). Is that correct?


I believe so. If you WERE referring to a specific piece of meat then you would leave out 'de' and just use 'la viande' (that is on the table, or that you picked up this morning, etc).


can somebody please explain me difference between je bois le lait and je bois du lait? i dont get it....


same difference as between "I drink the milk" vs "I drink some milk"


Yes, but the question asked "I drink milk"; therefore surely it should be Le lait, since DU lait would imply drink SOME milk, in other words, specific milk, wheras it sounds as if the question is asking: "I normally/generally drink milk"


Apparently with action verbs like boire, manger etc, the next word regardless of quantity is de. Strange rule but what isn't in French?


tct- When it's about "some" we use de or du : du chocolat, de la viande/some meat, des raisins/some grapes


jennifer- Imagine on a table, there are different beverages, you choose the milk, you tell your friend I drink the milk, je bois le lait.


Since the question is a generality, why is it DU (some) and not LE, the latter which would indicate that I normally/in general , drink milk. The question did not say: "I drink SOME milk" or, "I am drinking milk", it said "I drink milk" which indicates a general case as opposed to a specific case.


No, the sentence is not a generality. A generality is something like "I love milk" or "Milk is white", where "milk" is considered as a category of things.

"I drink milk" is not about a whole category of things but about "an unknown amount of a mass thing", or "some milk". This meaning translates to the partitive article "du" (the contraction of "de+le" before a masculine mass noun starting with a consonant sound).

"I drink/am drinking milk" and "I drink/am drinking some milk" mean the same and translate to "Je bois du lait".

With "I drink the milk", the milk is specific because it was mentioned before or it is in front of me.


I do not understand when exactly should I use "du"?


Please read the whole thread.


But i was just taught that "I drink tea" is "Je bois le thè". What's different about milk that makes it "du"?


No, "I drink tea" is "je bois du thé", not "le thé".


Please don't get bogged down in too much detail. I've learned that Duolingo can't cope with these nuances - all context is lost in isolated sentences and therefore it's difficult to get a handle on what exactly was meant. There is also the problem that English can be different across the world and I'm sure French is different across the French-speaking world too. Please don't worry, when you're speaking in context with a French person it will all become apparent and these little things cease to be important. I used to be hung up on the detail and it would stop me speaking. Now I worry less and am much happier having a go than I used to be. Let the little things go.


bois or boit? me and others?


It should be "je bois" (I drink) and "il/elle boit" (he/she drinks). Look at the verb's conjugation here: http://la-conjugaison.nouvelobs.com/du/verbe/boire.php


How de we acceas the tips and notes section? I never knew about that


Go to a lesson and click on it. Instead of clicking on the "lesson" button, click on the lightbulb picture instead.


I write "je boire" why is incorrect?


You have to conjugate verbs. You have used the infinitive (non conjugated) form of verb "boire".

je bois, tu bois, il/elle/on boit, nous buvons, vous buvez, ils/elles boivent


So why is it le cafe but du lait? In the same sentence construction.


Je bois du café = I drink coffee
Je bois du lait = I drink milk

Je bois le café = I drink the coffee
Je bois le lait = I drink the milk


john, it's about context


Je bois le lait should be the correct answer. Doesn't that mean I drink milk and Je bois du lait mean I drink some milk? Why have two answers available to choose if only one is somehow right?


kristen- wrong- There's no LE/the in the English sentence. With LE it would be a specific milk. Je bois le lait = I drink the milk. Je bois du lait = I drink (some) milk. For the suggestions, they're not all correct answers, it's a lesson, you have to choose the correct answers, what would be the difficulty here if Duo gives you all the answers.


Doesn't "du" mean "some" in English? So shouldn't it be "je bois le lait" because that means "I drink the milk" and in French, you put a "the" before each noun


brittany- some milk is not the milk. We don't put the each time, du is also an article, a partitive article. du lait is some milk and we don't talk about the quantity. Le lait is a specific milk, maybe the I one I left for you on the table. If I ask you will you drink the milk or the juice, the answer : le lait


please read the discussion. Your question is answered already


I have read the discussion, and I have not found answers. I want to know if “I drink the milk” is acceptable


Did you read Sitesurf about 6 comments above? It is very clear.


I’m afraid I haven’t. What did he say?


When you click on VIEW/REPLY it should open here. scroll up to SiteSurf's explanation.


I would have thought that whether to use le or du depends on how you translate je bois.

I am drinking milk (right now): je bois du lait.

I drink milk (regularly, generally): je bois le lait.

If I am given "I drink milk" to translate, surely I could go either way with le and du?


sean, your second exemple is wrong, i'm native and if you ask me what do you drink everyday for dinner, je bois du lait. we use le lait to say, le lait est bon pour la santé/ milk is good for the health. Yesterday I drank the milk that you left for me/ hier j'ai bu le lait que tu m'as laissé.


Let's all drink tea instead!




Please grow up a bit.


Holà/bon jour! Got here from a French lesson!


Le lait should be accepted. This reads as "I drink milk in general" not "some milk"


tom- wron g- le lait is the milk, je bois du lait is some milk. le lait is a specific one, for exemple : take the milk I left for you on the table


Why "je bois du le lait" is incorrect? Such a construction "du le" was used before!


shurame- de la for feminine but du le, never.


shurame- wrong, du le is very wrong, but there's de le which is contracted en du. You have to choose between du or le, but you can't put the 2 in the same expression, du lait (some) or le lait (the)


that is like saying "de + le [du] + le [again]...de le le

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