This case is called "complément de nom", ie "de" makes the kink between the main noun (family) and the nominal group (noun , + possibly adjective) which qualifies and specifies the main noun.
- un mur de pierre = a wall made of stone
- un livre de recettes = a book containing recipes
- un jour de bonheur = a day full of happiness
Most often in English, the two nouns are switch and there is no more "of": a stone wall, a recipe book, etc.
does this mean you can't encounter les familles des canards? I understand what you mean by a complement de nom, which seems to require that the main noun be a group category, like a gaggle of geese or a school of fish, or wheels of various cheeses--do these distinctions appear in French too, and this is the French way of expressing such distinctions?
"les familles des canards" = "families of the ducks", ie, specific ducks, like:
- les familles des canards qui nagent sur le lac
In that case, "des" is a contraction of de+les (of the)
if it were "jeunes" (young) it would be placed in front of the noun: une famille de jeunes canards (Age, in BAGS)
For the listening exercise: it's impossible to know whether it is 'jaune' or 'jaunes'. While it's less likely one would say the family is yellow, it's not completely ridiculous, at least in context-specific situations!
How can you tell the differences of de canard jaune and the plural? They sound the same
No difference in pronounciation between singular and plural "canard jaune/canards jaunes". Only context will tell (here: family => plural)
But, if it were young ducks, wouldn't it be 'de jeunes canards'; whereas, this is 'de canards jaunes'? Or, to stretch it: de jeunes canards jaunes.
Not if you are talking about the family of the yellow duck. The family could be multiple colors. So both should be accepted.
If it were "the duck" or "a/one duck", the French would have an article as well:
- la famille du canard jaune (= de+le)
- la famille d'un canard jaune (= of a/one)
We have two (or more) ducks that have a family. The two (or more) ducks are yellow. But we cannot say that all the ducks in the family are yellow. Am I wrong to assume that "jeune" could have been placed with "une famille" to state that it is a yellow family? "Une famille jeune de canards"
yellow = j a u n e
There is a family.
A family consists of several individuals, usually parents + at least one child.
A family of yellow ducks is a group of individuals that are all yellow.
A yellow family does not make much sense.
OK, we'll take it as literally a family of related ducks, in this case. BTW, do the French use collective nouns such as "A pride of Iions", "A flock of seagulls" or "A murder of crows"?
Yes, we have a number of specialized words: une meute de chiens (hunting), une horde de loups, une harde de chiens (wild), etc.
I accidentally used "i' in the word ducks and duo said its right, passing it off as a typo. My lucky day.
Just by listening, it's hard to tell 'canards jaunes' from 'canard jaune'......
"De" belongs to "famille" and not to "canards".
When you express the content, material, quantity or quality of something, you use "de" and the noun, in singular or plural, without an article.
- une bouteille de vin (a bottle of wine)
- une famille de canards (a family of ducks)
- une paire de chaussures (a pair of shoes)
- une table de bois (a wood table)
Est-ce que tu peux utiliser l'article "a" pour tous, ou le n'utiliser pas pour tous, s'il te plaît ? Pour l'uniformité...
Because "Canard Jaune" is not a name.
"A family of yellow ducks" is "une famille de canards jaunes" because une famille/a family has several members.