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  5. En coton or de coton?


En coton or de coton?

Hi everybody, There is one thing which makes me confused is that I don't know to use de or en to say about the materials of which one thing is made. For example: Une robe de coton Une robe en coton Which sentence is correct? And how to know when we must use en or de? Thank you.!

July 27, 2017



When you want to put the emphasis on the material constituting the object using "en" is usually the natural way of saying it but both are correct. There are probably some exceptions when the expression has become an idiom, like "a rocking horse" that you would translate as "un cheval de bois".


Here is my opinion : In the olden days they almost always used "de", nowadays we hear more and more often "en". The use changes. The French themselves say sometimes one, sometimes the other. In any case, you will not shock nobody by preferring the old form "de".


Or simply:

  • une robe de coton: formal, elegant
  • une robe en coton: informal

In some cases, the difference is even more striking:

  • un anneau d'or: literary
  • un anneau en or: neutral
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