"These are cats."
Translation:Ce sont des chats.
"ce" is a pronoun that you mostly find attached to verb "être": c'est or ce sont. It is masculine and it never changes (no plural).
"ce" is also an adjective: - ce chat (masculine) - this cat - cet ami, cet homme (masculine, in front of a word starting with a vowel or a non aspirate H) - this friend, this man - cette chatte (feminine) - this female cat - ces chats, ces chattes, ces amis, ces hommes = all plural (these/those)
It took me a while to grasp this. What helped is to think of de/du/des as "some". In English we often ASSUME the "some", but it's still there. In this case: These are (some) cats.
I am still confused about "J'aime bien le vin," using le indtead of du, even when I mean that I like wine in general, not one particular bottle.
Generalities are expressed with definite articles in French, hence "j'aime le vin", "le vin est une boisson" and other types of generalities.
Definite articles in French (le, la, l', les) are also used to determine specific objects: "le chat qui dort ici" (the cat that's sleeping here).
Indefinite articles in French are: un, une, des. In English, you have a/an but you don't have a strict plural for a/an, to mean "more than one", or "an undefined number of plural noun".
"some" is somewhat misleading to translate "des", since it is optional, and depending on what's next (singular or plural noun) and its position in the sentence, the translation to French will be different:
- there were (some) men on the road = il y avait des hommes sur la route.
- some men were looking at the car = certains hommes regardaient la voiture.
When it comes to partitives, it is easier, in my opinion, because in "partitive", you have "part" - like "part of something", hence their being used with singular, mass nouns.
French partitive articles are: du, de la, de l'. They only mean one thing: "an undefined quantity of a mass thing".
Can I check my thinking on this? So "Ce sont des chats" is correct over "Ils sont des chats" because we aren't saying: They are cats? How would you say "They are cats" correctly?
Also, would the article in this, and any such formulation, always be considered a modifier of the noun (so like an adjective) and therefore demand the "Ce sont" ?
"Il est un", "elle est une", "ils sont des" and "elles sont des" must be replaced by "c'est un/une" in singular and "ce sont des" in plural.
- Singular: It is a cat = C'est un chat (also "this is a cat")
- Plural: They are cats = Ce sont des chats (also "these/those are cats")
Modifiers can be:
- indefinite articles: un, une, des
- definite articles: le, la, les
- demonstrative adjectives: ce, cet, cette ces,
- possessive adjjectives: mon, ton, son, ma, ta, sa, notre, votre leur, mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs
- indefinite adjectives: quelques, certains
- numbers: un, deux, trois...