"Je bois du café."
Translation:I drink coffee.
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The first time you see a new word, it will have a determiner, and in early lessons, this determiner will be an article.
- masculine articles: le (definite), un (indefinite) and du (partitive, contracted from "de+le")
- feminine articles: la (definite), une (indefinite) and de la (partitive)
Therefore, the first time you see the word "café", it will show as "le café", "un café" or "du café".
You will then have to memorize it as "coffee = [un café], as if the article were a prefix.
This should help you remember each word's gender.
"du" is a partitive article (think of it as "part of a mass").
Partitive articles are required in French when the meaning is some in front of a mass noun, even if the English sentence does not have "some".
If the following noun is masculine singular, the partitive article is "du" (= the contraction of "de" + "le").
If the following noun is feminine singular, the partitive article is "de la".
If the following noun starts with a vowel sound, the partitive article is "de l'".
- je bois du café means I am drinking some coffee (masculine)
- je mange de la soupe means I am eating some soup (feminine)
- je bois de l'eau means I am drinking some water (feminine)
- je bois de l'alcool means I am drinking some alcohol (masculine)
As already said several times, it is not a matter of beverages but of grammatical gender and form of the article:
Je bois :
- du café (masculine, noun starting with a consonant)
- de la bière (feminine, noun starting with a consonant)
- de l'alcool (masculine, noun starting with a vowel)
- de l'eau (feminine, noun starting with a vowel)
It's not an IQ test, but a grammar test. If you are requested to pick a word to fill in a blank, make sure you know what is expected:
- "du" expects a masculine noun starting with a consonant.
Therefore, any feminine noun and any masculine noun starting with a vowel sound will be wrong.
Je bois... du café, de l'alcool, de la bière, de l'eau