1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. When do you say “du”?


When do you say “du”?

One thing that makes this language odd is that you can’t just say you/they are eating the food without saying “du” or “de la”. Their literal translation seems to be “some”, but can someone please explain when to say those things? Merci!

January 28, 2018



De la and du are partitive articles. As you noticed, they can often be translated as "some". When you're talking about a PART of something, or an unspecified quantity, and not the whole thing, or if you were referring to something uncountable, use a partitive article. For example:

Part of something/unspecified quantity: "He ate [some] bread." - "Il mange du pain." ((In English, the sentences "He ate the bread," "He ate some bread," and "He ate bread" are quite different. Sometimes their meanings can be similar, but when you hear "He at the bread," it sounds like he ate all of it, like there was a basket or a loaf of bread, and, well, he ate it, right? But when you hear "He ate some bread," it sounds like maybe he only took a piece or two, or nibbled at it, but didn't eat the whole thing, and therein lies the main difference. And when you hear "He ate bread," well, you're not given any information as to the amount, only that it happened, so it's an unspecified quantity, but it's kinda implied that he didn't eat all of it.))

Uncountable: "You have courage." - "Tu as du courage." ((Courage is a noun that can't be counted or quantified.))

Here's a link with a few more examples: https://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/french-grammar/french-indefinite-and-partitive-articles


a very good sentence

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.