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  5. de/des can anyone explain?


de/des can anyone explain?

de beaux livres de beaux objets de belles autos

de nouveaux livres de nouveaux objets de nouvelles autos

de vieux livres de vieux objets de vieilles autos

Can anyone let me know why "de" is used in the sentences in stead of "des"? I thought "des" should be used as the nouns are plurals...?

March 18, 2018



Des is used with plural, however there are exceptions to the rule. One exception is where there is an adjective in front of the noun.

J'ai des livres. I have some books.

But if you wanted to put an adjective that goes before the noun, you must change the des out de, always.

J'ai de nouveau livres. I have some new books. J'ai de vieux livres. I have some old books. J'ai de grands livres. I have some big books. J'ai de petits livres. I have some small books.

Also, if the sentence is in the negative, you change the des to de.

J'ai des livres. "I have some books." becomes: Je n'ai pas de livres. "I don't have any books.


Hi ShaneDoyle2000,

J'ai de nouveau livres.

=> J'ai de nouveaux livres.

Je n'ai pas de livres.

Even if putting livres in plural can be correct in some context(°), it'll more likely be Je n'ai pas de livre..

Note that 0 (zero) implies plural to the noun in English but singular in French.

(°) in contexts where the normal things would explicitely be to have strictly more than one book.


de nouveaux livres (you may like to edit)


why "de" is used in the sentences in stead of "des"?

Because there is an adjective between the indefinite article and the noun.

I thought "des" should be used as the nouns are plurals...?

Yes, your are correct but with the exception of the case where there is an adjective between it and the noun.


Interesting, because I have heard both ("de beaux livres"and "des beaux livres"), and didn't know there was a rule. The French sites say that the first is used in writing and formal speaking, but the second is sometimes used informally.


because I have heard both ("de beaux livres"and "des beaux livres")

Sure it was in a sentence with indefinite article (like "J'ai de beaux livres.") and not with the mark of 'possession' "de + definite article les" (like "J'aime l'odeur des beaux livres.") which contracts in des and doesn't change form?

Of course, there is also the possibility of French speakers making mistakes. ;)


Yes, sure. Do an internet search, and you'll find examples of both., and I was careful to check it wasn't possession (which it sometimes was). I searched for "des beaux livres", "des nouveaux livres" and "de ou des devant un adjectif".


This is a fairly simple rule, but alas many, many French people make mistakes in the oral and even in the print media. We often see the faulty form. I understand that it is difficult for an anglophone, We are not perfect in France, and in England ? Is everyone perfect? Maybe not all ☺


The examples are from a french grammar book for English speakers. The section was about adjective transitions and it didn't mention anything about those exceptions. I guess another exceptions just need to memorize. I got better understanding thanks to you all!


Speaking of de and des, I see you say that "de" should be used with plurals if there is an adjective before the noun. However, I have seen the term "la résolution de conflits internationaux" in articles of the UN - why is it "de" here, although the adjective is AFTER the noun?


Hi Jessicaste918955,

Yes, because, cf. my answer to peterviuz's comment, what we described is the rule for the indefinite article des, not for the sequence "preposition de + article" which marks the "possession".

In your example, it's a mark of "possession" as it's "the resolution OF (SOME) international conflicts" (preposition + article).


Oh, okay. That clears it up for me. Thank you so much!


The French don't do run-on adjectives the way American or English might. We may say

"big yellow car trailer"

which is two descriptive adjectives "big" and "yellow" and then a "noun" and then another noun "trailer".

The French might say

"trailer big yellow of cars" ....... splitting the nouns

"la remorque grande jaune de voitures".

What you're really looking at is a prepositional phrase: "of cars", "de voitures".

I had to look up 'trailer'. The example word came to me in English, but I didn't know the français for it immediately. :-)


Note: I'd simply say "la grande remorque jaune", in French (native). Or, if I really, really, really need to stress it's for a car : "La grande remorque jaune pour voiture".


Merci, beaucoup !

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