https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageMacgyver

plural in french

I understand that when you want to say for example: "some cats" you would say "du/des chats where du is used masculine and des is feminine. but how would you say "The ducks" for example? would you just say les? for example "I have the ducks" would become: " j'ai les canards?

April 13, 2018

7 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/MikeNolan6

La, le and les are definite pronouns, du and des are indefinite pronouns

April 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageMacgyver

but des is a contraction of de and les. but des is still only indefinite?

April 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MikeNolan6

Yes, this article might help: https://www.thoughtco.com/du-de-la-des-1368977

In any language, there are usages you just have to memorize, because no rule explains them all.

Whenever I get frustrated because French grammar seems incomprehensible, I think about the people I know who are struggling with English grammar rules.

April 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageMacgyver

thanks, for the help. My mother language is danish which has a lot of similarities with english grammar wise, but french just seems so overcomplicated at times

April 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Le, la, l' and les are definite articles, used for specific or general things.

  • J'ai le canard = I have the duck
  • Les canards peuvent voler = Ducks (in general) can fly

Du, de la and de l' are partitive articles used with uncountable nouns with the meaning of "an unknown amount of a mass thing".

  • Je bois du vin, de la bière, de l'eau = I drink (some) wine, (some) beer, (some) water

Un, une, and their plural des are indefinite articles, used with countable nouns.

  • J'ai un canard = I have a duck
  • J'ai des canards = I have (more than one) ducks
April 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageMacgyver

Thanks for the reply, but using your example: Les canards peuvent voler = ducks can fly. How can you distinguish this from The ducks can fly (as in a definite countable number) other than through context?

April 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Since French definite articles are used for general or specific things, context would tell if this is a universal truth or if you are describing a scene about specific ducks.

April 15, 2018
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