Translation:There is chocolate around the cake.
How would I know that "du gâteau" in this situation wouldn't mean just "cake".
I wrote the following "There is chocolate around cake.", and obviously got it wrong. But i thought du and de always meant either "some" or nothing in front of the word.
The expression is "autour de" so the "du" is not partitive. "Autour de le gâteau" becomes "Autour du gâteau". Did I explain that well enough so it makes sense?
In other words:
- autour de = around
- autour de le = around the (but de+le=du)
But there's also an expression 'beaucoup de' and I've never seen that 'de' became 'du' or 'de la'... I don't get it
Well regarding your comment about using beaucoup de I think it is a matter of listening and reading in other words immersing yourself in the language, then you'll use the appropriate form without even thinking about it
But how would you say 'There are a lot of/many people' then? Il y a beaucoup des gens?
No - there are two issues here.
First - "beaucoup de", meaning "a lot of". When you use this expression, you generally don't use the article. So: "There are a lot of people" - "Il y a beaucoup de gens".
[Note: I'm told you can say "beaucoup des" when referring to a particular group, as in "Beaucoup des pommes sont rouges", but I'm also told that it sounds better to say "Beaucoup de ces pommes sont rouges".]
However "autour de" does not have the same restriction - if the following noun has an article, you incorporate it: "autour du", "autour de la", "autour des".
Second - Runakom used a splendid website, Linguée, to discover many examples of "beaucoup du"
http://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais (type "beaucoup du" into the box)
If you inspect these, however, you will see that none of them is actually the expression "beaucoup de [quelque chose]" = "a lot of [something]".
For example "Cela dépend beaucoup du contexte" - "That depends a lot on the context". The "beaucoup" goes with the verb, and "du contexte" is separate.
I hope that helps.
@Runakom - regarding your edit of 3/8/14 - I am struggling to think of a case where "many+of+the+noun" would use a singular noun. "Many of the dogs", "many of the soldiers", "many of the pillows", etc., etc. Therefore, I believe the only time you add an article to "beaucoup de" it would have to be plural, i.e,. "beaucoup des chiens", etc. and never "beaucoup du".
@Runakom - you're right! I found two examples on that Linguée page:
Individuels avec des titres autre que mathematicien faisent beaucoup du travail en les mathématiques appliquées.
"beaucoup du travail" = "much of the work
En quittant le chœur pour commencer le service il a mentionné être surpris de la foule, ayant présumé que beaucoup du monde seraient absent en vacances.
"beaucoup du monde" = "much of the world", i.e., "many people"
Might it also be correct to say "There is chocolate surrounding the cake"?
I would translate it by Il y a du chocolat entourant le gâteau.
Yes but it is definitely ugly French, sorry, nothing personal.
No worries. :)
And, I was finding it a little strange myself... How would you translate it? By Il y a du chocolat autour du gâteau.?
You know what? I was wondering whether the real meaning of "surrounding the cake" was not about a halo of chocolate of some sort, as if the chocolate would not touch the cake...
Anyway, I thought about it and could not find any simple, acceptable version of "autour du gâteau"
I imagine this as eating cake in some fancy schmancy restaurant. Some chocolate surrounds the cake in an artistic design which leads one to say, "What a nice presentation".
I can confirm eating chocolate cake with such presentation in French restaurants before. :)
Oh, I understood it like that. "Entourant sans toucher"...
Would "Il y a du chocolat autour le gâteau" be acceptable, or is mixing "du" and "le" in this situation somehow wrong?
the full expression is "autour de + definite article", therefore, according to gender and number , here are the forms you have to use:
- autour de la tarte - "une tarte"
- autour du gâteau (contraction of de-le) - "un gâteau"
- autour des pâtisseries (contaction of de-les, masculine and feminine) - "une pâtisserie"
I now understand this, thanks for explaining. Question is, why is the expression "autour de"?
At some point, all discussions of language end up with "That's just the way it is."
It would be the equivalent of something like "on the surface of", ie not a single preposition like "around" but a locution (several words).
Therefore, as wise DianaM says: that's the way it is!
This does mean that the chocolate is around the cake, i.e., on the plate, and not all over the cake, i.e., as icing? Or could it mean either? Because we would not say "around the cake" in the second case.
Pierre: "Ah non! Je ne trouve pas mon chapeau!"
Rose: "Un moment...je pense que c'est autour ici."
Could autour be usable as such?
That doesn't sound right. The closest I can get is "Je crois que c'est ici quelque part" = "I think that it's around here somewhere".
And I think that the question would sound better as such: "Je ne peux pas trouver mon chapeau" = "I can't find my hat"
Oh, you are so right. Thanks for the help! And I sorta have my answer. So I suppose you don't need to have autour in that sentence as "Je crois que c'est autour ici quelque part" then?
Not only don't you need "autour", but it sounds weird. But I'm not a native speaker, so I can't explain why not. Perhaps Sitesurf (native brilliant Parisian) will chime in.
Because "biscuit" will be also biscuit in French. Besides, biscuit and gâteau are different.
i thought du=de+le and wrote the chocolate, why is it incorrect?
Yes, "du" is the required contraction of de+le.
du chocolat = (some) chocolate
What is goshawk? Is that offered translation common in English speaking areas outside the US?