TNs, U22: Prepositions 1(De & À, Articles after De, Des before Adjectives)

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French prepositions can be difficult because their meanings and uses don't always line up to what you would expect in English.

De and À

The most common French prepositions are de ("of"/"from") and à ("to"/"at"). These prepositions can be used in many ways. For instance, they may indicate movement or location.

  • Nous allons à Paris. — We are going to Paris.
  • Il vient de Bordeaux. — He is coming from Bordeaux.
  • Je suis au restaurant. — I am at the restaurant.

Le and les (masc. or fem.) contract with the preposition “ à, as they do with the preposition de, whenever they are adjacent.

  • Je suis au restaurant. (masc.) — I am at the restaurant.
  • Tu parles aux enfants. (masc.) — You are talking to the children.
  • Tu parles aux garçons et aux filles. — You speak to the boys and girls.
Definite Article De À
le du au
la de la à la
les des aux

If the contraction is followed by a vowel sound, du and de la both become de l' and au and à la both become à l'. This change occurs for euphony only; the nouns do not change genders because of it.

  • Tu parles à l'enfant. (Not au) — You are speaking to the child.
  • Je crois à l’amitié. (Not à la)— I believe in friendship.
  • La porte de l’appartement est ouverte. (Not du*) — The apartment door is open.
  • Son bureau est en face de l’église. (Not de la) — His office is across from the church.

De may be found in numerous fixed expressions, especially after adverbs of quantity to form prepositional phrases like un peu de (“a little”) or beaucoup de ("a lot of"). In such cases, the partitive or indefinite article is removed.

  • Rémy a un peu d'argent. (Not de du)— Remy has a little money.
  • Nous avons beaucoup de pommes. (Not de des)— We have a lot of apples.

Adding de or à to the end of certain verbs can change their meanings.

  • Penser ("to think"): Je pense que c'est un homme. — I think that he is a man.
  • Penser à ("to think about"): Elle pense à son chien. — She's thinking about her dog.
  • Penser de ("to have an opinion about"): Que pensez-vous de ce repas ? — What do you think of this meal?

Using Articles After De

Most articles can be used immediately after expressions and verbs ending in de, but they must follow contraction and elision rules.

  • Elle parle beaucoup des (de + les) pâtes. — She speaks a lot about the pasta.
  • Que pensez-vous de la voiture ? — What do you think of the car?
  • Il a besoin d'un chien. — He needs a dog.

However, no article that already contains de may follow a negative term. This includes the partitives du and de la and the indefinites un, une and des. In this situation, the article is removed so that only the naked de remains.

  • Je n'ai pas de pain. (Not de du) — I do not have (any) bread.
  • Elle ne mange jamais de soupe. (Not de de la) — She never eats soup.
  • Nous ne voulons plus de voiture. (Not de une) — We no longer want a car.
  • Personne n’achète de choses inutiles. (Note de des) — Nobody buys any useless things.

Des Before Adjectives

When the plural indefinite article des appears immediately before an adjective, it changes to de. This occurs with BANGS adjectives, which come before the noun, as well as with adjectives placed before the noun with a subjective meaning

  • Vous êtes de jeunes garçons. — You are young boys.
  • Elle a de petits chiens. — She has small dogs.
  • Il y a d’adorables grenouilles. — There are adorable frogs.

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