Quick question about French!

Why sometimes, when discussing plural noun, we use "des" but sometimes we should use just "de". In both cases, their meaning is "of/of the" but for some reason, one time it acknolages the plural version of a noun and the other - does not. Examples I found on Duo while practicing "Shopping":

  1. le magasin DE vêtementS - clothing store

  2. le prix DES sacS - price of the bags

Can someone explain how those DE/DES work...?

September 7, 2019


This is really tricky! And an excellent question! I hope somebody can give a succinct answer and I am writing this to counteract the mean spirited downvoters that prevent quite legitimate questions from being answered!

September 7, 2019
September 7, 2019

Thanks! It doesn't explain everything, but it's a start.

September 7, 2019

Also, upvoting is probably the best counter to downvoting. Sometimes, supportive posts seem to increase the meanness of others

September 7, 2019

In your second example, "des" is actually the contraction of "de + les". "Les" is the plural definitive article ("the" in English).

In your first example however, "vêtements" is indefinitive. The plural indefinitive article is "des", but because "de des" would sound redundant, "des" is simply omitted and it becomes "de".

You'd say: "Je vais au magasin de vêtements pour acheter des vêtements." (I go to the clothing store to buy clothes.)

"Le prix des sacs est élevé, je ne vais pas les acheter." (The price of the bags is high, I'm not going to buy them.)

Hope this helps! :)

September 8, 2019

It's very complex, but here are four "quick & dirty" examples for using de instead of des.....

  • Use de after adverbs of quantity: beaucoup de livres, assez de pommes, trop de valises, etc.

  • Use de in a negation situation: Je n'ai pas de poires.

  • Use de when an adjective precedes the noun: Il y a de beaux arbres.

  • Use de when forming noun phrases: album de photos, match de foot.

September 9, 2019

It generally has to do with the word BEFORE the de. For instance, it's always "beaucoup de". Think of it as an idiom.

September 7, 2019

So is there like a list of words that always have DE instead of DES?

September 8, 2019

Well in your examples, DE is used to define the nature of the store, while DES is a possessive preposition.

You will note that in the first example you would have to reverse the order of the words to establish the relation of possession: les vêtements du magasin. And using the plural for "magasins" clarifies the difference: les magasins de vêtements / les vêtements des magasins

But there are many other uses of DE and DES, other than the two you just highlighted (unfortunately for learners).

September 8, 2019

I think it has to do with wether the subject is abstract or not. I've seen sentences with "des" with actual objects; and sentences use "de" for abstract stuff

September 7, 2019

YEah, but in my example - le magasin de vêtements, clothes are not exactly an abstract objects... :/

September 8, 2019

i think it has got to do wth the noun or subject but im not sure

September 8, 2019
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