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When to use "du" or "de"

When is it correct to use "Du" and when should I use "de". I recently strengthened my Food category in French and I keep messing up on the "du" and "de". Any help will be much appreciated :)

July 8, 2014



You are talking about expressing "some" in French. If you can count the thing use "des", eg "des garçons" If you can't count, (water, milk?) use "du" for masculine nouns, "de la" for feminine eg: "du lait", "du thé" "de la moutarde".

If the word starts with a vowel use "de l' " whether masculine or feminine.

Just us "de" after certain expressions like "I need" - "j'ai besoin de lait".

Someone more knowledgeable will be along soon, so hope this helps in the meantime.


Just to make the underlying pattern clearer: Generally, it's de + article. If you can count it, the article is plural, and de + les is is put together to get des. If it's not countable, it can be de + la for female things, or de + le for male things. Now, if the following word starts with a vowel, the article gets shortened to l', so you get de l'. And as an additional annoyance, de + le gets shortened to du.


excellent explanation. Also, one of the best sites for grammar in french that I have found is french.about.com. They have lessons on pretty much every topic you can think of. Here is the article that answers your questions above: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/de-vs-du-de-la-des.htm


that link was excellent! Merci beaucoup


Merci aussi!! C'est parfait.




I posted this on a similar discussion thread. Put simply, de + le=du. De + la=de la, de + les=des, and de+ anything= de l' when the word you're describing starts with a vowel or an h. It doesn't sound good to say Je veux de les frites does it? So instead you say Je veux DES frites. Instead of saying je bois de le café you say je bois du café.


This is also super helpful:

Wrong: Il n'y a pas du pain Right: Il n'y a pas de pain

Explanation: One of the first things you learn about French vocabulary related to food is that you need to use partitive articles with it, as in je vais acheter du pain (I'm going to buy some bread). You also learn that the partitive article changes to de after a negation, but many French students forget that part. So "there is some bread" is il y a du pain, but "there isn't any bread" is il n'y a pas de pain, not "il n'y a pas du pain."

from: https://www.thoughtco.com/il-ny-a-pas-du-pain-1369461


FINALLY the answer! Thank you so much!

"Je mange DU poisson, je ne mange pas DE poisson" etc. was driving me nuts. Now I get it, thanks again.


Quick question though - I just did a lesson, and the phrase that was to be translated is, "She doesn't drink coffee."

Now Duolingo took both, "Elle ne boit pas DE café" and "Elle ne boit pas DU café." Could you or someone explain the difference in these sentences, specifically what the subtle change in meaning is between the use of "de café" and "du café?"


That looks like a mistake by Duo then, as the partitive article always changes to de after a negative.

Evidence: https://www.thoughtco.com/il-ny-a-pas-du-pain-1369461


Thank you! I recently saw that article shortly after commenting, and you're right. It seems to be a subtle error.


Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!


In the sentence "Une bouteille de vin rouge et du fromage" I get that the "de" is because bottle is feminine and the "du" is because cheese is masculine. However, why is there no "la" for the bottle? Why is it "de vin rouge" rather than "de la vin rouge"?


No, that's not quite right. It's une bouteille de ... because it's a bottle of something (m or f) and it's du fromage because it's some cheese (m). If you want some red wine, it would be du vin rouge (m). A feminine example is de la bière (some beer) or une bouteille de bière (a bottle of beer).


Thanks. Ok so bottle is feminine and wine is masculine. And it refers to the main noun in question?


The de in phrases like une bouteille de ... is not affected by gender. It would also be un verre de ....


Merci Beacoup :)

[deactivated user]

    it is merci beaucoup


    this has been bugging me recently. thanks for the explanations


    I am still a bit confused. For 'there are beans' would you use 'il y a des haricots' or 'il y a du haricots'? Thank you.


    You can count beans so it's des. See NicolaMlle's post.


    Du is the contracted form of de le (which is incorrect grammatically). If the next word is feminine or starts with a vowel, you should use de la or de l'. Also, if you are using un and une, you should write d'un or d'une. If the next word is plural, you should use des (contracted form of de les).


    What about "j'ai besoin de"? Why is it sometimes de and sometimes du?


    Please explain du and de in this Duolingo sentence: "Il y a trop DU soleil pour sortir. Il y a DE soleil tous les jours ici."

    Thank you

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