"I need paper."
Translation:J'ai besoin de papier.
"J'ai besoin de" is a phrase where "de" belongs to "avoir besoin".
You can use "j'ai besoin de" before a definite (le, la, les) or singular indefinite article (un, une) , but the plural indefinite "des", and the partitive "du" and "de la" have to disappear
- Je veux un papier --> J'ai besoin d'un papier (de + un)
- Je veux du papier --> J'ai besoin de papier (de + du)
- Je veux des papiers --> J'ai besoin de papiers (de + des)
- Je veux le papier --> J'ai besoin du papier (de + le)
- Je veux les papiers --> J'ai besoin des papiers (de + les)
Thank you for answering my question, but I don't understand your explanation. There isn't a rule, is there, that rules out the article 'le' like there would be following, say, beaucoup. J'ai besoin de papier could be translated as I need some paper, right? But nouns still need an article I thought, so how would I know that it wouldn't be ...besoin de + le papier = besoin du papier or some paper. OK, I know that's wrong, but besoin needs de, and papier needs le if there's no rule to forbid it. I need the rule, I guess, that forbids le in this construction. You say when you can add "some" to the English phrase without changing its meaning, you shouldn't use le/la/les. But don't occurrences of du usually translate as "some"?
You say when you can add "some" to the English phrase without changing its meaning, you shouldn't use le/la/les. But don't occurrences of du usually translate as "some"?
Good point. We would say "je veux du papier" for I want some paper and "je veux le papier" for I want the paper but "j'ai besoin de papier" for I need some paper and "j'ai besoin du papier" for I need the paper. I can't seem to grasp the logic behind it though. Hope someone else will be able to help you with this! I'd be interested in knowing too.
I'll have a try then.
Our problem here is that there's a difference between vouloir and avoir besoin de. And that's the preposition (nightmare of french learners), that can be mistaken for an article.
Je voudrais du pain (I'd like some bread.)
→ du (de le ) is a partitive article.
J'ai besoin de pain (I'need some bread.)
→ de is a preposition always used with that verb.
Let's try with a feminine noun:
Je voudrais de l'eau (I'd like some water.)
→ de l' is a partitive article.
J'ai besoin d'eau (I need some water.)
→ de is a preposition always used with that verb. You would think it should be J'ai besoin de de l'eau but of course, in french you won't repeat that de.
J'ai besoin de l'eau would be I need the water.
Don't know if that helps.