"My children don't want to eat either turkey or mashed potatoes."

Translation:Mes enfants ne veulent manger ni dinde ni purée.

July 1, 2020

This discussion is locked.


In the last sentence it was "ni du veau ni du bœuf", but in this one it's "ni dinde ni purée". What are the rules for leaving out the indefinite article?


As Iʼm sure you know, articles change when being negated like so:

  • Indefinite articles: un, une, desde (exception when verb is « être »)
  • Partitive articles: du, de la, de lʼ, desde

The only articles that remain the same after a negation are definite articles.

The rule with the « ne…ni…ni… » construction is that only articles remain while « de » is dropped. The last sentence you saw was incorrect and should be reported if it included partitive articles.

Here are some examples which illustrate what happens when two separate sentences are negated, and what happens when they are combined using « ne…ni…ni… »:

  • Je mange de la dindeJe ne mange pas de dinde
  • Je mange de la puréeJe ne mange pas de purée
  • Je mange de la dinde et de la puréeJe ne mange ni dinde ni purée

Here you can see how « de la » becomes « de » when negated, which then gets dropped after « ni ».

  • Je porte un T-shirtJe ne porte pas de T-shirt
  • Je porte une vesteJe ne porte pas de veste
  • Je porte un T-shirt et une vesteJe ne porte ni T-shirt ni veste

Here you can see how « un » and « une » both become « de », which then get dropped after « ni ».

  • Jʼaime le chocolatJe nʼaime pas le chocolat
  • Jʼaime la dindeJe nʼaime pas la dinde
  • Jʼaime le chocolat et la dindeJe nʼaime ni le chocolat ni la dinde

Here, « le » and « la » remain unchanged after the negation and, therefore, remain after « ni ».

Of course, this is specifically with regards to articles. Other determiners always get left in since they specify a specific or specific objects. These can include possessive determiners (mon, ma, mes, ton, ta, tes, etc.), demonstratives (ce, cette, cet, ces), etc.

Edit: I forgot to mention what happens with « être » as it is an exception to the above rules.

With « être », articles are unchanged after a negation. Here are some examples:

  • Cʼest un chatCe nʼest pas un chat
  • Ce sont des animauxCe ne sont pas des animaux

Since articles remain unchanged when negating with « être », this means they will also remain unchanged with « ne…ni…ni… »:

  • Cʼest un chat et un chienCe nʼest ni un chat ni un chien


What a clear and thorough reply, ruzisky2283. Thank you so much. I have copied it down and it will help in many situations.


Youʼre very welcome!


Really very clear and helpful, thank you very much


So clear and helpful, thank you so much.


I think you are misremembering. The only similar exercise I can find is "En général, je ne cuisine ni veau ni bœuf.".


I agree with NicoletteD587450. I'm really struggling to understand the le, la, les, de la, du, or no article thing when dealing with the general sense, the specific sense or the 'some' thing. I have an overall understanding but can't come to grips with the all the variations. Sitesurf?

[deactivated user]

    The ni replaces the article. Native English speaker and ESL tutor here and fully bilingual for decades living in a bilingual region.


    In this case pas is missed after the verb but in similar questions it is included. I am confused


    This is because « ni » is allowed to be used on its own after another negative statement has already been made to add another object, so you may see sentences like this:

    Je ne mange pas de fruits ni légumes.
    I donʼt eat fruit(s) or vegetables.

    Il ne parle à personne ni moi non plus.
    He doesnʼt speak to anyone and neither do I.

    Keep in mind that you need to follow the rules for whichever type of negation youʼre using, meaning that in my first example, there is a « de » after « pas », but not after « ni » since they get dropped after « ni », but not after « pas ».


    So does that mean for this example you could say 'mes enfants ne veulent pas manger de dinde ni purée'? I realise the meaning is slightly different but is it a correct sentence?


    Iʼm actually not sure. I will have to yield to someone else, here, as I am also curious myself.

    My instinct says it might be okay since you would need to include another « ne » after « ni » if you were adding a verb instead of a noun, but Iʼm not 100% sure so I donʼt want to give you any misinformation.


    How do you know when to leave pas out? In some statements it's included and not in others. Very confusing.


    You only use 'pas' when the sense is 'not'. Ne ... pas means not. Ne ... ni... ni... means neither ... nor... , which is being taught here. You don't need 'pas' as well. Some other negations which act the same way are ne ... que which means only, ne ... plus which means no longer, ne ... jamais: never, ne ...rien: nothing, and ne ... personne which means nobody.


    Thanks for that explanation but I have just done another exercise which seems to contradict this. Tu ne payais jamais ni les restos ni les cafés. So here jamais and ni are used together. Are you saying it is only pas that can't be used with ni?


    Duolingo does seem to like to confuse people! Just when we're getting used to a new construction, they throw in something trickier. Your example does not contradict what I said. 'Pas' is still not used, but two negative ideas are used in tandem to make a more forceful sentence: 'You NEVER paid for either...'. Hope this helps.


    Since this section of the course has only been added recently as of the time I am commenting this, there are still some growing pains to work through. In this case, there should be no « ni » after « jamais » since both words serve the same purpose in the sentence. It should be: « tu ne payais jamais les restos ni les cafés. »

    « Ni » by itself is allowed to be added after another negation has already been used, which is why there should only be one « ni » in the example. This is why you will sometimes see « ne…pas » being followed by « ni » instead of « ne…ni…ni » like youʼre being taught in this section of the course; itʼs up to you if you want to use « ne…pas…ni » or « ne…ni…ni ».

    Itʼs worth noting that you can use multiple negations together like this:

    Tu ne payais jamais rien.
    1. Youʼve never paid for anything.
    2. You never used to pay for anything.

    However, I bring this up because it is not the same with « ni ». With « ni », you only need it if youʼre adding something to another negative statement that has already been made, meaning you donʼt need to add another one like Duo has in their example. You might, however, see something like this:

    Tu ne payais jamais rien ni moi non plus.
    1. Youʼve never paid for anything and neither have I.
    2. You never used to pay for anything and neither did I.

    In cases like this, itʼs adding on to another negative statement, so itʼs grammatical.


    Is purée always mashed potato, since other foods can be puréed


    I can't answer this for French for certain, but in Dutch, when you see an unqualified puree, it's potatoes.


    Puree alone refers to mashed potatoes otherwise puree de legumes ect.


    In another sentence in this exercise (the one about the child painting the wall with his mashed potatoes), mashed potatoes was "purée de pommes de terre", but in this sentence, that's not accepted. Inconsistent on Duo's part.

    [deactivated user]

      Mes enfants ne veulent manger ni dinde ni patates pilées is 100% correct. We do not say purée in Canada


      Why is the negative "pas" excluded. The negative is referring to wanting and not to eat?


      Please explain why 'pas' isn't necessary, since it negates 'veulent', not 'manger'??


      "Ne" negates the whole clause/expression/sentence, not just "veulent".


      Mes enfants ne veulent "pas" manger ni dinde ni purée . So why is pas not used in this case?


      Because "ne … ni … ni" already means "neither … nor". The double negative is not required.


      Is it wrong to say purée de pommes de terre?


      You only need to say la purée. Pommes de terre is understood but unspoken.


      I understand that "ni" takes the place of the article, but why is this incorrect? "Mes enfants ne veulent pas manger de dinde ou de purée"?


      Because technically, just like the equivalent English sentence, it fails to exclude (and therefore implies) that they do like turkey and mash even though they dislike each one in isolation.


      Shouldn't dindon be allowable for turkey?


      "Mes enfants ne veulent manger ni dinde ni pommes de terre écrasées." is not accepted. Reported.


      Mashed potatoes is not puree. Puree can be of anything. Puree de pommes de terre is mashed potatoes.


      Actually it's not. An unqualified "purée" means "purée de pommes de terre" and they both mean "pureed potato(es)".

      Potatoes that have been mashed rather than pureed are "pommes de terre écrasées" (or "patates pilées" in Canadian French).

      Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.