Whoa .. feeling in over my head! Talk me down please.
I'm very new to French and just came up against the de vs du, de la and des confusion.
.. all I can is wow! I don't even understand the English part of plural partitives and indefinite articles and ..................................... no wonder I failed French in grade school.
Can someone use a baby version and explain just enough of the de vs du portion to get me through until I'm advanced enough to learn the rest. I need to understand the difference but I don't like feeling so overwhelmed I want to quit.
Pretend like you're explaining this to a 2 year old .. because that's about my speed right now.
De + le=du. De + les=des. De + la= de la. De in front of anything that starts with a vowel = de l'...
I think we've all been there at one point, when it comes to du/de la/des. about.com is usually a pretty good resource for French grammar confusion: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/de-vs-du-de-la-des.htm. There is also a quiz so you can test yourself and see where you need to review: http://french.about.com/library/prepositions/bl-devsdest.htm.
For me there wasn't a light bulb, I just realized one day that I had been getting it right - most of the time. ;-) Just keep practicing, it will get easier.
The other thing to bear in mind is that Duolingo was set up mainly to teach English to poor Latin-Americans. So the system is designed to be grammar lite if not grammar free. What you get is a way of repeating drills over in your own time. The patterns sink in you no more need to understand the partitive genitive to speak English as you do to say the words in a foreign language. But instead of picking up mainly poor latin-americans loads of rich westerners with free time picked up on how great it was to use this software and having had expensive western educations they prefer studying with grammar. Each to their own. The newer courses tend to stress grammar more. But the basic system still works grammar free. You keep doing the drills. As long as you make loads of mistakes you continue to learn when you have dropped the mistakes to around three or less you can move forward. But you don't have to learn any grammar if you don't want to and there are many other ways to supplement the learning here. If you don't understand what I just wrote or don't find it helpful please ignore.
Actually I LOVE your reply. I am not a grammar whiz and this gives me such hope. I learned English grammar through osmosis but didn't pay attention enough in school to understand it properly. It's why I'm struggling when it comes up in the teachings here in French. Thank you, I really appreciate hearing that I just have to keep plunking along and not worry about the technical issues.
ETA: Maybe I should take the English course and learn some of my own Grammar, LOL!
This is going to happen a lot. Please do yourself a favor and download this French textbook, that is free, and surprisingly good. It's a classic, written in 1917.
This textbook is written like a rule-book with examples, in a particular order, and it is excellent. It covers all the things you will be challenged by in Duolingo.
You've gotten a lot of good advice. The first comment, about du = de + le, des = de + les, etc. is obvious, you just have to memorize these, not too hard. (The same goes for au = à + le, aux = à + les, etc.) But knowing when to use partitives is a different matter. Often it's obvious, but at times it can be a bit tricky. You may want to do a little studying to feel more comfortable with this subject. The french.about.com site recommended by anthgrl is an excellent resource. I also downloaded the textbook recommended by toussaintlou when it was mentioned in an earlier post, and it's quite helpful as well. I remember reading the discussion by DXLi that suesieb mentions, and I found it very informative and well written, but I can't find it now, I don't know if it's still there. Anyway, the most important advice is this: just keep at it! Practice, practice, practice. That's the whole idea behind Duolingo. Keep exposing yourself. You may read an explanation of some grammatical issue, and not completely understand it, but don't worry about that: just keep on practicing. Soon you'll be getting it right half the time, then three-quarters of the time, then 90% of the time. Little by little you will improve if you keep working at it.
Hi! I've been there and it's very frustrating. There is a very helpful discussion by on of the French course contributors, DXLi, from about a month ago. The thread is called "Overview of French Grammar and vocabulary explanations". The thread gives a good explanation of du, de, del, de la, and des. The thread is under the discussion tab, most popular. I found that I had to keep doing the lessons until the light bulb went off and I began to understand. It is a work in process.