du or le
what is the difference between je bois du lait and je bois le lait? I gotten something wrong where the correct answer is je mange le pain but not je mange du pain
French is very strict about articles. In English you can say "there's water on the table" because English allows dropping the articles on non-countable nouns (you can't say "there's ball on the table"). In French, however, articles for non-countable usually can't be dropped. The French article for non countable is "de", and must be followed by the definite article (le, la, les). Female non-countable is "de la". You would expect the male version to be "de le", but French rules dictate that you must say "du" instead of "de le". Similarly, you must say "des" instead of "de les".
Similar rules apply in other cases too, for instance, you must say "au" instead of "a le", and "aux" instead of "a les".
"Je bois du lait" means that you drink SOME milk, whereas if you said "Je bois le lait," then "le" would take on its usual meaning of "the," making it "I drink the milk," implying all of it. Similarly, you can eat "du gateau," or some cake, or "le gateau," meaning "the cake."
@0asa is only half right.
In fact we don't use "Je bois le lait" a lot because it only means that there are other things beside the milk that we could drink. Or that we are describing our actions.
"Je bois du lait" is the same thing as "I drink milk".
And as for "I drink this milk", it is translated as "Je bois ce lait". We use it the same way as in English.
I'm trying really hard to understand when to use "le lait" for "milk" generally and when to use it for "the milk" (as in that/this particular milk). Any insight? Are they interchangeable? If they are interchangeable, then does "Je bois le lait" mean both "I drink milk" (as in I'm not opposed to drinking milk, I don't have an allergy, etc.) and "I drink the milk"
The difference between 'pain' and 'lait' is that the bread comes in countable pieces, while the milk is an uncountable quantity. If something is countable or considered as one part of many, you don't use the 'de'. If something is uncountable or can't be seperated in parts, you have to use the 'de'. If you want to learn more about it, the term you should be looking for is 'partitive article'. http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/articles_4.htm
wataya- it also depends of the context. pain and lait can have the 2 articles, le and du, no matter if it's countable or not, with a context. what are you eating? je mange du pain, we don't know the quantity. I leave the house, I say to my children, If you're hungry, I have bread and I have donuts. When I come back, my son says j'ai mangé le pain et ma sœur les beignes. (donuts)
Honestly guys, articles kill me when learning French. 'Du' is tough to figure out.
from the/of the/belonging to (de + le = du, Cinéma du Maurier.)
specifying the origin of something (ex. Du four = from the oven)
some unspecified quantity when speaking generally (ex. Je mange du riz.)