It's a peculiar rule of French you'll have to remember. When there is an adjective before a plural noun you use "de" instead of "des". If you are saying "she has apples" you would say "elle a des pommes" but if "she has pretty apples" you would say "elle a de jolies pommes." Another example "elle a de grands yeux bleus" - "she has big blue eyes."
Great explanation, thanks a lot. It just reinforces my feeling that French is a fussbudget language, but I love it anyway. (fussbudget = excessively and painfully detailed)
If you mean to ask why it is "les petits canards", it is because that is the only correct way to say "the little ducks". Remember that the rule in "de jeunes garçons" is that one does not say "des jeunes garçons", but "de jeunes garçons". It means "young boys", not "the young boys". The rule applies to the indefinite plural form "des garçons" (boys) when the plural noun is preceded by a (BANGS) adjective. In such case, the "des" changes to "de".
- un garçon = a boy
- des garçons = boys
- un jeune garçon = a young boy
- de jeunes garçons = young boys
- le jeune garçon = the young boy
- les jeunes garçons = the young boys
It's there a rule on when an adjective should precede or not its noun ? I can see from your exemple that it would sound weird to say "Elle a de grands bleus yeux".
There are about 16 adjectives that come before a noun, including grand, petit, bon, mauvais, villain, même
In French, adjectives generally follow the noun they modify. Among the exceptions are those called BANGS adjectives:
- Beauty, e.g., beau/belle/joli(e)
- Age, e.g., une jeune fille
- Number, e.g., trois femmes
- Goodness/Badness, e.g., un mauvais garçon
- Size, e.g., un grand homme
I am starting to understand when to use "de" instead of "des", but I don't understand why, in this sentence, the "de" is even necessary. If I wanted to say: "You are young boys" couldn't I just say: "Vous etes jeunes garcons?" and not include the "de"? What does the "de" do in this sentence?
Yes, "de" is necessary in this case (and in most of cases).
"de" (variation of "des" because of the adjective that follows) is a plural indefinite article (or determiner) that means "some".
Sometimes in spoken French the only way to figure out whether a noun is plural is by the article preceding it. Think of determiner as being exactly that if it helps.
The article determines characteristics of the noun so that it can be understood by people listening. Therefore articles (determiners) are used in French where they are completely useless in English.
I'm suggesting this as an aid to understanding the need for articles not as an exact, quotable description of the proper grammatical meaning of determiners or their use in French,
If "vous" is singular, then you would say "Vous êtes un jeune garçon". In Vous êtes de jeunes garçons", the reason for using "de" instead of "des" is that 1) normally, "des" is the plural of "un" but 2) it changes to "de" when there is an adjective used before the plural noun.
Why is 'de' even used in this sentence? Wouldn't "vous êtes jeunes garçons" suffice? At first, I thought it should translate to "you are 'of' young boys", because of the 'de'. But when I looked at the choices, you couldn't form a sentence anywhere near that context. I went with "you are young boys" but I'm still confused as to why 'de' is even used... Please help, RSVP
It should be vous êtes des jeunes garçons but French converts des to de when in front of an existing adjective.
The full translation would be You are some young boys but English speakers routinely drop the article in such a situation, so Duo allows the some to be dropped from the answer.
In this example you are confronted with an exception in the French part and a characteristic dropping of the article in the English part. Des to de always occurs in the French when appropriate and the dropped article is a feature of the English.
Hope this helps.
For what it's worth, I typed "You are some young boys" and it was marked incorrect. :/