"The cats eat fish."
Translation:Les chats mangent du poisson.
"du" is used when there is no specific quantity such as "some" in English. du beurre (some butter), du sel (some salt), du vent (some wind)..
des is used when you can count the subject... des hommes (which is more than one man) des fraises (more than one strawberry), des jours (more than one day).
Those are the endings related to the verb infinitives: I, You, He/She/It, We, You, They. i was taught to remember the endings as "E,Es,E,Ons,Ez,Ent. So if you would go with the I form, speaking about yourself your verb or word should end with e. if you are speaking about You, someone else, you would use ES at the end and so on. Example: "Habiter- to live" -j'habite- (i) -tu habites - (you) -il/elle habite (he/she) -nous habitons (we) -vous habitez (you/plural) -ils/elles habitent (they)
They're all conjugations for the word manger. Je mange, tu manges, etc. The ending changes depending on the vowel.
I answered Les chats mangent des poissons , and it was corrected but now I see the right answer is du poisson, I read the comment about wether the fish are countable or unknown, I just want to know which answer is more correct?
Is "du" always used before words when it is unclear whether they are singular or plural? I'm trying to understand why "des" wouldn't work.
It isn't unclear whether 'poisson' is singular or plural. It's singular because otherwise it would have been 'poissons'. And because 'poisson' is singular 'des' doesn't work, but 'du' does.
However, it is unclear how much fish the cats eat is, and because this is unclear you use the partitive article (du, de l', de la, des). If you want to you can translate the partitive article with 'some':
- Les chats mangent du poisson - The cats (some) eat fish. (The amount of fish is unspecified.)
- Les chats boivent de l'eau - The cats (some) drink water. (The amount of water is unspecified.)
- Les chats mangent de la viande - The cats (some) eat meat. (Idem dito)
Usually these things are singular (eg poisson, eau, viande) but sometimes things that are singular in English are plural in French and then you use 'des':
- Nous mangent des épinards - We eat (some) spinach.
There are some more rules and exceptions and other things you might want to know listed here: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/de-vs-du-de-la-des_2.htm
On your second point, "nous mangeons des épinards" is just the plural of "nous mangeons un épinard".
With plural nouns, there is no point using any partitive, since they are countable.
What abouts pâtes though? Shouldnt that be proceeded with du instead of des?
"du poisson" is partitive for an uncountable noun, meaning some fish, as an unknown amount of a mass thing).
"des poissons" is the plural of "un poisson", a countable noun, meaning one fish in singular, and more than one fish/various fishes in plural.
Why must one write "du"? Why isn't "Les chats mangent poisson" acceptable? The English sentence isn't "the cats eat some fish" or "the cats eat some fishes," after all.
I have the same question, it's not clear for me when and why I have to put "du" before a noun (food in this case).
"Some" is not necessary in English, but "du" is required in French, when the noun is uncountable, masculine and starts with a consonant sound.
Also, please read the rest of the thread where explanations and comments have already answered your question a number of times.
They are different conjugations of the verb Manger which means to eat.
Je mange: I am eating
Ils/elles mangent: They are eating.
Hope that helps :]
The difference between "le chat mange" and "les chats mangent" is not to be heard in the noun or verb but in the article:
- le = LUH
- les = LAY
So focus on determiners because they never sound the same in singular and plural.