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  5. "I like vegetables, yet I eat…

"I like vegetables, yet I eat meat."

Translation:J'aime bien les légumes, cependant je mange de la viande.

December 26, 2012



Why is it not "DES légumes" if it is also "DE LA viande"


"J'aime les légumes" is a generality: I like vegetables in general, all of them, whichever they are. In that case, the French use definite article le/la/les.

"Je mange de la viande" is a partitive case: I eat some meat, a piece of meat. In that case, the French use DE + definite article, with "de la" for feminine nouns and "du" for masculine nouns (contraction of de-le).


But how do we know that "I eat meat" is some meat, and not all meat (by the same thinking you used to determine the use of "les" before legumes)?


The kind of verb used makes the difference:

  • with an action verb (eat, take, drink, cut, etc) I eat meat: I eat some meat, a piece of meat, a slice of meat, a mouthful of meat... ie "an undefined quantity of meat". Meat is a mass word, something you cannot count (unlike strawberries), like water, air, time...

so, you use the partitive du (=de+le) or de la, always singular: je bois de l'eau, je respire de l'air...

  • with an appreciation verb (aimer, détester, préférer, apprécier...): I like meat, any kind of meat, meat in general (vs fish or vegetables, for example)... appreciation verbs naturally introduce generalities.

so, you use the definite article, singular or plural le, la, les: j'aime les robes, mais je préfère les jupes et je déteste les pantalons.


Excellent explanation. Thanks!


Very helpful. Thanks so much!


I was so busy looking at the entirety of the sentence I slid right past the appreciation verb sitting right there at front of the sentence. Lost another heart!


Merci! So, "J'aime des legumes" is specifically "I like some vegetables?" as in liking carrots and peas but not onions?



"j'aime des légumes" does not work because of the verb: appreciation verbs use definite articles le, la, les.

  • j'aime les légumes (en général) = I like vegetables (in general)

If you want to express that you like some vegetables but not all, you will have to say:

  • j'aimecertains légumes (les carrottes, pas les pois) = I like some vegetables (carrots, not peas)



A few clarifications:

1) j'aime des vêtements does not work to mean "chothing in general" but "j'aime les vêtements" (because of verb "aimer")

2) partitive articles are only singular, because they are used with mass nouns that are always singular: du pain, de la viande, de l'eau.

3) uncountables nouns, like pain, viande ou eau can indeed exist in plural:

  • dans cette boulangerie, il y a des pains de toutes sortes (in this bakery, there are breads of all kinds)

  • j'ai acheté des eaux différentes : plates, gazeuses, aromatisées... (I bought various waters: still, sparkling, flavored...)


@Runakom. In my opinion "partitive" means "part of", so I naturally exclude plurals from that definition.

So, to me, "je mange des fruits" is just the plural of "je mange un fruit".


I'm not sure exactly, but I think you're on the right track. I'm not sure that Runakom's response is entirely correct; it doesn't seem to match up with what Sitesurf has said, and I would trust Sitesurf over About.com any day ;)


Edited re Sitesurf's comments above: "vegetables" i.e. the group as a whole, not some individual types. "More than one countable thing in an indefinite sense" says About.com.

So "j'ai des vêtements" refers to clothes in general (indefinite), not just shirts or trousers, whereas "les" denotes the plural - all of the clothes* which are known to the speaker and not indefinite.

*Clothes in general, as in no particular type of clothing is specified. So a suitcase full of clothes or a basket full of apples would use "les". Also, edited original response re Sitesurf's point about using "appreciation verbs".


I agree with Sitesurf but we're talking about two different things. "Les" - http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/articles.htm

Definite article - quantity of what is being referred to is known.

"Des" is the indefinite article - quantity is uncountable.

So because you can't count all "vegetables" in the world you're only referring to some of them.

[Edited: Sitesurf suggested a construction for referring to only some vegetables within a group]

But what about "Des" as a partitive article (with uncountable nouns, like water - my question about "des eau" is answered by Sitesurf below)? This link says it can be used - http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/articles_4.htm.

A bit confused on this one. When would "des" ever be used as the partitive article?


@Sitesurf - Thanks, I was updating my posts when you replied. Only 1 question remains - the About.com link suggests "des" is one of the 4 forms of partitive article. This doesn't seem to coincide with your analysis that the partitive article can only be singular as its used with mass nouns. Great help once again :-)


Merci Sitesurf! Je crois que je comprends.


Sitesurf is my homeboy/girl


Thank you! Great explanation.


Useful and instructive explanation


Thanks, that helps me: appreciation verbs naturally introdroduce generality (I love ALL vegetables, so must use the definite article for generality) but, with an action verb like manger, it is physically impossible to eat ALL meat so we must use the partitive de la viande.


So would you say: "J'aime la viande mais je mange des legumes"?


hmm...something doesn't track with "definite" article being used for "generalities". It would seem "indefinite" would better capture "generalities". Can you elaborate on this phenomenon in French?


I think that the use of the definite article can be justified (if need be?) by the idea that "les" refers to a defined community and means "all the" (if countable), or "the whole category" (if uncountable).

  • les hommes sont plus grands que les femmes = all of them
  • le pain est un aliment sain = as a whole, in general

But you can argue that the logic of it could have been reversed... unfortunately, I was not there when the French language was invented ;-)


The reason I ask is because it's not intuitive for English speakers...if we want to discuss ALL of some {set of things}, we simply pluralize it.

Tigers eat meat.

Pass me those waters.

I like that place's breads.


Yes, I know. That is why I feel the need to explain the French perspective on these notions, which obviously are either things you have to understand then accept or just admit because some rules are kind of arbitrary. French being mainly based on Latin, it has built with robust, logical roots which have not disappeared with time and cultural evolution. French is probably more detailed and precise than other languages and the vagueness of de-articled nouns does not always match our nuances.


J'aime les légumes, cependant je mange de la viande. - J'aime bien les légumes, cependant je mange de la viande. The two sentences are not same, i think.


I agree. The second is a stronger sentiment, and I would translate it as 'I really like vegetables'


I believe it is quite opposite: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/aimer.htm

Je l'aime ! = I love him/her!

Je l'aime bien. = I like him/her.


This is one reason why the discussions are so useful ... it's counter-intuitive to me that 'bien' weakens 'aimer' but now I understand.

Thanks for the link!


They really are though I have learned so many basic rules pertaining to the French I often refer to duolingo as the facebook of languages...


Yet it is also true (and in examples on Duo) that when aimer and adorer are used in the same sentence, adorer has the stronger sentiment of love.


Thanks for the link. Very helpful.


When talking about things (not people), j'aime means both "I love" and "I like".
J'aime bien means only "I like".


They convey a similar idea, but it is inconsistent for the second sentence to be an answer when duolingo is so picky in other translations.


A mistake: it should be "de la viande" of the other way round "yet I eat the meat"


This is very strange, the first time I translate with "les" and that was wrong. Now I translated with "des", it is wrong again,

I read the note of surfsite, and it made sense to me Know I don't know anymore


Why not 'je mange de la viande'?


One could write/say "mais je mange de la viande" and get the same sense n'est ce pas?


Just to clarify, if I'd say "I like meat but I eat vegetables" would it be "J'aime la viande cependant je mange des legumes"?


j'aime la viande, cependant/pourtant/toutefois/néanmoins/mais je mange des légumes.


I agree - de la viande


quelle est la difference entre 'cependent' et 'pourtant'?


In this context, "pourtant" is a bit stronger to express an opposition. You can use both here however, cependant meaning "during that" and pourtant "for that much" (word for word, of course).


Thanks been looking for this explanation all over :) Are there any sentences we can use one and not the other?


Not really, in this context I think that "pourtant" is just more frequent and "cependant" a bit more formal.


I wrote "J'aime les légumes, or je mange la viande", which was marked as incorrect. What's wrong with it?


"de la viande" = (some) meat


So how does or compare to cependant and pourtant?


Latin does not know artikel.


These answers seem pretty arbitrary. Sometimes they count it wrong if you translate vegetables as Les legumes and sometimes it's wrong if it's des legumes. They do the same thing with j'aime. I've had it counted wrong whether I use "I like" or "I love".


If you mean that grammar rules are arbitraty, you are certainly right.

But there are rules, that have to be respected. If you read the whole thread, they are fully explained.


Again mais was not offered so I changed to a word offered and it was not accepted, very frustrating


Any body else's multiple choice not working?


why doesn't it accept "des legumes"? The English sentence says "I like vegetables", not "the vegetables", so I figured "des legumes" would be more appropriate than "les legumes" right?


The correct use of French articles needs English speakers to change their mindsets.

Definite vs indefinite vs partitive articles:

1) Definite articles have 2 main uses:

  • specify a noun, like in English: "l'homme là-bas" = "the man there"
  • mark a generality: "les chats voient dans le noir" = "cats see in the dark" (no article in English); "le travail est bon pour la santé" = "work(ing) is good for health" (no article in English); "j'aime les légumes" = "I like vegetables" (case valid for all expressions of likes and dislikes with verbs: aimer, adorer, détester, haïr, préférer, apprécier)- tip: if you can add "in general" to the English sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence, you are faced with a French generality and you have to use definite articles le, la, l', or les.

2) Indefinite articles:

  • un or une in singular, des in plural
  • "je peux voir un chat et des chiens" = "I can see a/one cat and dogs" (no plural indefinite article in English).

3) Partitive articles:

  • constructed with preposition "de" + definite articles: du (contracted from de+le), de la, de l'
  • to be used with singular nouns, collective or uncountable
  • work all verbs' direct objects, except "likes dislikes" (see above)
  • mean "an undefined quantity of a mass thing", which can be material or conceptual: je mange de la viande, je respire de l'air, je prends de l'argent, je veux du travail - tip: if you can add "some" in front of the noun in the English sentence, without changing the meaning of the sentence, you are faced with a French partitive case and you have to use partitive articles du, de la, de l'.


Thanks a lot, I completely understand it now. One thing though, in the example of one cat and dogs, that wouldn't be correct in English, you would have to say "one cat and some dogs". I still get the point though.


I agree but I did not want to introduce "some" there, to not add confusion with the other "some + uncountable".


Just to clarify, "un verre d'eau" comes under the uncountable partitive article, where we use the 'de' without the definite article?


What you point to is a "noun of noun", ie like in English "a sheet of paper" or "a glass of water", the second noun is introduced by preposition de (=of) - and no article - to give further information on material, content, etc.

This case is further extended in French in phrases like "un mur de pierre" which would use "stone" as an adjective in English (a stone wall).


So it's not a use of the partitive article, alright got that. Thanks! Also are 'Je veux du travail' and 'Je veux travailler' are synonymous?


Yes, they are.

Note that "je veux un travail" = I want a job

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