"We have ducks."

Translation:Nous avons des canards.

December 29, 2012



If ducks are countable, then why is "des" being used. I thought "des" is only used with un-countable things.

December 29, 2012


Indeed, ducks are countable, but not counted. it means "a certain number of ducks" (indefinite article "des")

December 29, 2012


okay, so why do we have to use des? Can't it be just "canards" for ducks plural instead of "des canards"?

December 8, 2015


"des" is the plural indefinite article that English does not have; it is the plural form of "un" or "une"

It is mandatory to mean "more than one".

December 8, 2015


So basically it is one of those things are really tricky to native english speakers because such a rule doesn't exist in english

May 20, 2016


Please can I say nous ont des canards

February 19, 2019


I think "De/Du/Des" = "some". It's not always true I think, but it helps.

October 23, 2013


Not really:

"de" is a preposition

"du" is the contraction of preposition "de" + definite article "le" and it is a partitive article, feminine "de la" - no plural since it is used exclusively with singular words to mean "an undefined quantity of a non countable thing"

"des" is an indefinite article, plural of "un" or "une"

October 23, 2013


no, we use "des" with countable and uncountable things in french: we can say "des eaux, des huiles...." (uncountable things in english) as we can say "des canards, des robes.." (countable things )

January 14, 2013


Question for a native speaker: if a single duck is ground up in a blender and we pour some of it into a cup, can we then say "Nous avons du canard?" A graphic example can help with memory; if the rule is "don't say 'du' unless you mean to grind that duck up" then it'll be a lot easier to remember. (For me, anyway.)

March 3, 2014


Your scenario is extremely creative! more simply:

Q: what do we have for dinner? = qu'est-ce qu'on a pour le dîner ? A: we have (some) duck! = nous avons du canard ! (no need to grind it, just carefully cut out a lovely piece of it)

March 4, 2014


Thanks! So let's see if I can make a general rule. Please tell me if this is correct.

de+la/le (that is, de + a singular article) means "some" and it treats the noun as a thing that can be sliced, carved, poured, etc. A thing we might measure in grams or liters. (We linguists would say it conceptualizes the noun as a mass noun.)

de+les (de + the plural article) also means "some" but it treats the noun as a uniform object that we count, not measure. (We conceptualize the noun as a count noun.)

I know de+le becomes du and de+les becomes des, but it helps me to think of them as de+le/la vs. de+les for the purpose of remembering the rule.

So duck is a count noun (and we say "des canards") when we're thinking of the entire, indivisible duck, but it becomes a mass noun (and we say "du canard") when we're carving it up for dinner. (Or pouring it out of a blender.)

Likewise, sugar is a mass noun, and we say "du sucre") when we're asking if someone wants some for their coffee. But if I've got a handful of little packages of sugar, I should be able to say "des sucres" and someone should be able to answer that he wants two. (In English I can say "How many sugars do you want?")

Without packaging or grinding, though, all nouns are either "naturally" count nouns or naturally mass nouns. That just has to be learned, but I don't think it's hard. That matters when we want to translate the English without an article. E.g. "ducks eat sugar" which (I think) should be "Les canards mange le sucre."

For a count noun, if we want to talk about all of it in the whole world, we use the plural, les. For a mass noun, we use le/la. This is ambiguous, of course, because it also might mean "the ducks are eating the sugar" but that's okay.

So let's see if I can put all of this together. If I ask (out of the blue) "Oú est les canards?" it sounds like I'm asking where ducks (in general) live. Someone might answer "Dans l'eau" (in the water).

But if I'm visiting someone's farm, he might say "Nous avons des canards," and that clearly means "we have (some) ducks." At that point, if I ask "Oú est les canards?" then I'm clearly asking about the ducks he just spoke about--not about the whereabouts of every duck in the world. The context eliminates the ambiguity.

Finally, if we go shoot a few and cook them, I should be able to say "Nous avons du canard" if we're at the dinner table and I'm pointing at a dish.

Does that all make sense? Or am I still missing something?

March 4, 2014


1) preposition "de" + singular definite article: du (masc) or de la (fem) or de l’ (masc or fem, in front of a noun starting with a vowel or a non aspirate H) + singular noun mean « an undefined quantity of an uncountable thing (=mass noun)». The « thing » can be material or conceptual : I want love = je veux de l'amour

2) "des" can be two distinct determiners:

  • indefinite article, plural of "un/une": je veux une pomme / des pommes

  • contraction of de+les when the verb is constructed with preposition "de" and the noun represents something specific: je parle des canards (I speak about the ducks)

3) veux-tu du sucre ? (do you want some sugar?) or veux-tu des sucres (more than one sugar lump) -> yes, you are right.

4) countable and uncountable nouns are massively the same in both languages. However, you will have to accept that this rule has exceptions: furniture is uncountable in English and countable in French: un meuble, des meubles (as pieces of furniture).

5) French generalities are difficult to grasp:

  • "les canards sont des oiseaux" (ducks are birds) is a universal truth. In that case, the definite article is required for ducks, which is plural.

  • "le vin peut être rouge, rosé ou blanc" works as a generality as well, and in singular (mass noun).

  • appreciation verbs (aimer, adorer, préférer, apprécier, haïr, détester) naturally introduce generalities: j'aime le vin, je déteste les légumes, je préfère la viande...

6) If you use definite article "the" in English, you can be certain that the French will also use its definite articles:

  • the teacher talks to his students = le professeur parle à ses élèves

  • where are the ducks? = où sont les canards ? = the ones we mentioned before.

7) You rarely eat a whole duck, so whether or not you say "some", the French will be "du" (except with appreciation verbs, tough, see above).

  • Have some duck! = prends du canard !

  • Is it duck in that dish? = Est-ce du canard dans ce plat ?

March 4, 2014


Wait, I grab sthg to drink and I come back...

March 4, 2014


Mais alors! C'est un peu compliqué mais maintenant je comprends

March 19, 2014


Why not les canards?

December 23, 2013


Singular: we have a duck = nous avons un canard

Plural: we have ducks = nous avons des canards

December 23, 2013


In french you always have to use an article in front of nouns. Where we in English would've said I've got DUCKS, they must say I've got OF DUCKS. That's the way it works.

December 27, 2013


Actually "des" translates more to "some" while "de" is "of." Technically the sentence needs to be "I've got some ducks."

February 1, 2015

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When trying to explain something from another language using English, it is terribly misleading to do it in a way that is incorrect. That is to say, there is no "of ducks". It is that "des canards" is the plural of "un canard". English does not have a plural for "a", so they use "des".

  • un homme, des hommes = a man, men (plural, but neither specific nor counted)
May 11, 2018


Shoot... we only have a Hulk... we are kind of boned now. xD

January 15, 2019
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