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  5. "Elles écrivent de longues le…

"Elles écrivent de longues lettres."

Translation:They write long letters.

December 29, 2012



Why isn't this 'des longues lettres?'


In front of an adjective, "des" becomes "de"


But why? I really find this change between de and des confusing. When I think it is about several things/persons I use des. Sometimes it is correct and sometimes it is not. I haven't yet figured out the pattern though.


"des" becomes "de":

  • in front of an adjective: des lettres longues / de longues lettres

  • with an expression of quantity: peu de, autant de, plus de, beaucoup de.....

  • in a negative sentence: ne... pas, ne... plus, ne... jamais: ils n'écrivent pas de lettre(s)

  • with verbs constructed with preposition "de": je parle de lettres, as the plural of je parle d'une lettre (of a letter / of letters)


Do these rules also apply for when "de la" or "du" become "de"?

For example, I notice that the rule regarding expression of quantity applies to water. "Je veux de l'eau" becomes "Je veux un peu d'eau", but I'm not sure if it can be generalized to all cases.


Yes, they do, except that mass nouns are not used in plural, so there is no case where a partitive (du, de la) can be placed before a plural adjective.

  • un peu d'eau
  • je ne veux pas d'eau
  • j'ai besoin d'eau


How do you tell de longue lettre from de longues lettres?


de longue lettre does not work anyway, in singular it would be : une longue lettre


If I can use 'de' in front plural adjectives, does it mean I can put all adjectives before nouns like in English?


No, the rule of placement of the adjective does not change in plural:

une lettre bleue -> des lettres bleues

une longue lettre -> de longues lettres


I still don't understand the word order in "une longue lettre" - why not "une lettre longue"? Is it because "longue" would fall under "size" in the BANGS-acronym?


That's it, yes.


What is the bangs acronym?


Would "deux longues lettres" be a correct expression and should I be able to hear the difference between "de" and "deux"?


"Deux longues lettres" is grammatically correct.

You should hear the difference in the sound of "deux" vs "de" here:




Is there any auditory clue that we are referring to multiple letters? Several people can conceivably compose one letter (I believe there were sentences like that in lower level lessons.)


One letter = Une lettre.


Me again. It sounds like she is pronouncing "elles" as ellows. Is this correct?


Yes, there is a schwa (sounding "uh") that some feel necessary to add and that would be required in poetry.

It is not bad pronunciation but on the contrary a sign of clear enunciation.



No complaints from me. I wish she enunciated everything that clearly. i still can't tell the difference between "ni" & "me" when she is speaking. Merci beaucoup


The audio is very muddy. Could not hear the v in écrivent and there was no liason after "elles," which would have allowed me to intuit the v.


Why does the adjective (longues) come before the noun? Is it like grand and petit because it is a description of size or does it follow a different rule?


"Long, longue" is a Size adjective of which natural placement is before the noun. However, if you come across "une robe longue" or "une jupe longue", they are set expressions used in the clothing industry.


Why is "une longue lettre" wrong?


"De longues lettres" is the plural of "une longue lettre". In dictation, you should hear "de" as significantly different from "une".

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