"Je bois de l'eau."

Translation:I am drinking some water.

December 30, 2012

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Ohhh, I get it.... de la/le/l' is same as un/une in this context, but for uncountables and when you mean that they're eating an unquantified amount of something (i.e. they didn't eat THE onion or ONE onion, but they ate SOME onion(s) or just they ate onion).

Correct me if I'm wrong. :-)


So does this mean if you were refering to a quantified amount of water like a water bottle where in english you might say "a water" you could potentially say "un eau?"


chump- never. Anyway, water/eau is feminine


In English it would be, "A bottle of water." To say, "A water bottle" means we are referring to the container for water, but have not specified as to the water bottle being full or empty.

We would never say, "A water" without referencing something associated with the water, a water glass, a water dam, a water heater, a water bill, etc.


The different ways to phrase a sentence with "eau" have got me quite confused. So, I'm going to try and summarize what I understand (I promise to update this post in case I gather more from other discussions). Of course, native French speaker input would be very welcome here :)

"eau" is a (feminine) mass noun, which means that it can either be modified by definite articles, or partitive articles, but not indefinite articles.

Using "eau" with "de l'" (partitive article): We use the appropriate partitive article (de l') in case we refer to "eau" without expressing any amount. E.g., "Je bois de l'eau." = "I am drinking [some] water".

Using "eau" with "de": In case we do express the amount of water, we use "de" in the sense of "of". E.g., Je bois un peu / beaucoup d'eau" = "I am drinking a little / lots of water". Another example of using only "de" is when we want to refer to something "of water". For example, "Je bois un verre d'eau".

Using "eau" with "l'" (definite article): To refer to a specific water (e.g. the water you got from the river), we modify "eau" with the definite article, "l'". E.g., "Je bois l'eau" = "I am drinking the water". Another use of the definite article is when "eau" is the direct object of a verb that expresses preference: "J'aime / deteste l'eau". However, this use of the definite article is because it is required with such verbs, not because we refer to "the water".

Lastly, "eau" may appear without any article. This is the case when it is used with "sans"/"avec". E.g., "Avec/sans eau" = "With/without water". Notice that we do not mention the amount or referring to a specific water. In this case, we'd say "Avec/sans l'eau", or "Avec/sans beaucoup d'eau", as explained above.



Yes, "une eau, des eaux" is something you can use in French.

  • A est une eau plate, mais B et C sont des eaux gazeuses.


Excellent explanation in the difference in the use of partitive articles and definite articles with mass nouns, as well as with nouns following verbs of appreciation. Merci beaucoup


why is it using de?


It's not using "de" alone, it's called a partitive. And it's used when you talk about an indefinite quantity, as "some" in English

See here: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/articles_4.htm


To say 'some' or 'any' in French, use: -"du" before a masculine word, eg Je mange du pain le matin (I have [some] bread for breakfast) -"de la" before a feminine word, eg Vous avez de la salade? (Do you have any lettuce?) -"de l'" before a singular word beginning with a vowel or silent h, eg Tu bois de l'eau? (Are you drinking [some] water?); Ma mère a acheté de l'huile (My mother bought some oil) -"de"' before a word in the plural form, eg Nous mangeons des légumes (We eat [some] vegetables) I found that on the "Bitesize" French course website, and it certainly helped me!


Does "de l'eau" mean that water is feminine (de+la+eau)? Wouldn't it be "d'eau" if it was masculine (du+eau)?


For a masculine noun beginning with "e" choose the emmental cheese for instance.

  • Je mange de l'emmental (can't say de le emmental).
  • Je mange du riz (can't say de le).

Both are masculine.

  • Je bois de l'eau (can't say de la eau).
  • Je bois de la limonade.

Both are feminine.


Why wouldnt you say d'eau. Is "water" (l'eau) masucline or feminine? Is there a case where I would use d-apostrophe? Like when it isn't a combination of de and le? I have talked to french people in which they say "d'eau" is this wrong?


blargums, for this sentence you can't say d'eau, alone. You could say, the glass is filled of water / le verre est rempli d'eau. Or, je bois un verre d'eau / I drink a glass of water.


I thought the same! But i guess no. Rule no. one is i guess to put the "l' " whenever we see word starting with vowel. So it remains "de l' " ! By the way i have no idea about the gender of water!


Someone on another thread helped me. I was confused because you say "mon eau" so I thought water was masculine. But water is feminine, it takes masculine pronoun-adjectives because it begins with a vowel and it's easier to say. So "de l'eau" = de+la+eau. But a masculine word like hotel would be "d'hôtel" = du+hôtel.



"d'hôtel" shouldn't be in your example. Everything you said is right, except the "d'hôtel" part. Because you make the confusion here between the "de" + article = meaning the partitive article, and the "de" alone as a particle, and not an article.

With a masculine word use "du", because it's "Je mange du chocolat", and if it begins with a vowel or a non-aspirated "h", use Je mange de l'emmental (it's a cheese); It's never "de" or "d' " alone, you have always the definite article. (but in "du" or "des" it's contracted inside)


Thanks for the explanation, just a little correction, it is "de l'" for feminine AND masculine. So it would be "de l'hôtel".


Exactly. But be careful "de l'hôtel" is not a partitive.

It doesn't mean "an indefinitive quantity" of hotel.

Je viens de l'hôtel = I come from the hotel.

Here, "de" is not a part of the partitive article, it's only the particle (and not the article! )

Here the meaning is"from" or "of", according to the uses, and not "some" as when you say "de l'eau".


I also can't understand the difference between " boir de l'eau" and "boir l'eau". And the same is with "manger"


"Je boir de l'eau" means "I (am) drink(ing) (some) water." "Je boir l'eau" just means "I drink water". It could mean "I am drinking all of the water (in the world!)" A teacher once explained without "de" it is like talking about the entire concept of something. "de" narrows that down to just a portion of something.



"Je boir de l'eau" is incorrect. You have to conjugate the verb. "Boir" doesn't exist, the infinitive form is "boire" = to drink.

The conjugated form is "Je bois".

You're wrong in your explanation. "Je bois l'eau" is NOT "I drink water". it's "I drink THE water". It's not "I'm drinking all of the water in the world. That's incorrect. We would say "Je bois toute l'eau (du monde)" in this case. Your teacher is wrong. Or was talking about another grammar case.


do you always have to say "l'eau" or can you also say just "eau"?


You can never say just "eau" because you always need an article in French. Super.chouette explanation is not correct.


"boir" doesn't exist.

The infinitive verb is "boire". (to drink)

Boire de l'eau = to drink some water = indefinite quantity.

Boire l'eau = to drink a definite water. For instance, I'm on a riverside, and I drink THE water (implied: of the river)


With the "l'" before eau, does that make it I am drinking some the water????? I wrote "I am drinking the water", and that was wrong...


There is no "some the water". Apart from this exercise, you could say "I am drinking THE water" (Je bois l'eau) referring to some specific water, for example. Or you could say "I am drinking (some) water" (Je bois de l'eau). For an explanation of when you use "de" in this context, see here: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/articles_4.htm


I have a question. In English, someone might ask you "is the water safe for drinking from the tap?" And in English I could respond with or without a yes, "I drink the water".

How does this sentence "I drink the water" get translated into French. The "the" is emphasised because I don't just drink any water, I am drinking the specific water from this source (in this illustration, from the tap).

Anyone can assist? Thanks!


In the exercise sentence, this water is not specific.

  • I drink the water = je bois l'eau - specific water
  • I drink (some) water = je bois de l'eau - an unknown amount of a mass


Why do we drop "suis"?


I dont exactly understand where you saw "suis". But assuming you are trying to translate "am + drinking" to "suis + boire". This would be incorrect. "bois" can stand for "drink" or "am drinking", so you don't need the "suis" to indicate "am".


By the way, "drinking" (present participle) is not "boire" (infinitive) but "buvant" (present participle). This does not change your perfectly correct explanation.


Thank you. I didnt intend to equate the infinitive 'boire' with the participle 'drinking' but my explanation does sound like that. PS: I wasn't aware of "buvant". I'm yet to reach that level in French. So thank you for adding that new word to my vocabulary. :)

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