The Partitive Construction

The Partitive Construction

In English, words like “some” or “any” are understood in sentences like: “Do you want coffee?” or “We have have apples and bananas.” English eliminates the need to use “some” or “any”. French, however, requires the partitive construction, which means that the words “some” or “any” must be expressed.

“Some” or “any” are represented in French by the preposition de plus the form of the definite article that agrees in gender and number of the noun it follows. Before a masculine singular noun, the expression du is used; before a feminine singular noun, de la is used; de l’ is used before a masculine or feminine singular noun which begins with a vowel or a silent h; and before a masculine or feminine plural noun, des is used.

  • Voulez-vous du cafe? – Do you want (some, any) coffee?
  • Nous avons des bananes et des pommes. – We have (some) bananas and (some) apples.

The negative requires de alone, without the article.


  • Nous avons du fromage. – We have (some) cheese.
  • Il y a des poires. – There are (some) pears.
  • Elle a des amis ici. – She has (some) friends here.


  • Nous n’avons pas de fromage. – We don’t have any cheese.
  • Il n’y a pas de poires. – There aren’t any pears.
  • Elle n’a pas d’amis ici. – She does’t have any friends here.


Have a great week, readers! Please let me know if I can help you with anything. I am happy to help.

Until next time. À bientôt !


6 thoughts on “The Partitive Construction

      • That’s so true.
        I tell you what would really help me with my French grammar.
        It’s the terms used- I recall the basics- nouns, adjectives, adverbs etc but when you start talking about definite articles, prepositions, objects, etc or anything else I start struggling to identify these in the sentence.
        How about an idiot’s guide to grammatical terms Courtney?

      • Thanks Courtney. I know a lot of my fellow French learners have pretty good vocabulary, but it is the French grammatical structure we struggle with most.

      • You’re very welcome! 🙂 I understand that completely. I will work on this topic this weekend, and hopefully it’ll help!

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