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.
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Until next time. À bientôt !