Countable and Uncounable Nouns; and Definite Articles

The partitive article is used for unspecified amounts of uncountable nouns. In English, it can translate to “some.”  Du is a contraction of de + le.

Gender Partitive Article Example
Masculine du Je mange du poisson. — I am eating fish.
Feminine de la Je mange de la viande. — I am eating meat.
Elided Masc. de l’ Je mange de l’ananas. — I am eating pineapple.
Elided Fem. de l’ Je bois de l’eau. — I am drinking water.

Nouns almost never appear without articles in French, so articles must be repeated in serial lists.

  • Il cuisine du poisson et de la viande — He cooks fish and meat.

Countable nouns:

  • Je lis un livre. — I am reading a book.
  • Je lis le livre. — I am reading the book.
  • Je lis les livres. — I am reading the books.
  • Nous avons un livre.
  • Nous avons le livre.
  • Nous avons les livres.

Uncountable nouns:

  • Je bois du lait. — I am drinking [some] milk.
  • Je bois le lait. — I am drinking the milk.

Indefinite Article with Uncountable nouns.

  • Le poisson est rouge. — The fish is red.
  • Je mange du poisson. — I eat [some] fish.
  • Le vin est blanc. — The wine is white.
  • Je bois du vin rouge ou blanc. — I drink red or white wine.
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