Using 'des' as a partitive article

BelindaB2Kwiziq community member

Using 'des' as a partitive article

I'm continually confused about using des!

So, it's the plural of un/une (countable things). However it also seems to be used as a partitive article - as in the example "Tu veux des epinards?" (Do you want (some) spinach (uncountable thing)). Is epinards plural, and hence the use of des???

Any and all help very much appreciated!

Belinda

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Belinda, 

Using partitives in French always causes problems as they are often inexistant in English. 

If you think of spinach or rice or pasta or mashed potato or jam you can have a serving of each but you cannot divide them into single units, so you will use the partitive du, de la, des to ask - 

Tu veux du riz, des pâtes , des épinards ou de la purée ? = Do you want rice, pasta, spinach or some mash?
Tu veux de la confiture ou du miel ? = Do you want jam or honey?

But if you spent a day baking you might say -

J'ai fait des tartes hierI made some tarts yesterday 

des here is an indefinite article meaning a number of tarts.

but you would use the partitive 'des' to say 

Vous voulez de la tarte ? Do you want some tart?

meaning a part of the tart.

Hope this helps!

 

 

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Belinda

Spinach is a mass noun and "des" in this case is a true partitive.

There are about eight of these mass nouns that will take "des" as partitive.

https://youtu.be/KzmjeibKX_I

Hope this helps

Jim

GreggA2Kwiziq community member

I am similarly confused, and have Belinda's same question.  Neither of the answers address her direct question, is it «des épinards» because «épinards» is plural?  Furthermore, to a novice like me, it does not look like the «de la tarte» example uses «des», it uses «de la».  In the lesson, «des» is not listed as an option for uncountable things.  The only options listed were, «du, de la, and d'l».  Is the lesson incomplete?  Furthermore, it is not clear what a "true partitive" is, versus some other partitive?

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

@ Gregg

Hi Gregg,

I understand your frustration.

When I use the term "true" partitive I am making reference to mass nouns.

What is a mass noun?

Cinders (from fire), pasta, spinach, fog, love, and so on   ----  these nouns cannot be counted.

So we can only measure "some".

Perhaps it would help you to revisit noun categories to improve your understanding?

Bonne continuation

Jim

GreggA2Kwiziq community member

@Jim, thank you for the reply.  I think that I understand that «épinards» is a mass noun, and I think I understand what a mass noun is--something that is not countable.  I also understand that the lesson says countable nouns use «des», and uncountable nouns use «du, de la, or d'».  The example uses «des» for an uncountable noun which appears to contradict the lesson.  I am prepared to accept that «des épinards» is correct, however, that suggests the lessen is wrong or there is a nuance that the lesson does not address, i.e. the lesson is incomplete.  I am trying to understand that nuance.  Belinda's suggestion is that it could be because «épinards» appears plural is a good one, but no one has confirmed or denied her suggestion.

SanchitaA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I am also curious about why "des" was used for «des épinards»

Even from Cecile's answer, where she says:

"If you think of spinach or rice or pasta or mashed potato or jam you can have a serving of each but you cannot divide them into single units, so you will use the partitive du, de la, des to ask - "

However the lesson suggests using "du, de la or de l' " when discussing uncountable things. There is no mention of "des" in this situation, which is what I think Gregg and I are confused about. 

Is it specifically because épinards is plural, and thus you use "des"?

ChrystalA2Kwiziq community member

Possibly the lesson has been updated but des is listed as an option for uncountable things.

However, to answer the question, yes, des is used with epinards because it is a mass noun. If you think of it in English, you always think of spinach as more than just 1 leaf.

Hope this helps!

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Chrystal, 

You beat me to it ! I was going to answer Sanchita to say that we have added 'des' to the uncountables table and updated the lesson.

Hope this clarifies matters ...

Using 'des' as a partitive article

I'm continually confused about using des!

So, it's the plural of un/une (countable things). However it also seems to be used as a partitive article - as in the example "Tu veux des epinards?" (Do you want (some) spinach (uncountable thing)). Is epinards plural, and hence the use of des???

Any and all help very much appreciated!

Belinda

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