Using ''de / d' '' instead of 'des' in front of adjectives preceding nouns (partitive article)

Look at these sentences:

J'ai vu des endroits magnifiques.
I saw magnificent places.

Il a mangé de magnifiques gâteaux.
He ate some magnificent cakes.

Elsa mange d'excellents cookies.
Elsa eats some excellent cookies.

J'achète de beaux draps.
I buy nice sheets.

Note that when the adjective is placed BEFORE a plural noun, the partitive article des (some) becomes de (or d' in front of a vowel or mute h). 

ATTENTION:
This rule doesn't apply when des is the contraction of "de + les" (= of/from/to the) :

J'ai acheté de nouvelles bottes.
I bought [some] new boots.

BUT

Je suis jalouse des nouvelles bottes que tu as achetées.
I'm jealous of the new boots you bought.

Not sure which adjectives tend to go BEFORE the noun?

Then see Short and common adjectives that go BEFORE nouns (adjective position) and Other adjectives that go BEFORE nouns

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

J'ai acheté de nouvelles bottes.
I bought [some] new boots.


J'ai vu des endroits magnifiques.
I saw magnificent places.


Elsa mange d'excellents cookies.
Elsa eats some excellent cookies.


J'achète de beaux draps.
I buy nice sheets.


Il a mangé de magnifiques gâteaux.
He ate some magnificent cakes.


Counter example


Je suis jalouse des nouvelles bottes que tu as achetées.
I'm jealous of the new boots you bought.


Q&A Forum 11 questions, 20 answers

some new boots

Sorry, I didn't read the explanation carefully. It's all confusing!!

Asked 2 weeks ago

Here des means of some boots. It’s a preposition here. Des here does not mean “some”.

some new boots

Sorry, I didn't read the explanation carefully. It's all confusing!!

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new(some) boots

To my American mind, if I say I bought new boots it does not mean some new boots. It means I bought a pair of new boots, not some. In order to buy some boots I would have to buy 2 or more pairs of boots, unusual. Sometimes your examples are not helpful for me to know the difference in French. Merci

Asked 2 weeks ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Sandra,

If in English you bought (some - a pair of ) new boots, the French equivalent is 'des bottes' which become 'de nouvelles bottes' because the adjective precedes the noun and

des becomes de .

Hope this is clearer now..

new(some) boots

To my American mind, if I say I bought new boots it does not mean some new boots. It means I bought a pair of new boots, not some. In order to buy some boots I would have to buy 2 or more pairs of boots, unusual. Sometimes your examples are not helpful for me to know the difference in French. Merci

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MayB1

Bangs adjectives

I don't want to sound dumb, but are the adjectives you are using (excellent, magnifique) BAGS adjectives? Because I see you place them in front of the verb, when only BAGS adjectives do that, and I previously thought the only BAGS adjectives in the 'goodness' section were 'mauvais(e), bon(ne), meilleur(e), and gentil(le).' Thanks, May.

Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi May,

To me,  'magnigfique' does fit into the B and 'excellent' into the G of that classification but these two can be placed before or after the noun without any change in meaning, so they are pretty special ...

Hope this helps!

Bangs adjectives

I don't want to sound dumb, but are the adjectives you are using (excellent, magnifique) BAGS adjectives? Because I see you place them in front of the verb, when only BAGS adjectives do that, and I previously thought the only BAGS adjectives in the 'goodness' section were 'mauvais(e), bon(ne), meilleur(e), and gentil(le).' Thanks, May.

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"Plural" not in the title

The wording in the article implies that this rule only applies to plural nouns/adjectives, but the title does not state that. Could "plural" be added to the title as well to match?

Asked 5 months ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Blake !

The article "des" is only used with plural nouns, hence its contraction applying to only plural cases :)

"Plural" not in the title

The wording in the article implies that this rule only applies to plural nouns/adjectives, but the title does not state that. Could "plural" be added to the title as well to match?

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RobinA2

how does "de" mean "at"?

Why does the de in Je regarde de belles collines mean at?
Asked 6 months ago

Regarder means "to look at".

Je regarde la maison. -- I look at the house.
Je regarde de belles collines. -- I look at beautiful hills.

It isn't "de" that means "at". The "at" is part of the verb "regarder".

But, strictly speaking, the sentence:

Je regarde des collines is ambiguous. It can mean "I look at hills" as well as "I look from hills".

how does "de" mean "at"?

Why does the de in Je regarde de belles collines mean at?

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confusion on ‘j’achète de beaux draps?’

Hi guys, just a bit confused on that example 

so the rule is that:adjective is placed BEFORE a plural noun, 

so in that example, obviously ‘beaux’ is placed before a plural noun, so why doesn’t it mean ‘I buy SOME nice sheets’ instead of I buy nice sheets?

thanks!

Asked 8 months ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

...de beaux draps can be translated as "some nice sheets" or "nice sheets". Two versions in English for the same French sentence.

There is not a one-to-one correspondence between every possible sentence in English to every possible sentence in French. Most of the time, there are several ways to express something in the other language. That's why it is so important to force yourself to think in French rather than cling to translating word for word.

confusion on ‘j’achète de beaux draps?’

Hi guys, just a bit confused on that example 

so the rule is that:adjective is placed BEFORE a plural noun, 

so in that example, obviously ‘beaux’ is placed before a plural noun, so why doesn’t it mean ‘I buy SOME nice sheets’ instead of I buy nice sheets?

thanks!

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Adjectif+ noun and des

Bon jour,

I still don't understand why des changes to de or d' . If it's a vowel it's fine but adjectif+ noun ,why in this case . Why des changes ,how does it make a difference to the sentence. 

In case of partitive article ,while doing negation des changes to de as there is no quantity. That's understandable. 

What's the rule here ,as it's article des. 

Thank you. 

Asked 11 months ago

The rule is simply this: use de imstead of des when there is an adjective betwixt it and the noun. That's all.

J'avais de grandes voitures. -- I had big cars.

J'avais des voitures. -- I had cars. 

-- Chris. (Sorry for the not very imaginative examples). 

Thank you Chris

Adjectif+ noun and des

Bon jour,

I still don't understand why des changes to de or d' . If it's a vowel it's fine but adjectif+ noun ,why in this case . Why des changes ,how does it make a difference to the sentence. 

In case of partitive article ,while doing negation des changes to de as there is no quantity. That's understandable. 

What's the rule here ,as it's article des. 

Thank you. 

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Magnifique positioning

why magnifique come

after noun in « endroits magnifiques »

but before noun in « magnifiques gâteaux »

Asked 0 years ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Nabeel,

Magnifique is one adjective that can be used before or after the noun but without its meaning being affected. 

Hope this helps!

Usually magnifique is placed after the noun but it may also come first for emphasis. 

-- Chris (not a native speaker). 

SAIA2
Are there such adjectives which can be used before & after the nouns?

Magnifique positioning

why magnifique come

after noun in « endroits magnifiques »

but before noun in « magnifiques gâteaux »

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I don't understand why it isn't d'endroits magnifiques then?

Asked 11 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Maloyendra !

Actually, it's one of these cases where although many French people make that mistake, it is indeed grammatically incorrect to use "des" in this context:

J'ai vu des de magnifiques endroits.

Bonne journée ! 

LauraKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Lisa, The rule is that des becomes de in front of an adjective + noun. Endroits magnifiques is a noun + adjective, so des remains des.
Isn't this an optional rule, in that "de" is considered more elegant but "des" isn't grammatically incorrect either?

I don't understand why it isn't d'endroits magnifiques then?

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Shouldn't "J'ai vu des endroits magnifiques" translate as "I've seen some magnificient places?"

Here "des" precedes the noun, not an adjective, and therefore it does not become "de" or "d'" but it is still the partitive indefinite article "some."
Asked 6 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Michael ! In French, "des" is both the partitive "some", but also the plural form of "un/une" (a), which in English would be a zero article: I eat apples = I eat some apples = "Je mange des pommes." I hope that's helpful! Bonnes Fêtes et à bientôt !
Merci Aurélie. Je comprends maintenant. C'est le même chose: "I eat apples" = "I eat some apples."

Shouldn't "J'ai vu des endroits magnifiques" translate as "I've seen some magnificient places?"

Here "des" precedes the noun, not an adjective, and therefore it does not become "de" or "d'" but it is still the partitive indefinite article "some."

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Why is magnifiques placed differently in 2 sentences?

-- relative to endoits vs. gâteaux ?
Asked 11 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Melody ! The regular rule is to place "long" adjectives (3 or more syllables) AFTER the noun. However, they can also be placed BEFORE when expressing an "affective", subjective opinion. Therefore, adjectives such as "magnifique", "délicieux", "énorme"... can be used in either position. I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
Can't get my FR keyboard to stay French when I click here. Anyway, Tres complique! So the BAGS (adjectives of Beauty, Age, Goodness or Size precede the noun) rule gets "overruled" by the 3-syllable rule which gets overruled by the "'affective', subjective opinion" rule? What is "affective", subjective? Aren't all opinions subjective?
Sorry, clumsy fingers down voted instead of upvoted. Loved your concise summary, but am puzzled by the affective bit of affective subjective. What does it mean anyone?

Why is magnifiques placed differently in 2 sentences?

-- relative to endoits vs. gâteaux ?

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Getting that for you now.