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 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.


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


Counter example


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


Q&A Forum 12 questions, 21 answers

XineB1Kwiziq community member

I'm so confused...

Okay, so I've just climbed up from A2 but this:

Je suis jalouse des nouvelles bottes que tu as achetées.

looks wrong to me.  Why do I have achetées with bottes with avoir?  

Asked 2 months ago
ŁukaszA1Kwiziq community memberCorrect answer

"Acheter" uses a direct object, which in this phrase appears before the verb (noouvelles bottes). I think that's the case of Special cases when the past participle agrees (in number & gender) when used with 'avoir' in Le Passé Composé

That's a B2 topic and from what I've heard even the French get that wrong sometimes. :)

I'm so confused...

Okay, so I've just climbed up from A2 but this:

Je suis jalouse des nouvelles bottes que tu as achetées.

looks wrong to me.  Why do I have achetées with bottes with avoir?  

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

SandraB2Kwiziq community member

some new boots

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

Asked 5 months ago
HimanshuA1Kwiziq community member

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!!

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

SandraB2Kwiziq community member

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 5 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect 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

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

MayB1Kwiziq community member

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 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi May,

To me,  'magnifique' 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.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

BlakeC1Kwiziq community member

"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 10 months ago
AurélieKwiziq team member

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?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

RobinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

how does "de" mean "at"?

Why does the de in Je regarde de belles collines mean at?
Asked 11 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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".

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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".

Robin asked:View original

how does "de" mean "at"?

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

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

NoorA0Kwiziq community member

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 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct 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!

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

TruptiA1Kwiziq community member

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 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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). 

TruptiA1Kwiziq community member
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. 

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

NabeelC1Kwiziq community member

Magnifique positioning

why magnifique come

after noun in « endroits magnifiques »

but before noun in « magnifiques gâteaux »

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect 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!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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

-- Chris (not a native speaker). 

SAIA2Kwiziq community member
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 »

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

LisaB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect 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 team member
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.
MaloyendraB1Kwiziq community member
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?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 !
MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
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."

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Why is magnifiques placed differently in 2 sentences?

-- relative to endoits vs. gâteaux ?
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 !
MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
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?
JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
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 ?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Clever stuff underway!