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

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.


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


Counter example


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


Q&A

Trupti

Kwiziq community member

14 July 2018

2 replies

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. 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

16 July 2018

16/07/18

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). 

Trupti

Kwiziq community member

17 July 2018

17/07/18

Thank you Chris

Nabeel

Kwiziq community member

6 June 2018

3 replies

Magnifique positioning

why magnifique come

after noun in « endroits magnifiques »

but before noun in « magnifiques gâteaux »

Chris

Kwiziq community member

6 June 2018

6/06/18

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

-- Chris (not a native speaker). 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

8 June 2018

8/06/18

Hi Nabeel,

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

Hope this helps!

SAI

Kwiziq community member

16 June 2018

16/06/18

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

Lisa

Kwiziq community member

6 July 2017

3 replies

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

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

6 July 2017

6/07/17

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.

Maloyendra

Kwiziq community member

27 May 2018

27/05/18

Isn't this an optional rule, in that "de" is considered more elegant but "des" isn't grammatically incorrect either?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 May 2018

29/05/18

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 ! 

Michael

Kwiziq community member

24 December 2016

2 replies

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."

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

27 December 2016

27/12/16

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 !

Michael

Kwiziq community member

27 December 2016

27/12/16

Merci Aurélie. Je comprends maintenant. C'est le même chose: "I eat apples" = "I eat some apples."

Melody

Kwiziq community member

21 July 2016

3 replies

Why is magnifiques placed differently in 2 sentences?

-- relative to endoits vs. gâteaux ?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

22 July 2016

22/07/16

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 !

Michael

Kwiziq community member

24 December 2016

24/12/16

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?

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

23 September 2017

23/09/17

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?
Getting that for you now.