Partitive Articles

Definitive: A partitive article consists of the preposition de followed by a definite article (du, de la). It is frequently used before a singular noun that represents something that can be divided into smaller parts like liquids, wood, food, etc.

Je bois du vin rouge pour le dner. Marie boit de la bire.
I drink red wine during dinner. Mary drinks beer.

Coupez nous du bois pour le feu.
Cut us some wood for the campfire.
  • The partitive article indicates an unknown quantity of something, usually food or drink. It is often omitted in English.
    Avez-vous bu du th ?
    Did you drink some tea?

    J'ai mang de la salade hier
    I ate salad yesterday.

    Nous allons prendre de la glace We're going to have some ice cream.
  • Partitive article vs Definite article
    The partitive is usually used when discussing eating or drinking, because one normally only eats some butter, cheese, etc., not all of it. If you want to say that you eat all of something, use the definite article:
    J'ai mang du gteau
    I ate some cake (one piece).

    J'ai mang le gteau
    I ate the cake (the whole thing).
  • Partitive article vs Indefinite article
    The partitive indicates that the quantity is unknown or uncountable. When the quantity is known/countable, use the indefinite article (or a number):
    Il a mang de la tarte
    He ate some pie.

    Il a prpar une tarte
    He made a pie.
  • After adverbs of quantity, de is used instead of the partitive article.
    Il y a beaucoup de th
    There is a lot of tea.

    J'ai moins de glace que Carlos
    I have less ice cream than Carlos.
  • In a negative construction, the partitive article changes to de, meaning any:
    J'ai mang de la soupe
    Je n'ai pas mang de soupe.

    I ate some soup
    I didn't eat any soup.

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