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Partitive articles

The partitive articles are du (masculine singular), de la (feminine singular), and des (masculine, feminine plural). The partitive article agrees in number and (for the singular forms) in gender with the nouns they modify (see Nouns):

du vin
de la glace
des épinards

The partitive is used to refer to objects, people, and events which have not been clearly defined by the speaker or the context. The nouns which they modify are generally not countable nouns (unlike those modified by the indefinite article); instead, the partitive usually indicates an undetermined quantity. It is frequently used after verbs expressing possession or consumption.

Est-ce que tu as de la patience? (Do you have patience?)
Nous allons acheter du lait. (We’re going to buy some milk.)

Note: after expressions of quantity, the partitive is usually reduced to de:

Les étudiants achètent beaucoup de pâtisseries. (Students buy a lot of pastries.)
Aujourd’hui, les gens ont plus d’activités qu’avant. (Today people have more activities than before.)

However, if the quantified noun is modified by an adjective or by a relative clause, then the partitive remains:

Elle a pris une tasse du café que j’ai préparé. (She took a cup of the coffee I prepared.)

Note: Elegant French reduces des to de when it precedes a plural adjective preceding a noun:

Ils ont fait de beaux dessins. (They did some beautiful drawings.)

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