Using du, de la, de l', des to express some or any (partitive articles)

Look at how to say some (or any in questions) in French: 

Tu veux du café?
Do you want some coffee?

Je mets de la confiture sur ma tartine.
I put (some) jam on my toast.

Tu as de l'argent?
Do you have (any) money?

Tu veux des pommes de terre?
Do you want some potatoes?

Est-ce que tu as de la farine?
Do you have any flour?

When things are countable (dogs, cars etc.) and you want to say some, you use des.
 
E.g.   Il y a des chiens.            
        There are some dogs.
        There are dogs.
 
Notice how in English you can omit the some: NOT in French! See Plurals of the and a = les and des (articles).
 
However, with uncountable things, we use du, de la, de l' to say some, as such:

Feminine noun la confiture de la
Je mange de la confiture.
(I eat some jam.)

Masculine noun le pain du

Il achète du pain.
(He buys some bread.)

Noun starting with a vowel
or mute h

l'huile de l'
Tu achètes de l'huile.
(You buy some oil.)

 

Note that some words can be both countable and not countable, for example chocolat, can mean chocolate (in general) or chocolates (individual sweets). Depending on which it is, use the correct article, like this:

J'ai des chocolats dans ma poche. (I have some chocolates in my pockets.)
Je veux du chocolat tout de suite. (I want some chocolate right now.) 
ATTENTION: partitive articles behave differently in negative sentences (ne...pas) See the related lesson: Du, de la, de l', des all become de or d' in negative sentences (partitive articles).
Grammar jargon: Names for uncountable things like milk are sometimes called mass nouns as well as uncountable nouns
Partitive articlesdu, de la, & de l' (some/any) are used with mass nouns. Definite articles (le, la, l', les) and indefinite articles (un/une/des) are used with countable nouns.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Tu veux des pommes de terre?
Do you want some potatoes?


Tu as de l'argent?
Do you have (any) money?


Je mets de la confiture sur ma tartine.
I put (some) jam on my toast.


Est-ce que tu as de la farine?
Do you have any flour?



=


Tu veux du café?
Do you want some coffee?


Q&A Forum 23 questions, 58 answers

des/les

Could you say:

Il y a les chiens... to say there are dogs

and then say il y a des chiens... to say there are some dogs?

Asked 3 weeks ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Melissa,

There are dogs or

There are some dogs

is both 

Il y a des chiens , in French

'some' is often omitted in English but you cannot do this in French.

Hope this helps!

 

des/les

Could you say:

Il y a les chiens... to say there are dogs

and then say il y a des chiens... to say there are some dogs?

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je ne compre, nd pas quand on utiliser les articles différences, s'il vous plait tu m'aide

Asked 1 month ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

If you are referring to an unspecified quantitiy of something (in English one would sometimes use "some" in these cases), you use the article:

Je voudrais du thé, s'il vous plaît. -- I would like (some) tea, please.
Il boit de l'eau. -- He is drinking (some) water.

If you refer to a quantity (nothing being also a quantity in this case), you just use de:

Je voudrais une tasse de thé. -- I would like a cup of tea.
Il ne boit pas d'eau. -- He doesn't drink water.

It helps if you can ask specific, focused questions, otherwise it is difficult to answer without simply repeating what's been said in the lesson.

when you are talking about food & drinks, you will use them regularly on daily basis to express your activities like:

Qu'est ce que tu manges?

je mange de la viande.

je ne compre, nd pas quand on utiliser les articles différences, s'il vous plait tu m'aide

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trois litres d'eau or trois litres de l'eau? which is correct and why, I am so confused on this

Asked 1 month ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

It should be trois litres d'eau.

The rule is -- in a nutshell -- that whenever you specify a quantity of something, you drop the article and only have "de". Note, though, that "nothing" is also considered a specific quantity.

J'ai du lait dans le frigo. -- I have some milk in the fridge. Je n'ai plus de lait dans le frigo. -- I have no mor milk in the fridge.

That makes sense to me. Thank you so much.

trois litres d'eau or trois litres de l'eau? which is correct and why, I am so confused on this

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Ok, in the examples on non-countable items, the English translation uses "some". E.g. Il achete du pain. He buys some bread. Similar question in the

Similar question in the quiz (instead a female buying coffee), but when I chose the "some" option (she buys some coffee), I was not granted the score. That's contradictory and confusing. Which is it? With the "some", or without?

Asked 2 months ago
AlanC1Correct answer

They are both possible - you have to select both options to be marked correct. 

Normally there is a hint that 1 or more answers can be correct, but perhaps it was missing in this question. However, any time you have to select answers by ticking a checkbox next to them, you can assume that more than one answer could be correct - and usually there will be more than one.

FYI: that type of answers guide you to be able to convert your thoughts as English speaker to french easily (because you might say any of these two phrases in English which leads you to the same french phrase.

Ok, in the examples on non-countable items, the English translation uses "some". E.g. Il achete du pain. He buys some bread. Similar question in the

Similar question in the quiz (instead a female buying coffee), but when I chose the "some" option (she buys some coffee), I was not granted the score. That's contradictory and confusing. Which is it? With the "some", or without?

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This quiz is a bit baffling.

You point out that in English we don't tend to use the 'some' that is necessary in French, but then in your examples, you translate all the sentences using some/any. eg 'I eat some jam',  'he buys some bread', 'do you want some potatoes?' etc. In the quiz we are not told we can choose multiple answers so going by the law of averages we assume that 'Jane eats some ice cream' must be the correct answer where in fact you then say that is only 'nearly' right and 'Jane eats ice cream' is what you want. I would have chosen the right answer had you not persistently translated your examples with 'some'! Perhaps you should either bracket all the 'somes' or allow for both answers  to be right?

Asked 3 months ago

I agree. You can use some or omit it in English, it makes no difference to the meaning. Both answers are right.

CécileKwiziq language super star

Hi Jane, 

Can you re-post this using the ‘Report it’  button on your Correction Board as it will link directly to the quiz you are referring to and makes it easier to answer your query.

Merci d’avance!

Sorry I can't see a 'Report it ' button anywhere!

CécileKwiziq language super star

You may have to do that particular quiz again...

Exactly!

This quiz is a bit baffling.

You point out that in English we don't tend to use the 'some' that is necessary in French, but then in your examples, you translate all the sentences using some/any. eg 'I eat some jam',  'he buys some bread', 'do you want some potatoes?' etc. In the quiz we are not told we can choose multiple answers so going by the law of averages we assume that 'Jane eats some ice cream' must be the correct answer where in fact you then say that is only 'nearly' right and 'Jane eats ice cream' is what you want. I would have chosen the right answer had you not persistently translated your examples with 'some'! Perhaps you should either bracket all the 'somes' or allow for both answers  to be right?

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Combien des enfants avez vous

Asked 3 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Abuduldurakoroma,

Combien d’enfants avez-vous?

Combien des enfants avez vous

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Avez vous du fromage

Asked 3 months ago
JimC1

Avez-vous du fromage     >  Do you have any (some) cheese?

Non,je n'ai pas de fromage

Non, je n'en ai pas. -- No, I have none.Non, je n'ai pas de fromage. -- No I have no cheese.

Avez vous du fromage

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Why is he second answer incorrect?

Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super star

Which second answer Christine?

Hi Cecile, 

I do not remember which question it was but when I got the results of one of the tests it was the same as my answer which had been marked incorrect!

CécileKwiziq language super star

Hi Christine, 

If this refers to a quiz, you need to use the 'Report it' button in your Correction Board as it links directly to the specific quiz and makes it easier for us to answer you...

This is too vague I am afraid.

Why is he second answer incorrect?

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How do you select more than one answer?

Asked 5 months ago

If a question can accept more than 1 answer there will be a checkbox beside each possibility/response; you check/tick the box(es) besides the answer(s) you believe are correct.

My question relates to the 2-question quiz, where there is a drop-down box, and as far as I can see, no way to choose 2 answers--although there was more than 1 correct answer.

How do you select more than one answer?

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you said that we use des only with countable nouns, does that means that uncountable nouns are treated as singular in french ?

Asked 10 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Renwa,

You will use du, de la, de l' (some) for uncountable nouns which are singular articles: 

J'ai de la confiture d'abricot, si vous préférez? = I have some apricot jam if you prefer?

Il y a du bon chocolat dans le placard. = There is some good chocolate in the cupboard.

Nous avons de l'argent à changer en arrivant. We have some money to change on arrival.

Hope this helps!

What about "des fruits"? is "fruits" here countable or uncountable? 
CécileKwiziq language super star

That's an interesting question June...

In French fruit is very countable -

We say for instance:

"Tu veux un fruit?"  which would translate in English as, "Do you want a piece of fruit"

or

J'ai des fruits comme dessert I have (some) fruit for dessert

Hope this helps!

you said that we use des only with countable nouns, does that means that uncountable nouns are treated as singular in french ?

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de l'argent ou d'argent?

what's the differnece between de l'argent ou d'argent?

and how to use them? thank you!

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Xuan,

In the lesson de l'argent can mean 'some' or 'any'. e.g.

J'ai de l'argent à te donner =I have some money to give you

Vous avez de l'argent en Euros? Do you have any money in Euros?

In what context have you seen 'd'argent'?

Normally when argent means 'silver' , we will use 'en',

i.e. Elle a un beau collier en argent= She had a pretty silver necklace.

Hope this helps!

 

Or in J'ai peu d'argent.-- I have little money.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Hi Cécile!

thanks for your reply! it's helpful for me.

somme d'argent

jeux d'argent

they are from google translation. 

thanks again!

CécileKwiziq language super star

Of course as in,

beaucoup d'argent ( a lot of money)pas d'argent (no money)

Not particular to 'argent' ...

Hola me llamo pedro y quiero saber como se dice "fea" en frances 

Fille- you mean girl

Or fils- son?

de l'argent ou d'argent?

what's the differnece between de l'argent ou d'argent?

and how to use them? thank you!

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'mange du pain' vs 'mange le pain'

Hi there; apologies if this question has been asked and dealt with before. I have just been told that, as a translation of Aurelie eats bread, 'Aurelie mange le pain' is incorrect, with 'Aurelie mange du pain' being the correct answer. I can understand how, if the English was Aurelie is eating bread one would write 'du pain', because Aurelie can only ever be eating some bread at a given moment. I also understand how Aurelie mange le pain would lead one to infer that the sentence is referring to a specific piece of bread that Aurelie is eating. However, surely in English, one of the major connotations of Aurelie eats bread, is that it is a general statement about one of the kinds of food that Aurelie eats (in the same way that one might say Aurelie eats meat (ie Aurelie isn't a vegetarian). And if it is a general statement, then one is effectively saying that Aurelie will eat any bread that is put in front of her. In other words, she doesn't as a general rule, only eat some bread ('du pain') she eats all breads ('le pain'). In which case, shouldn't Aurelie mange le pain be marked correct? What am I missing here? Thanks in advance!

Asked 1 year ago

Hi Hugh,

Aurélie mange du pain. -- That's the general statement, without reference to any specific piece or kind of bread. In English you might translate this as:

Aurélie eats (some) bread.
Aurélie is eating (some) bread.

Aurélie mange le pain. -- This versions has the connotation that you are talking about a specific piece of bread that has been talked about before in the context of the sentence. A possible translation to English would be:

Aurélie eats the bread.
Aurélie is eating the bread.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Hi there; thanks for this.

I'm not sure it addresses my central query: if the statement Aurelie eats bread is intended to signify that, as a general rule, Aurelie is an eater of bread (Do you take sugar in your tea?, I am allergic to mushrooms, He loves biscuits, might all be  a similar sort of statement), then how would one write that in French?

But Hugh's point, which I agree with, is that "Aurelie eats bread" would only be used in the sense that Aurelie is not, say, allergic to bread. So it's similar to "Aurelie likes bread" or "Aurelie dislikes bread". Compare that to the example "Il déteste le café" in this lesson:

Using le, la, l', les before nouns when generalising (definite articles)

Well, I am not sure I can explain it any different than I did in my previous post:

"Je suis végétarien mais je mange du pain." -- That's the general statement.

"Je mange le pain qui reste sur la table." -- That's with reference to a specific piece of bread.

The verb "aimier" is different in this respect:

J'aime le pain. -- I like bread. This is the general statement for aimer. But not for manger.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

P.S.: I have talked to two French native speakers about this and the corroborate my understanding.

You added one new thing in this post - the verb aimer is different. This is definitely the key issue. I've seen it described in grammar books as verbs of preference, so also includes préferer, adorer, détester etc. But the question is whether it really only applies to a specific list of verbs, or also to other verbs when a generalisation is involved.

I would like to get the opinion of one of the experts on this site.

'mange du pain' vs 'mange le pain'

Hi there; apologies if this question has been asked and dealt with before. I have just been told that, as a translation of Aurelie eats bread, 'Aurelie mange le pain' is incorrect, with 'Aurelie mange du pain' being the correct answer. I can understand how, if the English was Aurelie is eating bread one would write 'du pain', because Aurelie can only ever be eating some bread at a given moment. I also understand how Aurelie mange le pain would lead one to infer that the sentence is referring to a specific piece of bread that Aurelie is eating. However, surely in English, one of the major connotations of Aurelie eats bread, is that it is a general statement about one of the kinds of food that Aurelie eats (in the same way that one might say Aurelie eats meat (ie Aurelie isn't a vegetarian). And if it is a general statement, then one is effectively saying that Aurelie will eat any bread that is put in front of her. In other words, she doesn't as a general rule, only eat some bread ('du pain') she eats all breads ('le pain'). In which case, shouldn't Aurelie mange le pain be marked correct? What am I missing here? Thanks in advance!

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I don’t understand how Julie beut du chocolat can mean Julie wants some chocolate and Julie wants chocolate

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

The sentence "Julie veut du chocolat." can be literally translated as, "Julie wants of the chocolate." This obviously doesn't work in English very well. In English you would say, "Julie wants some chocolate.", meaning she wants a part of some indeterminate amount of chocolate. Equally possible is the English translation, "Julie wants chocolate.", without the "some". In both cases it is a part of some indeterminate amount of chocolate.

However, if you happen to have some sweets in your pocket as, e.g., some pieces of chocolate, you could say, "Tu veux des chocolats?", which is a different question from "tu veux du chocolate?".

Tu veux des chocolats? -- Do you want some sweets?
Tu veux du chocolate? -- Do you want (some) chocolate?

I hope this helps, -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Thanks so much for your answer. That is bit somewhat clearer I guess but still a little confusing. I am sure it will make more sense the more I know. The problem is not being in a sutuation where you do not use the language day to day and don’t get the inscand outs of the language. 

I don’t understand how Julie beut du chocolat can mean Julie wants some chocolate and Julie wants chocolate

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Plural partitive?

Some sources name a "plural partitive" - des. This lesson doesn't though. I can't really see how something could be uncountable and plural at the same time. Would you agree?
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

It has taken me a while to understand what the problem is here...

The exemple you give is incorrect , in French if  you want to express different types of things, you will not use the partitive "Des" but something like , 

Vous avez essayé plusieurs/différentes sortes de thé or  vous avez essayé des thés différents/ divers ?  

you can't simply say des thés, this would be the same for any kind of food stuff.

 

Not sure if this helps? 

NigelA2
Other articles in this course describe des as a partitive e.g. Du, de la, de l', des all become de or d' in negative sentences (partitive articles) , or describe des as a partitive article. I think that using "uncountable" as the definition sends us on the wrong track. I think that saying partitive singular is for when the number is not relevant, or not inferred, rather than uncountable e.g. "some tea". Partitive plural is for when there is clearly more than one of the object referred to e.g "some teas". For example: Did you try some tea? Singular partitive, uncountable (or more exactly, counting is a meaningless concept in the context) Essayez vous du the? Did you try some teas? i.e. different types of tea, and you could count the number of teas you tried. Essayez vous des thes?
NigelA2
Avez vous essaye du the? Avez vous essaye des thes? :(
On the contrary, I believe the difference between uncountable (or mass) nouns vs count nouns is key here. The former use the partitive article, the latter the indefinite article, which can be singular or plural. Both types of nouns, of course, use the definite article. All examples I've seen so far with "des", including in the lesson you refer to, could interpret "des" as the plural indefinite article, rather than the "plural partitive" article. Which is why I wonder if the latter concept actually exists at all. Even in your example with "des thés", it's very clear that we're talking about TYPES of tea, or different tea flavors, rather than an indefinite amount of the liquid tea. I'll be happy to be proven wrong if someone can come up with a good example of the plural partitive.

Plural partitive?

Some sources name a "plural partitive" - des. This lesson doesn't though. I can't really see how something could be uncountable and plural at the same time. Would you agree?

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Why there is not liaison when we pronounce Des harricots? Should't it be pronounced as /dezaricot/ ?

Asked 1 year ago
RonC1
Bonjour Elena, In French, there are two forms of the letter «h»: 1) le «h muet» 2) le «h aspiré» With the «h muet» there is liaison With the «h aspiré» there is NO liaison I know that this is covered on this site but I am having difficulty locating it; so here is a link to a lesson that Laura has written on another site: https://www.thoughtco.com/french-pronunciation-of-h-1369563 This gives a great definition and explanation between the two «h» forms. If you are so inclined and need a video here is a link from a competitors site: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=h+muet+vs+h+aspir%C3%A9&atb=v70-2&ia=videos&iax=videos&iai=IVR7W7OSONg At times, I find it very helpful to search outside of Kwiziq for explanations when I become stuck on a topic. This gives me another point of view on the topic. However, having said that, I DO always come back to this site because I find it quite superior in the manner the material is presented and quite frankly, I love the quizzes. J'espère que ma réponse vous aiderait. Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde français depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet
GruffKwiziq language super star
Hi Elena - Ron is correct.

French words starting with 'h' fall into two categories. One where the 'h' considered mute or silent, and the other where it's considered 'aspirated' and therefore liaison doesn't occur because it's in the way of the vowel. Confusingly, in fact, the h isn't really aspirated in the spoken form at all - it's just the liaison that doesn't happen. This probably for historic reasons as most of the 'h aspiré' words were adopted from other languages (handicap, hippie, hockey for example) where the h was truly aspirated (i.e. can be heard).

Haricot is a little trickier as you will sometimes hear people liaise it, but it's considered incorrect. There was even a rumour circulating - started by a newspaper - that the academie française was going to change the rules to allow it, but they have debunked this.

You can read more here:
http://www.academie-francaise.fr/questions-de-langue#43_strong-em-le-haricot-ou-l-haricot-em-strong

Note also that for h aspiré words, it's not just liaison but élision that's 'interdit'. We must write "le haricot" and not "l'haricot".

More about French elision: https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/glossary/contraction/l-elision-elision">https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/glossary/contraction/l-elision-elision">https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/glossary/contraction/l-elision-elision">https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/glossary/contraction/l-elision-elision

I see we are missing a page on liaison and we can add some info about h aspiré / muet too.

Hope this helps!
RonC1
Salut Gruff, I appreciate your reply because I was unaware of the historical reasons for the difference that you cite here. Merci et bonne journée

Why there is not liaison when we pronounce Des harricots? Should't it be pronounced as /dezaricot/ ?

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For feminine nouns like lait. You use de la? Does this mean that Je veux de la lait is correct.

Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Habiba, Lait is masculine, so the correct sentence is Je veux du lait.

For feminine nouns like lait. You use de la? Does this mean that Je veux de la lait is correct.

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In the sentences above "Il y a des chiens", why Il ya and not ce sont since "des chiens" is plural?

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Laura ! "Il y a" means "there are" whereas "ce sont" means "these/they are": "Il y a des chiens ici." (There are dogs here.) "Ce sont des chiens." (These are dogs.) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
merci! i am just a beginner and this distinction was not clearly presented in class.
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Laura ! Here are links to our two related lessons :) Il y a = There is, There are C'est, ce sont = this is, these are (demonstrative pronouns) Bonne chance !

In the sentences above "Il y a des chiens", why Il ya and not ce sont since "des chiens" is plural?

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Please add that when using the verb être the Partitive doesn't change

For example: Ce sont des poires. ----> Ce ne sont pas des poires.
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Claudia ! Thanks you very much for this excellent suggestion. I've now added this precision to the related lesson: Du, de la, de l', des all become de or d' in negative sentences (partitive articles) Merci beaucoup et à bientôt !

Please add that when using the verb être the Partitive doesn't change

For example: Ce sont des poires. ----> Ce ne sont pas des poires.

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In negative sentences we only use de?

I mean, if I want to express I don't have any pommes, is it "Je n'ai pas de pommes",or "des pommes"? That is to say, when there is a negative sentence, the only partitive article I need to use is de, is that right?
Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Yes, that's correct.

In negative sentences we only use de?

I mean, if I want to express I don't have any pommes, is it "Je n'ai pas de pommes",or "des pommes"? That is to say, when there is a negative sentence, the only partitive article I need to use is de, is that right?

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Est-ce que tu as de la farine?

In the question 'Est-ce que tu as de la farine?' , it sounds like you don't say part of 'Est-ce que'. Why is that?
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Sophia ! The phrase "Est-ce que" is a typical example of the fact that in French we don't pronounce all the letters, like in English for example! Also French people speak quite fast, sounding like even more letters are missing :) "Est-ce que" would, if said slowly, sound like [essuh kuh], but pronounced at normal speed, simply [esskuh]. I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Est-ce que tu as de la farine?

In the question 'Est-ce que tu as de la farine?' , it sounds like you don't say part of 'Est-ce que'. Why is that?

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How to distinguish between partitive articles du, de la, de l' ,des and FROM.

They both contain the word "DE".
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Zubair !

That's a very good remark, and it works for the partitive articles (some), for "from the", but also "of the" which are both expressed with "DE + definite article" in French.
The answer I can give you is that context is the only way to differenciate them.

Here are some examples to practice :)
1- Je mange du pain. (I eat [some] bread. -> partitive)
2- J'ai sauté du bateau.  (I jumped from the boat.)
3- J'aime la sœur du facteur.   (I love the postman's sister -> the sister of the postman)

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

 

How to distinguish between partitive articles du, de la, de l' ,des and FROM.

They both contain the word "DE".

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Je bois du lait . MAIS je ne bois pas de lait. Est-ce vrai?

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Madalena !

Yes, you are perfectly correct!
The partitive articles du, de la, de l' and des become de or d' in negative sentences.

Here is a link to the matching lesson: https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/grammar/the-partitive-article-in-negative-sentences

A bientôt !

Je bois du lait . MAIS je ne bois pas de lait. Est-ce vrai?

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Je mange des frites. J'adore manger des ananas. J'ai mangé du poison. Est-ce que c'es bon?

Asked 3 years ago
Je ne mange pas du poison. Mais, je mange du poisson.
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Cristiane ! Moi aussi, j'aime beaucoup l'ananas ! Et attention, le poison et le poisson sont deux choses très différentes ;)

Bonjour Lisa!
Attention: Je mange du poisson mais je ne mange pas de poison.

Have a look at this lesson:

https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/grammar/the-partitive-article-in-negative-sentences

 

Merci Aurèlie.
Hallo, poison means poison or venom whereas poisson means fish.

Je mange des frites. J'adore manger des ananas. J'ai mangé du poison. Est-ce que c'es bon?

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