Du v De

Ok I know I am being incredibly stupid here but does anyone have a simple formula for remembering which way round these go? I always get them mixed up no matter that I have been chided by the kids on numerous occasions with a chorus of "Ohhhhh Mummy you did it AGAINNNNNN!"

Help me show them that I am not that thick s'il vous plait xx


Of course, why can't I ever think of everything I want to say when responding on the Internet? I appreciate your tips very much!

Josette this is exactly it thank you. When speaking I can sort of fudge it and blame my accent but it is impossible in the written.

I know this should be seen as basic stuff but I just have a block with this one and it won't sink in.

Bonne annee a toi et merci beaucoup a tous xx

Excellent et merci beaucoup

Josette, that is the most straightforward explanation of the (majority of, at least) uses of en and y that I’ve seen - merci beaucouop! I knew “y” was used with places but haven’t mastered all the examples - this will help. Agreed, lots of practice is necessary to make their use second nature.

in a nutshell: "en" and "y"

I hope this helps. This requires practice, practice, practice and is used intensively to avoid repetitions.

1 en= de+ noun (and all forms of de)

ex: Tu as du pain à la maison? => Oui, j'en ai un peu.//Non, je n'en ai pas; il faudrait en acheter.

Il est rentré du travail? Oui, il en rentre à l'instant.

Il a des enfants? Oui, il en a trois, un garçon et deux filles.

2. y= à + noun (and all forms of the preposition à)// derrière/devant/dans ... or other location marker+noun

ex. tu vas au marché?=> oui j'y vais avec ma soeur.

Il pense à son voyage=> oui, il y pense.

La valise est dans la voiture? oui, elle y est.

Jacqui, do you mean when to use du or de?

There are many different scenarios .

1. the basic rule is that you use "de"after expressions of quantity: beaucoup de pain, peu de travail, trop de bruit, assez de couleurs etc.

2. le partitif du, de la, de l', des (+) // de (-) : some//any

* du= contraction of de+ le => you need to know the gender of the noun . In this case "de"is the "partitif", describing "some " of something. ex: j'ai du pain (I have some bread, or I have bread)

* In the negatif du becomes de: Je n'ai pas de pain. (I don't have any bread/ I have no bread)

* with a feminin noun there is no contraction: j'ai de la soupe//négatif: je n'ai pas de soupe.

* in the plural: the contraction is des (= de+les=>des). J'ai des cousins // je n'ai pas de cousins

Remember that you need to know the gender of the noun. Mistakes are to be expected, ask the children to be lenient!

PLease let me know if this is what you needed to know. This is a good topic for the mini-lesson on my website, www.cevenneslangues.com perhaps next month.

Bonne chance avec de, du, de la...et bonne année.

Note in reply to Dedene: you can say "le pain"of course: "Tu peux me passer le pain?" Vous avez apporté le pain? "It is more specific because le is the definite article. Le linge is feminin however. ex: "Tu as rangé le linge? "

Again, there many different scenarios so if you need more examples let me know.

Hi Dedene,

I like Laura Lawless' About.com page because it is thorough indeed - a great reference. Now if I could just master how to use "en" and "y"! Keep passing along language learning tips and I will definitely do the same. My best, Michael


Thanks for the link. After having read through the 5 pages, I realize that all of this is much more complicated than I thought. Now I know how much I don't know!

Hi Guys

Thanks so much for your input. I'll go off now (well after the New Year) and try my best to get this set in my head. I think it's just one of those things I have managed to get stuck on.

Dedene you made me laugh when talking about all the bread in the world (le pain). Ma belle mere only ever used the plural "les" for everything yet the French here were very forgiving with her. Bless them

Merci beaucoup, Jacqui, for bringing up the tricky topic (I'm sure many others join you in not being sure on the usage; I get mixed up too) and to you, Dedene ! Very kind and thorough.

Here is a link that echoes your indications - also included because there are other grammar lessons that I find quite accessible: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/de-vs-du-de-la-des.htm My favorite is an invention of hers (I think) called...the Subjunctivator! You choose a common sentence fragment, like "je crois que", and it indicates in which case the subjunctive is required (e.g., affirmative, negative, interrogative).

Bonne continuation a vous deux !

No, you're not stupid. The "de" is used with an expression as in "un peu de" or "beaucoup de" and then the noun, but the noun will be in its generic form. Un peu de pain, beaucoup de lait. It represents "of" in English.

With "du" or "de la", these are used for nouns and indicate the masculine or feminine. This "de + le = du" or "de la" indicates that you're talking about a specific object. "Je veux du pain" or "Je fais de la linge" "je ne vois pas du pain" representing "some, many or any" in English. Ex.,I want some bread. I'm doing some laundry. I don't see any bread.

Hope this will help a bit!

In French you can never say "le pain" or "la linge" because it means all of the bread or laundry that exists in the world.