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Understanding grammar will help you on your way to foreign language fluency. When learning the French language, it’s important to understand the role that the French partitive construction plays when using the language.
Use of the Partitive Construction
Partitives are something that English speakers take for granted. There are certain words that are understood, so you don’t have to say them, even when you mean them, like any or some. These words can be completely ignored without changing the meaning of the sentence – and in some cases adding them tends to emphasize more than anything else. These words are not optional in French. Leaving them out makes the sentence incomplete, or at least confusing.
On the plus side, some and any are represented by the same word “de.” Unfortunately, you do have to learn different version of the word based on the gender, number, and the beginning letter of the noun that follows it.
Singular (before vowel or h)
Any / Some
De / d’
Do you want coffee? Voulez-vous du café ?
Do you want water? Vous-vous de l’eau ?
We have bananas and apples. Nous avons des bananes et des pommes.
She hasn’t any friends here. Elle n’a pas d’amis ici.
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