French Question: confused by EN, DE, AU, SUR

Hi I am doing French now but I am always confused by

1. en, de, au, sur as all of them can use as "in"? When should i use de/de/au/sur/ à as "in"? 

2. the articles partitifs: du, de la, de l', des and de: When should i use them?

For example:

a. Il mange _des_ légumes, mais il ne mange pas _de_ viande.

b. Dans ce supermarché, il y a _de_la_ viande, mai il n'y a pas  _de_  légumes.

I don't understand why they are the same words ( legumes, viande) but using different articles partitifs? 

Merci !


Apr 21, 2018 10:37 PM
Comments · 7

"La viande" is a generic word used when we talk about the flesh of an animal that is going to be eaten. "De la" in front of "viande" because it is a feminine gender noun.
The meat is not as countable as Vegetables  (there are so many varieties of vegetables but for meat there are mainly two different kinds: red meat (for beef veal pork lamb) and white meat (for chicken)... (and also black meat for game like deer).
It s the same for bread, we say "du pain" and not "des pains" because it s a generic and general word used for that food. It s not countable. The same for milk too: "du lait", not "des laits".
But careful because we say "des pains au chocolat" and not "du pain au chocolat", because in that example we talk about a specific kind of french pastry (which may be countable).

In conclusion I think there is a kind of countable reason for the use of these prepositions but sometimes there is no particular reason (or if there is one, most of french people are not aware of), I guess there are some exceptions too. So I d say that the most effective way would be to pratice repeat listen to them a lot of time and at the end you ll know which preposition to use, just because it sounds good.

Break a leg!

April 22, 2018

Hi Tiffany, I'm studying French as well and get confused by these too.

I am still learning about <em>en, de, au, sur</em> but I can partly answer the second part of your question...

du comes before a masculine word.  Je mange du pain. 

de la comes before a feminine word.  Vous avez de la salade? 

de l' before a singular word beginning with a vowel or a silent H.   Ma mère a acheté de l'huile.

des before a word in the plural form.   Nous mangeons des légumes.


April 22, 2018

Bonjour Tiffany, bon, "viande", c'est un mot pour lequel il n'y a pas de pluriel, comme "sucre". Donc toujours au singulier, toujours "de la" (féminin), et "du" (masculin). Idem par exemple pour le poivre, le pain, etc

Par contre, légumes, c'est un mot qui accepte singulier et pluriel : l'oignon est un légume, "on conseille de manger des légumes chaque jour". Donc toujours "les" ou "des", et jamais du. 

"en", "sur" il faut l'apprendre au cas par cas. On dit "en France", la France. On dit "la Corée", donc en Corée. On dit "au Pakistan" (le Pakistan), au Brésil. Aux Pays-Bas (pluriel). C'est comme ça. 

April 26, 2018
Hi Tiffany :) ,

I am French and yes that was kind of complicated to find an explanation to your question, which is a very good question. But here's an example in English if that helps:

- Il mange des légumes, mais il ne mange pas de viande.

- He eats vegetables, but he doesn't eat meat.

-Dans ce supermarché, il y a de la viande mais il n'y a pas de légumes.

- In this supermarket, you can find (some) meat, but no vegetables.

I'd say that when you can use "some" you should use "de la" for viande (there's a link with quantity I'd say). "Des" is for the thing as its whole, it's more general.

I really hope that this helps :).

April 22, 2018
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Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese), English, French, Korean
Learning Language
French, Korean