Quantities - The partitive article

When you only want SOME cake, not the whole thing!

The partitive article is used in both French and English to talk about quantities that can't really be counted, and translates to some or any. It can be a little hard to grasp for English speakers because we frequently leave it out of our sentences:

For breakfast we have (some) cereal, (some) milk, (some) fruit and (some) orange juice, but we don't have (any) coffee.

In French the partitive article changes depending on whether what you're talking about is masculine, feminine or plural. For instance:

I would like some eggs, some milk and some salad.
Je voudrais des oeufs, du lait et de la salade.
  • oeufs (eggs) is plural.
  • lait (milk) is masculine.
  • salade (salad) is feminine.

When the sentence is turned into the negative, des, du, de la or de l' (before a vowel) turn into de.

  • I want some milk = Je veux du lait
  • I don't want any milk = Je ne veux pas de lait