FR: beaucoup de/des

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by PPP, Dec 28, 2006.

  1. PPP Senior Member

    Hello, I have a point of confusion with "beaucoup de":
    I'm not sure when to keep the de and when to combine it with the article, for example:

    beaucoup du temps / beaucoup de temps?
    beaucoup du travail / beaucoup de travail?

    Thank you!

    Moderator note: multiple threads merged to create this one
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2012
  2. carolineR

    carolineR Senior Member

    Indian Ocean
    beaucoup de temps :tick:
    beaucoup de travail :tick:

    YEP beaucoup de neige/ beaucoup de choses/ beaucoup de gens
    or beaucoup d'amis
    or beaucoup on its own
    Je l'aime beaucoup
    Tu as déjà vu des pingoins ? - oui, j'en ai vu beaucoup :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2013
  3. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod (AL mod)

    French (lower Normandy)
    Normalement, comme "peu", "beaucoup" toujours avec "de" :
    "Je n'ai pas beaucoup de temps"
    "Beaucoup de Français sont mécontents"
    "Many French are discontented".

    Mais: "Beaucoup des Français interrogés ont dit être mécontents"
    Many of the French questioned said they were not happy."
    = beaucoup de + les Français interrogés => beaucoup des Français

    Hope it helps.

    ps: sorry for those examples badly translated. :eek:
  4. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    beaucoup de temps: mcuh time, a lot of time
    beaucoup du temps: much of the time, a lot of the time

    beaucoup de travail: much work
    beaucoup du travail: much of the work.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2012
  5. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    In Sentence (1) "vegetables" are indefinite. We know it from "de."
    Then how should we say when we want to say "the vegetables"? "des légumes verts"?
  6. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod (AL mod)

    French (lower Normandy)
    I don't quite understand your problem here :eek:

    As I see it & as explained I would say:
    I eat a lot of vegetables
    Je mange beaucoup de légumes

    But anyway can you really say in English
    I eat a lot of the vegetables ??!! :confused:

    I don't quite follow you here, what do you mean exactly?
  7. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I think yes, at least technically. :) If you mean some specific vegetables not vegatables in general.
    I eat a lot of the vegatables grown by my father in our garden.

  8. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod (AL mod)

    French (lower Normandy)
    I agree ... but you had to add a clause ;) Without it, it's not very natural ...
  9. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I see your point. What if form the context it would be clear what vegetables are being referred to?

  10. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod (AL mod)

    French (lower Normandy)
    I see your point too. But does such a thing really happen in real life when real people talk :D? As such, if you hear "beaucoup des", the first thing you think is "wow, that's wrong!" But if after there is a relative clause, you can think "Ah OK". But if not, it just sounds wrong.

    Papa a mangé beaucoup des légumes que maman avait préparés (avec amour :D). :tick:

    "the" in English shows that you've already talked about them in a way.
    So if such, such a thing might happen:
    "Maman avait préparé de délicieux légumes & papa en a mangé beaucoup".

    Or another example:
    "Beaucoup des enfants non scolarisés dont j'ai parlé pendant 4 heures ont des problèmes bla bla bla". :tick:
    In such cases, you won't say:
    "Beacoup des enfants ont des problèmes ..." :cross:
    even if you've been talking about them for 4 hours.
    You would rather say:
    "Beaucoup de ces enfants ont des problèmes ..."

    I mean, in real speech, there is almost always a way not to say "beaucoup des légumes full stop", as in English I guess ...
  11. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I've always thought I'm for real.:p:D

    I realize that such examples aren't likely in an everyday conversation (hence, I wrote technically in one of my previous posts). I also realize that at a first glance they seem to be lapsus linguae, but if one delves into nuances...

    On the other hand, the context is everything and in some ones hardly anyone would ever noticed any oddity. Which is not to say that the frequency of constructions of this ilk is high, they are, I think, rather particularities if compared to the mainstream.

    It's also worth noting that distirbution of certain constructions in languages can also be different--even though the constructions may have direct (or more or less direct) couterparts their distribution in a language may highly differ. For instance:
    "beaucoup des gens (qui...)" may be less acceptable in French than "a lot of the people (who...)" in English in spite of their being sound in each language from a grammatical standpoint.


    PS: your example with kids is incorrect (also) for another reason.
  12. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Might be, I suppose, but isn't as far as I know - why do you say that? "Beaucoup des gens" as long as it's followed by a clause is very common, just as in English (and equally it is wrong to miss out the clause in English and say something like "many of the people like cake").

    I think that DP's point was that it risks sounding wrong - but equally that is the case in English. For example, even in the example above if someone had just said "No one in Scotland likes chocolate", it would be grammatically fine to reply "but many of the people like cake" (eg "the people who live in Scotland" being understood). In isolation - and perhaps in the mouth of a foreign-speaker, against whom natives of all languages are ready to hear errors;) - "many of the people like cake" sounds strange.

    PS: What is the other reason the example is wrong? Je donne ma langue au chat.:)
  13. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I knew I risked giving this as an example (this is actually the reason why I used may).
    I couldn't be bothered to look for some examples that would trully illustrate what I was aiming at, and took the ones I found in this thread. It was an example of my point though without actual representation, sorry if that confused anyone.
    On the other hand, why do you find sentenes like "many of the people like cake" wrong?

    Is there something that contradicts this? I realize this, I tried to point out that in certain cases constructions of this type would probably pass without anyone's noting them. Would the example you gave stirike you as unusual if you heard it form a native speaker.
    It also seems to me that the natves' acceptance of, say, peculiar constructions employed by natives is much higher than if the same constructions are used by a foreginer who uses the language in question (and it's not their mother tongue) even though both used them correctly.

    I hope I've got you right, please point it out if I haven't. :)

    PS: I know I am being nitpicky...:eek: there's a typo in beaucoup.
  14. ewanog Member

    UK, english and portuguese
    Bonjour tout le monde,

    I was always taught that one never ever ever uses 'des' after 'beaucoup', but I was reading a post ( in which it was said that there are some cases when one can say 'beaucoup des'...:confused:

    can anyone provide some examples?
  15. Mme Machin Senior Member

    Midwest USA
    USA English
    I think you could say, "Beaucoup des personnes qui fréquentent ce forum sont à l'université." Meaning "a lot of the people who . . ." as opposed to "a lot of people" in general. Ai-je raison, les francophones natifs? (Can I say "francophones natifs" as opposed to a francophone who can only speak the language as a result of studying it?)
  16. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    beaucoup de criminels:many criminals
    beaucoup des criminels: many of the criminals

    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2012
  17. Avignonais Senior Member

    USA, Anglophone
    M.H. and geostan,
    I have a question. I read the thread [...] and appreciated the logic that the specificity of an additional clause necessitates "many of the" in English and "beaucoup des" in French. However, my question is: since when did French follow the rules in English. By its own logic, French is more of a stickler for rules and, for this reason, I am not sure why it would be wrong to say:
    Beaucoup de gens dont j'ai longuement parlé sont ici?
    Why would French in trying to be like English subvert its own rule and force us to say:
    Beaucoup des gens dont j'ai longuement parlé sont ici?

    OK, the simpler version of the question is: Is it wrong to say "beaucoup de gens dont j'ai parlé sont ici"?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2012
  18. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    No, it's not wrong but it doesn't convey the exact same nuance as the sentence with des.

    Beaucoup de gens dont j'ai parlé sont ici. = Many people I talked about are here.
    (You stress that many people you talked about are here.)

    Beaucoup des gens dont j'ai parlé sont ici. = Many of the people I talked about are here.
    (You stress that you've talked about that specific group of people.)
  19. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    One facet of your question needs to be addressed. The fact that English and French agree on a usage does not mean that one is following the other's rules. Quite often grammatical logic dictates the same rule in many languages.

    Concerning the nature of the definite article, I usually follow the notion that if the definite article is required (not merely optional) in the one language, it is usually required in the other. It does not always work, but it does more often than not. Certain idiomatic expressions by their nature escape this logic, e.g. I don't have a choice - Je n'ai pas le choix. (I might add here that the French version is more logical because a choice usually suggests one alternative vs another.)

    Capello has shown that your example is a possible French sentence, but it is the same in English. The two langauges are on the same wave length.

    Many people I talked about...
    Many of the people I talked about (the more usual one, I might add).

    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2012
  20. starswept Senior Member


    I know that after an expression of quantity such as 'beaucoup de', you never use 'des', even if the noun is plural. However, does this still apply when there are multiple nouns, such as in my sentence: 'La ville a beaucoup de jardins, de parcs, et de sentiers de découverte de la nature.' Do all the nouns keep 'de', or should the last two use 'des'?

    Merci d'avance!
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2008
  21. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    You have things half right! :)

    La ville a beaucoup de jardins, de parcs et de sentiers de découverte... :tick:

    It does not matter if the general thing you have a lot of is singular or plural, you use de... and if there are multiple nouns in a list, you still use de, repeating it in front of each of the nouns, just as you did. :thumbsup:

    However, the statement that you will "never" use des after an expression of quantity is not correct. You must distinguish between definite and indefinite usage.

    Indefinite: you won't use des with an expression of quantity
    Remember that the indefinite articles are un, une and des: un jardin = a garden, des jardins = gardens (in general). The indefinite plural combines as de + des = de, so

    beaucoup de + des jardins = beaucoup de jardins, many gardens

    Definite: you can use des even with an expression of quantity
    When you speak of specific gardens, instead of gardens in general, you will need a definite article ("the garden(s)" instead of "a garden" or "gardens"). The plural definite article les combines as de + les = des, so

    beaucoup de + les jardins de Paris = beaucoup des jardins de Paris, many of the gardens of Paris

    Which gardens? Specifically, the gardens of Paris. Obviously we expect this sentence to continue to tell us something about "many of the gardens of Paris"... that they are maintained by city funds, that they close at dusk, that they have playgrounds for children, etc.

    Does that make sense? :)

    PS. On dit "merci d'avance" ;) :p
  22. starswept Senior Member

    That makes perfect sense. Thank you very much for the explanation! I'll copy it down into my notes. For years, my French teachers have just taught 'never use des after an expression of quantity!' and then bombarded us with a list of expressions of quantity, so it's great to finally get an actual, logical explanation :)

    P.S. Oops - that's embarrassing. Thanks for letting me know! :eek:
  23. Said212

    Said212 Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Arabic & English
    Many times i face the same situation. I have two examples.

    Hamlet est un conte avec beacoup DE symbolisme or beacoup DU symbolisme. Is it really du or is using de without regards to the 'le' okay.

    The same situation came up again with "les rencontres du petit prince or de petit prince.

    I do not know when de is sufficient and when the du is used or de la.

    Any clarification is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
  24. Juan Jacob Vilalta

    Juan Jacob Vilalta Banned

    Du symbolisme. No quantity. Du beurre.
    Beaucoup de symbolisme. Quantity involved. 100 grammes de beurre.

    Other questions are other questions.
  25. Tim~!

    Tim~! Senior Member

    Leicester, UK
    UK — English
    The structure is beaucoup de to which is added du symbolisme. There is lots of some symbolism, as the French see it.

    I've never known it taught in schools, but there is a rule to apply here.

    DE + DU/DE LA/DE L'/DES contracts straight to DE.

    So, what happens here is we have beaucoup de symbolisme, where de is the result of DE + DU collapsing.
  26. pacadansc Senior Member

    = much symbolism.

    Expressions of quantity is always expressed by beaucoup de.
    Obvious examples are: beaucoup d'argent, beaucoup de livres, etc.

    Should you see beaucoup du symbolisme, the meaning would be different.

    Beaucoup du symbolisme du poème ...
    Much of the symbolisme of the poem ...

    Ils ne parlent pas beaucoup du passé.
    They don't talk much about the past.

    Cela dépend beaucoup du degré auquel ...
    That depends a lot on the degree to which ...
  27. earthmerlin Senior Member

    Hi there. I'm a beginner at French & I've been saying things like, "Je vois des oiseaux" & "Il y a beacoup des oiseaux" & it's just occurred to me to ask if I'm saying these correctly. Am I? Merci!
  28. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Français, Québec ♀
    Hello earthmerlin,

    The first one is right, however the second isn't. It should be « Il y a beaucoup d'oiseaux ».

    I'm afraid I'm not very good at explaining French grammar subtleties, but this page might help. :)
  29. Wil_Estel Senior Member

    Hello earthmerlin

    As Nicomon mentioned earlier, your second sentence should have been « Il y a beaucoup d'oiseaux. »

    Just remember to always use « beaucoup de » or « beaucoup d'X » when the next word begins with a vowel. If you follow this rule, you're most likely to be correct.
  30. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    I'm afraid that's not quite accurate. :)

    It is absolutely possible to have du/de la/de l'/des or even d'un(e) after beaucoup. It is true that you will very often need de, but you are by no means limited to de! The base expression is beaucoup de = "a lot of." But then the preposition de/of on the end of this expression can combine with the definite (le/la/les), indefinite (un/une) or partitive article (du/de la/des).... so whether you keep the de or change it to something else depends on what comes afterwards.
    de + le/la/l'/les = du/de la/de l'/des
    de + un/une = d'un/d'une
    de + du/de la/de l'/des = de/d'
    e.g., Au zoo, j'ai vu beaucoup de + des oiseaux exotiques --> Au zoo, j'ai vu beaucoup d'oiseaux exotiques.
    = I saw a lot of exotic birds at the zoo.
    In English, if there's one bird, we say "a bird," but if there are several we get to drop the article and just say "birds." It doesn't work that way in French. The plural of un oiseau is des oiseaux: you have to include the article des. Then this plural article des combines with the preposition de from beaucoup de to give you de back again.

    e.g., Au zoo, j'ai vu beaucoup de + les oiseaux que tu m'avais décrits. --> Au zoo, j'ai vu beaucoup des oiseaux exotiques que tu m'avais décrits.
    = At the zoo, I saw a lot of the exotic birds that you had described to me.
    Now we're talking about certain specific birds. Which birds? The birds that you had described to me. We need the definite article "the" in English, and we need it in French too (les). And then de definite plural les combines with the preposition de from beaucoup de to give you des.

    So why do so many students of French learn that they should automatically put de after beaucoup? With an expression of quantity like beaucoup de, the thing we have a lot of is usually partitive or indefinite plural. That means we very frequently have beaucoup de + du/de la/des XXX --> beacoup de XXX... so most of the time, we end up getting de back again. This is the origin of the inaccurate rule. As you can see, it's not so much that the rule is "wrong" as that it is oversimplified. You will often use de after beaucoup, but by no means "always."

    You might find this threas helpful:
    FR: lots of influences
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  31. zakima Senior Member

    I am quite confused between de and des

    I am trying to say after having sent many letters of motivation

    Would it be best to say après avoir envoye beaucoup des lettres or beaucoup de lettres
  32. Nino83 Senior Member

    After adverbs of quantity the right choice is the preposition de.

    après avoir envoyé beaucoup de lettres
  33. snarkhunter

    snarkhunter Senior Member

    France, Région parisienne
    French - France
    ... except if that be followed by a relative proposition!

    "Après avoir envoyé beaucoup des lettres que j'ai écrites hier."
  34. Nino83 Senior Member

    Ah, that's right snarkhunter.
    When one speaks about something specific, we have to use du, de la, des.
    Also before the preposition de, am I right?

    après avoir envoyé beaucoup des lettres de François

  35. zakima Senior Member

    would beaucoup des lettres de motivation or beaucoup de lettres de motivation be correct?
  36. snarkhunter

    snarkhunter Senior Member

    France, Région parisienne
    French - France
    "beaucoup des lettres" implies something very specific, i.e. not any letters, but some particular ones. And "beaucoup de lettres" means unspecified ones (though still many).
  37. Nino83 Senior Member

    Beaucoup de lettres de motivation.
    Partitive article du, de la, des is utilized when the preposition de means possession.

    Beaucoup des lettres que j'ai écrites hier (specific letters, those letters) --> relative pronoun
    Beaucoup des lettres de François (specific letters, the letters of François) --> possessive preposition
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
  38. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France - français
    Beaucoup du temps qui nous a été accordé pour parvenir à un consensus a été utilisé de façon stérile.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  39. Nino83 Senior Member

    I think that one needs to get the logic of the system to understand these differences.
    In English the plural s is pronounced but in French it isn't so it's essential the plural indefinite article des (with countable nouns).
    I eat oranges/je mange des oranges.
    When there is a quantifier, for example, beaucoup, it's obvious that beaucoup means plural, so the plural indefinite article is not essential.
    Beaucoup d'oranges.
    The same when there is an attributive adjective before a plural noun.
    Je mange de bonnes oranges. In this case is the adjective (mandatory liaison) which tells us that the noun is plural (but until XVI century the final s was always pronounced).

    So, with beaucoup, when the noun is indefinite, there's no need to put the plural indefinite article before the noun, but when the noun is definite, one has to put the definite article (de + le, la, les).
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  40. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    I'm sorry, but I think this explanation is misleading.

    It's not true that the plural indefinite article is non-essential or omitted in French. The plural indefinite is present in contracted form. Just as de + le = du for the m. sing. definite article, there is a contraction rule for the indefinite plural article: de + des = de.

    Now perhaps your thinking helps to explain why the contracted form de looks exactly like the preposition de (I don't know enough about etymology and history of language to say, though we have a forum for that)... but I don't feel that it's accurate to say that the indefinite article has been omitted in beaucoup de + plural noun.

    No, I don't think so. If this argument were true -- that the "s" of des may be dropped because the phonetics of the liaison convey the plural meaning -- then how do you explain cases where the liaison is present even in the singular? (gros ennui, faux ami, etc.)
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  41. Nino83 Senior Member

    Ah, ok, I thought that beaucoup de was formed by beaucoup + the preposition de.

    So these rules have to be learnt simply by heart?
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  42. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    You are correct: beacoup de is in fact formed by the adverb beacoup and the preposition de. But the real question is what to do with this [beaucoup de] unit once you have put the two words together! :)

    And the answer is that you have to consider what come next: {[beacoup de] ????}. Only after you know what ???? is can you determine the correct form of the entire {beacoup structure}.

    Yes, but surely you have already learned them! ;) The preposition de (wherever it occurs) combines with definite, indefinite and partitive articles as follows:

    definite: de + le, la, l', les --> du, de la, de l', des
    indefinite: de + un, une, des --> d'un, d'une, de/d'
    partitive: de + du, de la, de l', des--> de

    definite: beaucoup de + les oranges = beaucoup des oranges (lots/many of + the oranges = many of the oranges)
    indefinite or partitive: beacoup de + des oranges = beaucoup d'oranges (lots of + oranges = lots of oranges)

    Does that help? :)
  43. Nino83 Senior Member

    Oui, tout est clair! :)
    Merci beaucoup (sans de)

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