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I have a problem when I try to use des. For example, which of these sentences are correct:

  1. Je vois de lapins.
  2. Je vois des lapins.
  3. Difficultés de missions.
  4. Difficultés des missions.

I need to know when I have to use de in plural context and when I have to use des.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

This problem is probably one of the worse... It has a lot of exceptions and cases to handle.

For exemple you could say :

  • J'ai des lapins.

But you can also say :

  • J'ai beaucoup de lapins.

But, this also works :

  • Je n'ai pas de lapins.

And this also :

  • J'ai de très gros lapins.(1)

While this also works..

  • J'ai des très gros lapins.(2)

Yes I just wrote a sentence where both de and des fit, but actually doesn't have the same exact meaning. (1) uses de to increase the impact of the adjective très gros, while (2) uses des just as a plain article. It would be actually quite hard to explain the exact reason why de or why des on a lot of cases (as a French Canadian) since often we use the one that just "Sounds better".

There are a lot of specific and different cases.

I would recommand you this website that I found searching on google that explains clearly when to use de, des, du, etc.

EDIT : I also wanted to add that, in many cases like these listed, des is used for a little groups, while de is used for big groups.

  • J'ai des lapins. (some rabbits)

  • J'ai beaucoup de lapins. (a lot of rabbits)

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It should be worth noting that there are rules behind these exception cases. When using the adverb beaucoup, it must be followed by de, and de is always singular. This concept also applies to negations, as in your example. When you negate the verb avoir (je n'ai pas), it is generally followed by de, but is also always singular. You wouldn't say, for example, je n'ai pas des livres. You would also never say j'ai beaucoup des livres because in these two cases - negation and the adverb beaucoup - the de is singular, where it would normally be plural. – Chris Cirefice Jun 16 '14 at 19:49
@ChrisCirefice I would like to precise though that de is still plural ( not singular) in all of these cases. Which also happens to be OP's requested context. – Sifu Jun 16 '14 at 20:05
Good point, I didn't fully read the OP's question, I just read your answer! You're correct :) – Chris Cirefice Jun 16 '14 at 20:07

Sentences 2 and 4 are right.

In this context, I think that 'de' is only used in a negation and when you talk about quantity.

Je ne vois pas de lapins.


Je vois beaucoup de lapins

but not with numbers!

Je vois deux lapins

Note: A negation is not with 'de' when you use the verb 'être'. Then it's just

Je ne suis pas un lapin.

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You have to use "des" when there are many objects (lapin**S** here)

and "de" when there is only one object (1 lapin here)

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Your answer is just the very general case, but there are plenty of exceptions. See accepted answer and comments, – P. Obertelli Jun 3 '14 at 13:34

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