Julie et Marc sont de bons amis

Would "Julie et Marc sont bons amis" also be correct?

  • 5
    It's an indefinite plural article, de is used instead of des before an adjective. (See the last point of french.stackexchange.com/a/11570/176). Your alternative is also correct, but there is a slight nuance between the two, I'd not use them in the same contexts but I'd be hard-pressed to give rules without looking at references. If nobody comes, I'll try to make an answer later on. Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 7:53
  • Thank you. I feel I should know this but, to be honest, French articles always trip me up. This example is especially tricky perhaps because I can't translate the "de" with "some" or "any" as is often the case with "de".
    – Penelope
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 9:01
  • @Unfrancophone Sorry for the intrusion, but does this mean that if the adjective comes after the noun ('amis fidèles', for example), the full 'des' would be used ('des amis fidèles')? And, if you don't mind me asking you one more thing, what about if an adverb is used to modify the 'bons' ('très / extrêmement / vraiment bons amis', for example), would it be 'de' or 'des' with such adjectival phrases when they precede the noun? (+1 for your comment/answer, BTW)
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 17:31
  • @Claudie This has absolutely no basis in French grammar so please don't quote me, but as a non-native student of French who looks for, like you seem to, some version of 'any' / 'some' when faced with partitive uses/forms of "de", I like to think that the "de", especially when following 'etre', takes the sense of '[really] SOME kind of" as used positively & not ironically (as in the expression: 'really some kind of wonderful'). Although my interpretation is certainly wrong, it at least helps me as a crutch to find the 'some' that my anglophone mind expects when confronting the partitive "de."
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 18:47
  • @PapaPoule, des amis fidèles, de très bons amis. Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


First of all, note that your first sentence Julie et Marc sont de bons amis could mean two things:

  • Julie and Marc are good friends "together".
  • Julie and Marc are both good friend of the people speaking.

However your second sentence Julie et Marc sont bons amis can only mean they are good friends "together". Other than that, these two sentences are pretty similar if you're using the "friends together" meaning.

If you're wondering why "de" is being used, you could translate it to "some", meaning they are good friends, but they are not the only possible friends they could have.

The following doesn't sound nice in french, but for the example: Julie et Marc sont les bons amis (à avoir) would have added a nuance that they are possibly the best friends you could have.

  • Thank you. It seems crazy that I have learnt French for so long and somehow have never come to grips with the concept of the plural indefinite article! I found your comment about translating the "de" as "some [of the larger group of possible friends]" very helpful and a great insight into how a Francophone conceptualises "de". Merci :)
    – Penelope
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 8:55
  • Glad to help :) Wish you the best of luck
    – Cédric D
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 10:36

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