I couldn't find an answer to this question despite searching, however, I'm sure it must have been asked before!
I would like to know when to use le/la/les, du/de/des, etc. and when not to use them.
I am using Duolingo to learn French and it has a phrase for translation: Haricots et du pain - Beans and bread. Why isn't it Les haricots et du pain or Des haricots et du pain? My understanding is that des, du, etc. mean something like "some", so "Beans and bread" usually means the same as "Some beans and some bread" I eat ~, He has ~ but not ~ are food.
I am finding it difficult to remember to add les, des, etc. where there is no word at all used in the English phrase. I like strawberries - J'aime les fraises is something like "I like all strawberries", whereas I am eating strawberries - Je mange des fraises is something like "I am eating some strawberries".
However, my understanding seems to be imperfect. Sometimes des seems to make more sense but les is correct or vice versa. How can I remember which one to use? And why does haricots have neither?
I was just asked to translate You sell shoes so I said Vous vendez les chaussures. The app said it was wrong and I should have said Vous vendez des chaussures. I was following the pattern of J'aime les fraises. I might say You are selling some shoes but I wouldn't say You sell some shoes as in English it indicates habitual activity and some doesn't mean the same thing. I would only say it if you are selling different things and only some of them are shoes and I wanted to emphasise the difference. You sell some shoes and some clothes. So why can I say J'aime les fraises but not Vous vendez les chaussures?
Why does Il connaît les femmes translate to He knows women (in general)? He obviously can't know all women, so why isn't the English phrase He knows the women (some specific women) or the French phrase Il connaît des femmes (He knows some unspecified women)? If the meaning was He knows what women are like or He knows the nature of women would it be better to say Il sait les femmes?
les and des are still not making sense to me!