5

I have been told that you always use 'beaucoup de':

I understand the below should use 'de'

J'ai mangé beaucoup de sandwichs (I ate lots of sandwiches)

However, I was told even when you are saying 'lots of the sandwiches', you still use 'de', which I am not satisfied with:

J'ai mangé beaucoup des sandwichs que ma mère a preparé (I ate lots of the sandwiches that my mum made)

Should 'de' be used in the above or can you use 'des' in a case when you are referring to specific things?

6

You're right, it would make no sense to use de in that situation. "Beaucoup de sandwiches" means "many sandwiches", not "many of the sandwiches."

In my view, there is nothing wrong with "beaucoup des sandwiches que ma mère a préparés." (But note the agreement of préparés with its direct object sandwiches.)

It may be that the person you spoke to feels that "beaucoup des sandwiches" is not acceptable, or not elegant, and didn't really understand what you were getting at, so they suggested "beaucoup de." An alternative would be "plusieurs des sandwiches que ma mère a préparés."

  • 1
    I would say that "beaucoup des sandwiches" is acceptable in some situations but a bit sloppy; another neater alternative is "la plupart des sandwiches" which means "most of the sandwiches". – a3nm Jun 27 '15 at 14:08
  • I have restored the plural sandwiches that was edited out by Jillagre, who seems to insist on the reformed spellings. – Keith Jun 27 '15 at 19:58
  • @Stéphane Gimenez Could you please explain why my spelling has being repeatedly corrected? Have you looked at the Wiktionary entry here: fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/sandwich that says both spellings are acceptable? My 1993 Robert also lists both spellings, and the TLFI quotes the Robert too: Plur. ROB. 1985: ,,des sandwiches ou plus rarement des sandwichs` Is there a rule that the reformed spellings must be used? – Keith Jun 27 '15 at 20:25
  • Throughout the revisions and rollback the spelling in your second paragraph's parenthetical has remained unchanged (But note the agreement of préparés with its direct object sandwiches), which perhaps you can interpret as a compromise meaning, as you note above, that both spellings are acceptable. – Papa Poule Jun 27 '15 at 20:44
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    @Papa Poule If I saw somebody else write sandwichs I wouldn't edit their work to change half of those words to sandwiches "as a compromise." – Keith Jun 27 '15 at 22:10
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There are two aspects in your question:

  1. the quantification over sandwich
  2. the quantification over time

« J'ai mangé beaucoup de sandwichs que ma mère a préparés. »
=> “I ate lots of sandwiches made by my mum.”

This says nothing about sandwiches made by mum I did not eat and nothing either about how many times mum prepared sandwiches. I might have eaten lots of mum-made sandwiches over time.

« J'ai mangé beaucoup des sandwichs que ma mère a préparés »
=> I ate a lot of the sandwiches my mum made.

This says I did not eat all the sandwiches made by mum and also seems to imply that we are talking about one lot of sandwiches mum made that one time.

The first sentence is a sort of indefinite, the second is a sort of partitive.

1

When you are referring to specific things, you use definite articles. In the case of a plural, it is "les".

Now, "beaucoup de les" is unacceptable, since "de les" always contracts as "des".

In your example, the sandwiches are not generic; they are those your mother prepared, so a specific thing. Your example is perfectly fine!

Now, when speaking of generic things, this would be another business:

I ate lots of sandwiches.
J'ai mangé beaucoup de sandwiches.

It is however the same logic as in English. Your instinct seems better to me than what you were told. I cannot think of any counter example at the moment.

1

Devant un nom, l'usage est beaucoup de, quand ce nom est une entité.

Ici sandwich défini un type de nourriture préparé par la maman, et non un sandwich particulier.

Pour cet exemple beaucoup des n'est pas correct, car on se réfère à une seule entité : l'entité sandwich.

Mais pour : "Beaucoup des sandwiches que ma mère a préparé étaient délicieux !" des est correct, on peut distinguer un sandwich d'un autre, et tous ne l'était pas forcément.

Beaucoup de pain a été perdu (entité),
Beaucoup des pains de seigle n'ont pas été vendus (collection d'objets).

Beaucoup d'eau a débordé du fleuve.
Beaucoup des eaux du fleuve ont débordé.

Voir les exercices pour choisir la bonne formule.
Exemples bilingues.

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    Pour le moinsoyeur compulsif : Il est dans charte de ce site de justifier son vote négatif, au moins pour faciliter l'amélioration des réponses. – cl-r Rendez confiance à FL Jun 27 '15 at 12:22
  • Avant ou après le verbe ne change rien, les deux sont possibles. Voir le deuxième exemple dans la réponse de GAM PUB. – Stéphane Gimenez Jun 27 '15 at 20:04
  • @StéphaneGimenez - Réponse modifiée. C'est surtout pour l'avoir entendu dire avec emphase que j'ai ce modèle en mémoire, et aussi parce que l'on corrige les enfants lorsqu'ils ne précisent pas ce beaucoup : "J'ai mangé beaucoup des [au lieu de de] gâteaux." "J'ai mangé beaucoup des petits gâteaux, et quelques gros aussi."... (Mais là encore, j'ai instinctivement commencé mon exemple par beaucoup... avant de le reformuler :) ) – cl-r Rendez confiance à FL Jun 27 '15 at 20:34

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