I would like to know the rules of using the verb manquer followed by noun. Let's take an example that is listed on the Wiktionary page (manquer de). It says in part:

manquer de \mɑ̃.ke də\ transitif (se conjugue, voir la conjugaison de manquer)

  1. Ne pas avoir en quantité suffisante.

    • Manquer d’argent, de vivres, de munitions, etc.

    • Manquer du nécessaire.

    • Manquer de mémoire.

    • Manquer de courage, de résolution.

    • Manquer d’occasions.

My question is 'Why do we say 'manquer du nécessaire' and not 'manquer de nécessaire'? In the same vein, why do we then say 'manquer de courage' and not 'manquer du courage'?

I assume this has something to do with gender of a noun, but why are there the above differences (when both nouns are masculine)?

3 Answers 3


The verb "manquer" can be used with "de" as described in the page you quote.

[Quelqu'un] manque de [quelque chose]

"courage", "résolution", "mémoire", "vivres" , etc. refer to uncountable notions or undefined amounts of countable things, as you could say "some courage" or "some money" in English. So you don't have to add an article between "de" and the noun. This is the normal use.

The difference of "nécessaire" is that "le nécessaire" refers to a precise number of things which are considered necessary for a human being. Here "nécessaire" is an adjective used as a noun. So, you can't omit the definite article. You should say "manquer de le nécessaire". But you can't say "de le" in French : it's shortened as "du". So you have to say "manquer du nécessaire". This is an exception.

  • 1
    you can add some mixed cases like: manquer de temps / du temps nécessaire, de courage / du courage. As soon as the noun (even uncountable) is well-defined, it is possible to use du/de la. Jan 18, 2016 at 12:04
  • For instance : "Il manque de courage" vs "Il lui manque du courage"
    – Random
    Jan 18, 2016 at 15:04
  • 2
    @Random, this is another construction: il lui manque ... = il (impersonnel) + lui (= à lui) manque , like il me faut . Jan 18, 2016 at 18:51
  • "Le" refer to a precise number of one (article défini) thing.
    – imrok
    Jan 19, 2016 at 14:53

In these sort of construction, the article will often reappear if the noun has an accompanying article (as pointed out by guillaume) or preposition phrase. However, since many manquer de+noun combinations are partially set phrases, this is an uncommon instance. The more set a phrase is, the harder it is to construct it with an article (manquer des occasions shifts the sentence to an entirely different meaning of manquer).

In the case of nécessaire, this is a nominalization by elision of the noun. This retains the quality of the full construction, which would fall within the situation guillaume points out and thus requires the presence of the article. The article naturally merges with the preceding preposition (de le is outright forbidden in French).


For words that there's no way to measure the amount like love, water, patience , etc or in other words that you can't divide will require "de, du or de la"

De: will be used for masculine nouns If you have a masculine noun + le: you'll have to use "de l'" if the next word starts with a vowel In case you have a feminine noun you'll use "de la" or "de l'" (for the same reason if the following word starts with a vowel)

Ex: I want love= je veux de l'amour (love is masculine, you cannot measure it & starts with a vowel)

Ex2: I want water= je veux de l'eau (water is feminine & starts with a vowel)

  • 1
    The word you are looking for is (un)countable (to define if you can divide it or not) :)
    – Random
    Jan 18, 2016 at 15:05

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