I have the sentence: Je n'aimais pas (les/des/de) légumes et je refusais d'en manger.

I was taught in French class to use 'de' after a negative always.

I asked one of my friends who was French, he corrected it to 'les'. Now I'm confused... Please help :)

  • I'll let someone with more knowledge than I have give you a full answer, but I think this is to do with generality, so you need to use the definite article - I did not like vegetables (in general). However, de is used in the negative in place of the indefinite and partitive article (e.g. du, de la, une, un etc). – craig_h Nov 27 '16 at 15:07

I was taught in French class to use 'de' after a negative always.

You were taught wrong or you learned the rule wrong. The rule is: replace an indefinite article, such as un, une or des, with de in a negative sentence. (There are some possible exceptions to this, as described here, but it's generally a good guide.) A definite article, such as le, la or les, remains the same in a negative sentence. You cannot replace it with de; that would change the meaning.

Your friend suggested using les here simply because in French the definite article is used to refer to things in general. "Vegetables" in English translates to "les légumes" in French. See the answers to the following question for more information about using the definite article after the verb aimer: La difference entre « j'aime le fromage » et « j'aime du fromage » (The difference is that the first is correct, and the second isn't)

  • j'aime du fromage?? J'aimerais du fromage (I'd like some cheese). wrong is not an adverb.... – Lambie Nov 27 '16 at 17:18
  • @Lambie: I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean with the first two sentences of your comment. I think the answers and comments at the linked post explain both that "J'aime du fromage" is wrong and that "j'aimerais du fromage" is right. I am using "wrong" as an adverb in the first sense defined here: ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=wrong – sumelic Nov 27 '16 at 17:29
  • Ok, then I would have said that. When a person says A as compared to B, it sounds like both are right but they are different. Whereas here, as you say, one is right and one is wrong. No worries. – Lambie Nov 27 '16 at 18:03

Je n'aime pas les légumes. I don't like vegetables. That is a general statement and in French you have to use the definite article.

As a general rule and without going into every way to use de, des, de la and d', these partitive prepositions are used to express some, any or an s.

Would you like some cake? Voulez-vous DU gateau?[literally, some of this cake]. Non, je ne veux pas de gateau. [I don't want cake or any cake].

So, there is a regular negative sentence: Je n'aime pas les légumes. versus: I ate some vegetables. J'ai mangé des légumes. [some vegetables or some of the vegetables or just vegetables, it depends on the context].


1- du, de la, des, quelques, un peu de... sont utilisés pour faire allusion à une quantité concrète de quelque chose que l'on PRESENTE. Je veux dire quelque chose dont on présente le NOM.

Je te sers de la soupe?

Du chocolat, tu en veux?

Je t'ai acheté des mouchoirs.

Il y avait quelques enfants à la soirée.

2- On REPREND après une négation ce qui a été PRESENTE auparavant pour en dire autre chose.Il n'y a plus alors aucune allusion à une quantité quelle qu'elle soit.

Je ne veux pas DE soupe, merci.

Je ne mange jamais DE chocolat.

Je n'ai pas besoin DE mouchoirs.

Tu rêves! Il n'y avait pas D'enfants à la soirée.

3- On peut aussi dire:

Je n'aime pas LA soupe. Il s'agit alors de parler de la soupe en général.

Non, merci. Je déteste LE chocolat. Il s'agit ici aussi du chocolat en général.


In general, “pas de” is used.


  1. Je ne bois pas de jus d'orange. I do not drink orange juice.
  2. Nous n'achetons pas de chaussures. We are not buying shoes.

Preference verbs (aimer, préférer, détester, adorer) ALWAYS use definite article (la/le/les/l’) BOTH in positive and negative constructions.


  1. J'adore la bibliothéque. I love the library.
  2. Elle n'aime pas les lapins. She does not like rabbits.
  3. Tu ne préfères pas la nuit. He does not prefer night.

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