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I've noticed in my reading that plupart doesn't obey the same rule as beaucoup and other words, where de la/du/des/de l' becomes de.

For instance, it's "beaucoup de temps" but la plupart du temps.

Why is that? Does plupart not count as an "amount modifier," so to speak?

It sort of makes sense if I translate literally to English-- "most of the time", "a lot of time," but I'm not sure if it's so simple as that.

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You say very different things when you say "beaucoup de temps" and "la plupart du temps".

Like you said it's equivalent to "a lot of time" vs "most of the time":

when you say "beaucoup de temps" you're counting units of time, or rather gauging because it's uncountable.

When you say "la plupart du temps" (or "tout le temps"), you're expressing fractions of the time as a whole.

It's the same difference between "a lot of sugar" and "most of the cake". It's completely different things you're measuring.

  • Agreed. Also, consider the more syntactically exact parallel of a container vs. a fraction: "la boîte de riz" vs. "la plupart du riz". A box of rice is more specific than just a box; it's a way to specify a kind of box. But with "plupart", the rice already exists and can be referred to with the definite article -- some of it is just being referred to specifically. – Luke Sawczak Feb 1 '17 at 0:06
  • Could you expand just a little by providing other examples of things that fall into each category? Like other words that act like beaucoup here and other words that act like plupart here? – temporary_user_name Feb 1 '17 at 0:09
  • "Plupart" probably comes from something like "plus de parties (de qqch)", which would underscore the idea of counting fractions of time in "plupart". – Frank Feb 1 '17 at 2:37
  • @Aerovistae Like beaucoup de in this regard: plus de, moins de, peu de, trop de. Like la plupart de in this regard: la majorité de, la plus grande partie de, un grand nombre de. – Luke Sawczak Feb 1 '17 at 3:20
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    @LukeSawczak That's right, except for "un grand nombre de" which acts like beaucoup de, not la plupart de. Also, it can't be used with temps. I'll add that you can construct lots of phrases with partie, i.e. une petite partie de, la majeure partie de, etc. – Teleporting Goat Feb 1 '17 at 9:40

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