Note: I am going on both Google translate and about 18 year out-of-date French classes, so it's possible that this is a simple question.

Presume my question is "What do you want to eat?" (Est-ce que vous voudrais manger? right?)

In English, I might answer "Cheerios with milk". I believe that the direct translation into French would be "Cheerios avec du lait". Presuming this is true and it's something you'd say in French, why is it not "Des Cheerios..."? Or is it and I'm translating wrong?

Now, if I say "I would like Cheerios with milk", it does become "Je veux des cheerios avec du lait", is that right? If so, why would the "des" come in this sentence but not the previous?

  • Welcome! Forget translation, you have to reassess grammar here, otherwise it will always be a shot in the dark. See this question for starters, along with this.
    – user19187
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 18:17

2 Answers 2


First of all, the correct translation for

What do you want to eat?


Qu'est-ce que vous voulez manger?


Qu'est-ce que tu veux manger?

if you know the person and can use the "tu" pronoun. If you want to be more polite, then you would say:

Que voudriez vous manger?

but then that's more akin to:

What would you like to eat?

With respect to the answer, I would translate

Cheerios with milk


Des cheerios avec du lait

and not:

Cheerios avec du lait

I believe the "des" is necessary for the answer to be in correct French. Likewise, if you say

I would like cheerios with milk

that would also require the "des":

Je veux/voudrais des cheerios avec du lait

I can't think of any circumstance where you wouldn't use du/des/de la.

  • 3
    Note that "aimerais" (qu'est-ce que tu aimerais manger ?) is better than "veux" because "vouloir" is close to "exiger" ("demand"). My grandmother uses to tell me "on ne dit pas je veux mais j'aimerais" and I think she is right regarding what I've just explained ;) Even if in practise lots of people would use "vouloir".
    – purerstamp
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 13:38

When you are talking about cheerios, you find yourself in exactly le same context as when talking about peas. In French each of the little rings is a cheerio;

L'encyclopédie libre … première fois le bol de céréales garni de fraises, accompagné d'un Cheerio sur le « i » de la marque.

                                        enter image description here

As when you say "I eat peas." in English, in French you have to say "Je mange des petits pois.", then, when you say "I eat Cheerios." in English (you don't eat the brand then …), in French you have to say "Je mange des cheerios.". It should be as simple as that (unless there are people that need unecessary complications).

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