I am reading the book "Petit Pays," and I've come across the following sentence:

"Maman lui rétorquait que ses enfants étaient des petits Français, qu'il ne fallait pas nous ennuyer avec leurs histoires de Rwandais."

As I understand it, when using the partitive with a plural noun...

  • you change "de" to "des," unless,
  • there is an adjective before the noun

I'm wondering why the sentence uses the phrase "des petits Français" instead of "de petits Français?" Thanks!

1 Answer 1


The answer is found here : when the adjective and the noun form a sort of compound noun (jeunes hommes, petits joueurs, petits garçons…) there is no change. That's the case for « petit français » which means "young people from France (children before puberty, adolescents)"; otherwise, were we to write "de petits français" we'd be sayind "french people with a short stature".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.