Basically, I am wondering if there is any historical, grammatical, or other possible reason/motivation as to why the indefinite articles are replaced with de/d' in negative sentences (most of the time). Likewise, are there similar reasons for why clauses featuring the verb être are exempt from this rule?

Hope my question is clear!

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    Some examples perhaps? Sep 24, 2019 at 10:17
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    @MathieuBouville There are already numerous examples of de in negative sentences on FL, e.g. here, so there's no need to add more. A link to that question, or another will probably be enough, the question is clear as it is.
    – None
    Sep 24, 2019 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


There is a matter of avoiding ambiguity: what is negated? (Which may not explain all cases.)

Je n'ai pas de mari = I am not married

Je n'ai pas des maris = I am not polygamous (negation of the plural)

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