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I have passed this https://french-online.ru/articletest/ test (72 %, congrats me) but the first answer was wrong and it is confusing me.

J’aime ... croissants avec ... beurre.

Okay, "croissant" is a countable noun, but even if it hadn’t be - after aimer there shouldn’t be a partitive article, so, anyway J’aime les croissants is right.

But why is "beurre" used with a partitive article? I thought I should use it if I talked about certain, definite nouns, i.e. with definition, like "Le champ couvert de neige/ du neige blanche"; if there is no definition I thought I shoudl just use "de" in case of the noun being uncountable, and an article in the case of a countable noun.

Isn't it so?

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There is something not quite usual in this locution; the only solution from those proposed is "Jaime les croissants avec du beurre." and so the test is quite right from the point of view of grammar and context. However, the context is quite rare. The usual locution is "croissant au beurre" (J'aime les croissants au beurre.). Croissants "au beurre" are croissants that are made using butter rather than some other type of fat. You can't say "avec du beurre" in this context.
If you were to say "avec du beurre" you would be talking about quite something else, something that a certain number of French people themselves might not undertand because it describes a practice that few people only know of or follow. It consists in splitting a croissant into two parts lengthwise and then spreading butter on the inside; you can spread it onto one only of the two pieces, then join the two parts together as a sandwich, and that definitely makes for a buttery taste. You can also spread the butter onto each side and eat them separately.

In this second (and rare) context the partitive makes sense then. Nevertheless, consider that in

  • "Les croissants au (à le) beurre sont fabriqués avec du (de le) beurre."

you do use the partitive again when talking about what they are made with ( a certain amount out of the whole mass); it's the same idea as for the "croissant avec du beurre".


"De" here would mean "that are made out of butter", only butter or mostly butter: du pain de blé, de la farine de mais… Do you get it? You wouldn't have "avec" though: "des croissants de beurre". This, of course doesn't exit.

As you seemed to know about partitive in French, I assumed, however, that you knew about the contraction: "de le ==> du" for masculine nouns.

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  • But even why du why not just de? – Артур Клочко Dec 8 '19 at 13:50
  • @АртурКлочко "De" here would mean "that are made out of butter", only butter or mostly butter: du pain de blé, de la farine de mais… Do you get it? You wouldn't have "avec" though: "des croissants de beurre". This, of course doesn't exit. – LPH Dec 8 '19 at 13:57
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    @АртурКлочко I assumed, however, that you knew about the contraction: de le ==> du for masculine nouns. – LPH Dec 8 '19 at 14:03
  • You're right about the different meaning between "au beurre" vs "avec du beurre". I'm not too sure though about the low amount of people knowing that practice. Maybe that's a cultural difference between France and Belgium but in Belgium it doesn't seem so odd. At least not more odd than "les croissants avec de la confiture". – Laurent S. Dec 9 '19 at 11:01
  • @LaurentS. That's interesting; I wouldn't say it's odd as this adjective implies possibly something strange. It just seems rare. In France, at least for the little part of it where I could see for myself, I can remember of only one spell when I saw some people doing that, which , of course, prompted me to try. – LPH Dec 9 '19 at 11:54
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La phrase couramment utilisée en français est :

J'aime les croissants au beurre.

Ce qui signifie que les croissants sont réalisés avec une pâte (feuilletée) contenant du beurre.

J’aime les croissants avec du beurre.

Signifie des croissants avec du beurre ajouté par dessus, ce qui est grammaticalement correct mais n'est pas employé dans le langage courant.

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