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If I said "chicken leg" (or leg of chicken), I'm pretty sure it would be "cuisse de poulet", but if I said "majority of people" it would be "majorite des gens". So why doesn't the first phrase have a definite article (i.e cuisse du poulet), and what is the general rule?

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There won't be a definite article behind DE ever when it defines the quantity of something.

  • Une cuisse de poulet
  • Beaucoup de travail
  • Un morceau de pain
  • Un peu de tranquilité
  • Une carafe d'eau

Here, DE is specifying what these quantities are about.
DE can therefore be translated as of something.

But, DE must be followed by a definite article when it precedes a word alone. For instance:

  • De la tranquilité
  • De l'eau
  • De l'herbe
  • Du travail (Why putting du here? you may ask. Well, the very thing to know is that DU is the combination of DE + LE. As travail is masculine, you won't say de le travail, you say du)
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