I'm a little bit confused to why "de" is added in:

Éprouver de la joie.

I thought "éprouver" is systematically followed by "de" but in this example (from Collins dictionary), we don't add it:

Qu'est-ce que tu éprouves à ce moment-là?


Qu’est-ce que tu en éprouves ?


De quoi est-ce que tu éprouves?

I also thought that "Joie" is generally preceded by "de" but in a lot of examples I found online, it's only preceded by "la":

Ces réunions se passent toujours dans la joie.

  • article partitif (du/de la/des) - it is like saying some, like in some water vs. all the water
    – Roger V.
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 10:14

1 Answer 1


De la is not a preposition in your sentence but a partitive article.

The verb éprouver is not necessarily followed by de:

J'éprouve une joie intense à ce moment-là. (indefinite article)

J'éprouve la joie de la jardinière qui voit son travail porter ses fruits. Savante folle (definite article)

Devant ses plans naïfs, et si sincères, j’éprouve joie et admiration, la fraîcheur de ses idées me ferait presque croire qu’un monde meilleur est possible Enfant végé (zero article)

What precedes joie depends on what joie it is about:

  1. Some amount of joy: de la joie

  2. A given joy: la joie (+ complement)

  3. Some joy: une joie (+ adjective)

  • True, but this doesn't answer why you can't just éprouver la joie. I feel you can't instinctively, but I couldn't explain why when I read this question. Compare a Daniel Lavoie lyric about finding Nirvana and losing it again, « que ce soit noyé dans la tristesse, ou bien perdu dans l'allégresse ». Why does the definite work there but not here? Or could both definite and indefinite be possible in the cases?
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 13:36
  • @LukeSawczak It can definitely be followed by la too: j’éprouve la joie de la jardinière qui voit son travail porter ses fruits. (savantefolle.wordpress.com/2021/08)
    – jlliagre
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 14:09
  • Well, of course, but that's the definite of the genitive, rather than just definite on its own. I take it you can't just « éprouver la joie » or « la tristesse », then? What about « que ce soit noyé dans de la tristesse » ?
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 15:00
  • 1
    @LukeSawczak It would be possible to say J'éprouve la joie but only if that precise joy has already been mentioned so that wouldn't be very different from my example. Joie and éprouver are not that different from eau and boire: Je bois de l'eau, Je bois l'eau de la fontaine, Je bois une eau qui a été aromatisée au citron.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 16:00
  • 1
    @Manar Feelings are only measurable by intensity/level. They are also uncountable in English : joy, sorrow
    – jlliagre
    Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 6:33

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