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Complete post:

Apr

13

2012

de nouveaux films, de gros problèmes, de vieilles maisons

... but, des gros mots

One of our listeners wondered about two expressions that surfaced in Lesson 133.

The expression de bons films (good films) was used and so, too, was the term des gros mots (curse words, swear words).

The issue that arises relates to partitive articles, that is, du, de la, des, de l' (which mean 'some' or 'any'). These contract to simply de before adjectives which precede the noun.

So, what about des gros mots? Why does the contraction of the partitive article not apply? Well, we must consider the term gros mots as a kind of 'compound noun', that is, a single entity in its own right. Des gros mots are swear words, offensive language, etc. As a compound noun, there is consequently no contraction of des to de.

So, we'll find references to des enfants qui disent des gros mots, that is, 'children who swear'.

Alternatively, we may offer advice to tous ceux qui disent des gros mots or 'all those who swear/curse'.

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