Common French Mistake: Beaucoup des

Girl holding many chocolate Easter Eggs

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Mistakes will always be made in French, and now you can learn from them. One common beginner mistake is always using beaucoup des when expressing a large quantity.

Explanation of Beaucoup des Versus Beaucoup de

Beaucoup des is not always wrong—just most of the time. Like other adverbs of quantity, beaucoup is nearly always followed by de, with no article:

   J'ai beaucoup de temps
   I have a lot of time

   Tu as beaucoup d'amis
   You have many friends

   C'est un détail de peu d'importance
   It's a minor detail, a detail of little importance

In the above examples, the nouns are unspecific.

They refer to time, friends, and importance in general. The only time beaucoup de and the other adverbs of quantity can be followed by a definite article is when they are referring to something specific, as in these examples:

   J'ai acheté une chemise dont beaucoup des boutons s'étaient détachés
   I bought a shirt that a lot of the buttons had come off of
   (I'm talking about the specific buttons on this particular shirt)

   Beaucoup des idées de Jean-Luc sont intéressantes
   A lot of Jean-Luc's ideas are interesting
   (I'm not referring to ideas in general, but rather the specific ideas that Jean-Luc has)

In most cases, if you can translate the French as "a lot of the" + noun or "a lot of ___'s" + noun, you use the definite article. Otherwise, if you only say "a lot of" + noun in English, just use de. (There are undoubtedly exceptions to this rule, but it should help you in most cases.)