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Hello,

I'd like to be a bit clearer in deciding to use whether "des" or "les".

 

In the following sentence, is there a specific reason why "des" is used? Why can't I use "les" instead of "des"? Finally will you please give me a specific rule in using "des" or "les"? Thanks.

 

 

Elle a des crayons.

 

 

Sincerely,

Tuba

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Hi Tuba!

"Elle a des crayons."

means "She has pencils." or "She has some pencils." It's not specified exactly which pencils she has. In this case, des is used as the "article indéfini". It's basically the plural form of "un":

"Elle a un crayon." — "She has a pencil." 
"Elle a le crayon." — "She has the pencil."

"Elle a les crayons."

means "She has the pencils." it refers to a specific set of pencils, or it may be referring to a set of pencils previously mentioned in the conversation. 

So there may be exceptions to the rule, but use "les" when you are mentioning a specific group of objects, or objects that were already brought up in the conversation. Use "des" when the specific group hasn't been brought up before, or when the group itself isn't important, but the objects are. 

I hope this helps!

Jim
Thanks a lot, a veryt clear answer to my question.
Tuba,
There's another important part of the rule I forgot to mention:
Use "les" when you're referring to all examples a type of thing (or people, or any other class of noun), or a thing in general. 

For example:

"Elle a les livres." means "She has the books." and not just "She has books."

But

"Elle aime les livres." can mean both "She likes books."(in general, meaning any and all books. She likes reading.), or "She likes the books." (the specific ones mentioned earlier, or the ones she's holding, etc.)

It depends on the verb you're using, and the noun the verb is taking as its complement.

All these examples refer to plural nouns, that is, things which are countable. (two books, three books, one million books). But these ideas apply to un-countable nouns as well, which can't be plural. For example,
"rain" or "bread". 

"Elle aime la pluie." can mean "She likes the rain." (the rain that is falling right now), or "She likes rain." (in general, every time it rains, the idea of rain/water falling from the sky).

And

"Elle aime le pain." can mean "she likes the bread."(which her mother just baked) or "she likes bread." (all types of bread, bread in general)

Jim
Thanks guys...........that was a great help............thanks a lot

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