Apprendre la langue Française (Part Sept) – french articles


Source: French Language Guide

General rule is, if there is a French noun, there is always an article preceding it.

In French, articles are required on almost every common noun. They are inflected to agree in gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural) with the noun they determine, though many have only one plural form (not distinguishing between masculine plural and feminine plural). Many also often change form slightly when the word that follows them begins with a vowel sound.

DEFINITE INDEFINITE PARTITIVE
MASCULINE le un du
FEMININE la une de la
IN FRONT OF A VOWEL l’ de l’
PLURAL les des

Tip: When you are learning a new vocabulary, learn the gender of each noun by making your vocabulary lists with a definite or indefinite article for each noun.


There are three kinds of articles in French:

1. Definite articles: le, la, les = the

In some cases, French uses definite articles when English uses no article at all. This applies to group nouns (referring to its entirety);

Les baleines sont les animaux les plus grands du monde. Les humains, en comparaison, sont très petits.
Whales are the largest animals in the world. Humans, by comparison, are very small.

Il pense que les voitures sont l’invention du diable.
He thinks that cars are the invention of the devil.

And this also applies to general nouns.

La guerre est horrible.
War is horrible.

Il faut cultiver l’amour, et eviter la haine et la colère.
We must cultivate love, and avoid hate and anger.

Names are not usually preceded by articles. However the definite article almost always precedes the names of countries except when it follows the prepositions en and de.

la France, l’Égypte, les États-Unis, la Chine

Je vais en France.
I go to France.

Whenever the definite articles le or les follow the prepositions à or de, the preposition and article fuse together.

à de
le au du, de l’
la à la de la, de l’
les aux des

Christine revient demain du Mexique.
Christine returns tomorrow from Mexico.

Pierre parle aux infirmiers.
Pierre is speaking to the nurses.

2. Indefinite articles: un/une = a/an

It is used when referring to a single instance that is a part of a group that consists of many entities.

un oiseau a bird
un acteur an actor
une actrice an actress
une blatte a cockroach

Plural Indefinite Article: des
It is used when referring to more than a single entity. It is not used, however, when general statements are made about a group – statements that are meant to refer to all the entities that make up that group.

Je vois des blattes partout.
I see cockroaches everywhere.

Mon ami vend des fleurs dans le metro.
My friend sells flowers in the subway.

Des oiseaux mangent le fruit de ces arbres.
Birds eat the fruit of these trees.

Des passants ont vu l’accident.
People who were passing by saw the accident.

3. Partitive article: du, de la, de l’

It consists of the preposition of de followed by a definite article.

It is frequently used before a singular noun that represents something that can be divided into smaller parts like liquids, wood, food, etc.

Je bois du vin rouge pour le dîner. Marie boit de la bière.
I drink red wine during dinner. Mary drinks beer.

Coupez nous du bois pour le feu.
Cut us some wood for the campfire.

The partitive article indicates an unknown quantity of something, usually food or drink. It is often omitted in English.

Avez-vous bu du thé ?
Did you drink some tea?

J’ai mangé de la salade hier.
I ate salad yesterday.

Nous allons prendre de la glace.
We’re going to have some ice cream.

Partitive article vs Definite article: The partitive is usually used when discussing eating or drinking, because one normally only eats some butter, cheese, etc., not all of it. If you want to say that you eat all of something, use the definite article.

J’ai mangé du gâteau.
I ate some cake (one piece).

J’ai mangé le gâteau.
I ate the cake (the whole thing).

Partitive article vs Indefinite article: The partitive indicates that the quantity is unknown or uncountable. When the quantity is known/countable, use the indefinite article (or a number).

Il a mangé de la tarte.
He ate some pie.

Il a préparé une tarte.
He made a pie.

After adverbs of quantity, de is used instead of the partitive article.

Il y a beaucoup de thé.
There is a lot of tea.

J’ai moins de glace que Carlos.
I have less ice cream than Carlos.

In a negative construction, the partitive article changes to de, meaning any:

J’ai mangé de la soupe / Je n’ai pas mangé de soupe.

I ate some soup / I didn’t eat any soup.

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2 Responses to Apprendre la langue Française (Part Sept) – french articles

  1. Julio says:

    C´est très bien expliqué et très claire. Je le vais utiliser comme recours dans ma classe.

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