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French Articles – Commonly Used Words

French Articles

A guide to French articles – Les articles français

Oh la la…les articles français.

French is one of the oldest languages still spoken in the world, and throughout history l’Academie Française made sure that French is “plus-que-parfait”. Additionally, they succeeded as French is considered to be the most beautiful spoken language. However, my oh my how foreigners are struggling when studying French. The process becomes more confusing when it comes to the French articles. Moreover, They have to agree with gender, number and even the first letter of nouns.

Before we go deeper into the issue of the articles, here’s a tip on to guessing the gender of the nouns in French. Most of the time (70% of the time) the nouns that end on an “e” are feminine, although there are many exceptions so it’s still best to memorize the gender once you learn a new noun.

There are three different types of articles in French, such as:

  • Definite articles ( la, le, l’, les) stand for “the “ in English
  • Indefinite articles (un, une, des) stand for “ an/a “ in English
  • Partitive articles ( du, de la, des, de l’) stand for “some/any“ in English

The definite articles

Using definite article such as:

  • when we’re talking about something specific

For example:
Napoleon est le chien de Margot.
Napoleon is Margot’s  dog. (the only one/ THE dog)

  • when the noun was already mentioned or we assume it is generally known

For example:
J’adore les avocats.
I love(the) avocados.

The indefinite articles

Using indefinite articles such as:

  • when we’re referring to something that’s unspecified

For example:
Napoleon est un chien de Margot.
Napoleon is a dog of Margot. (one of several)

  • when something is mentioned for the first time

For example:
J’ai acheté un avocat.
I bought an avocado.

The partitive articles

Using partitive article:

  • for uncountable nouns

For example:
Tu peux acheter de l’eau et du pain ?
Could you buy some water and bread ?

  • with abstract nouns (such as verbs like avoir and falloir)

For example:
J’ai de la peine pour toi.
I feel sorry for you.

  • for  instruments, sports and other activities (when practicing)

For example:
Il joue de la guitare.     He plays guitar.
Il fait du droit.              He(does) practices law.
Il fait de l’équitation.   He goes horse-riding. (as in practice)

Here are a couple of exercises for you to practice what you’ve learned today

Use the correct article such as:

la/le/l’/les  …. chien  (the dog) m
la/le/l’/les  …. caserolles (the pots) p
la/le/l’/les  …. cartable (the backpack) m
la/le/l’/les  …. table (the table)f
la/le/l’/les  …. avion (the plane)m

un/une/des …. pommes (apples)
un/une/des …. fourchette (a fork)
un/une/des …. amendement (an amendement)

du/de la/ des/ de l’ …. confiture  (some jam)
du/de la/ des/ de l’ …. thé (some tea)
du/ de la/ des/ de l’ …. des gâteaux (some cakes)
du/ de la/ des/ de l’ …. aneth (some dill)

 

 

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