Indefinite and definite articles

Artikles in French precede nouns.

 

Masculine

Feminine

Plural number

Indefinite article

un

une

des

Definite article

le

la

les

Before the vowel letter or the silent h, the definite article in singular form of both genders takes the form l'.

But the indefinite article of the plural transforms to the preposition de, if there is an adjective before a noun.

For example:

• de longues rues - long streets

• de vieux arbres - old trees

• de grands hommes - great people

This does not apply to stable combinations (adjective + noun):

• des petites filles - girls

• des jeunes filles – young women

• des petits pois - pies

• des petits pâtés - patties

If after un, des and les there is a noun that begins with a vowel or silent h, there is a ligature:

  • un ami [œ̃nami]
  • des amis [dezami]
  • les amis [lezami]

What do definite and indefinite articles mean?

The indefinite article usually means:

1) un – one (masculine), une – one (feminine);

2) some, unknown to the interlocutors;

3) one of several homogeneous objects;

4) any;

5) something mentioned for the first time.

 

Examples:

J'ai un livre. - I have (one, some, a) book.

As-tu des amis à Moscou? - Do you have (any) friends in Moscow?

De petits enfants jouent dans la cour. - (some) small children play in the yard.

Une voiture s'est arrêtée devant la maison. - Before the house (some, unknown, first mentioned) car stopped.

Donnez-moi une revue, s'il vous plaît. - Give me, please, (some, a) magazine.

 

The definite article usually means the following:

1) this, the one given;

2) known to the interlocutors;

3) a generalized or averaged representative of a class, a category, a species, and for uncountable nouns the concept as a whole;

4) the only one of its kind or in this situation;

5) the above mentioned, repeatedly mentioned, some which we have already met.

 

Examples:

Comment trouves-tu le café? - Assez bon. – What do you think about this coffee? - It's pretty tasty.

Regarde les étoiles; elles sont si belles dans le ciel noir. - Look at the stars; they are so beautiful in the black sky.

Le chien est l'ami de l'homme. - A dog is a friend of a person.

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