Definite article in French - le, la, les
How to use the definite article in French
The definite article in French is used in more or less the same way as we use the in English. However, one of the main differences is that in French, there is more than one definite article to choose from. Moreover, all French nouns are either masculine or feminine and, just as in English, they can be either singular or plural.
Forms of the definite article
le père (the father)
la mère (the mother)
l'hirondelle (the swallow)
les pères (the fathers)
les dames (the ladies)
Le and la change to l' when they are used in front of a word starting with a vowel and most words starting with h.
If à or de are placed in front of a definite article they'll be contracted:
|à/de + article||Contracted article||Example|
|á + le||→ au||la mousse au chocolate (chocolate mousse)|
|à + les||→ aux||mentir aux collègues (lie to the colleagues)|
|de + le||→ du||parler du livre (speak about the book)|
|de + les||→ des||à l'ombre des arbres (in the shadow of the trees)|
Exceptional cases of using the definite article
You should be aware that there are some exceptional cases when it comes to using definite articles in French.
1) Abstract & concrete nouns
Different from the English language definite articles in French are used with words that describe qualities, ideas or experiences (= abstract nouns) and things you can touch with your hands (= concret nouns).
- J'ai la grippe. (I've got flu.)
- Je n'ai pas le temps (I don't have time.)
- Je n'aime pas le café. (I don't like coffee.)
2) Countries, continents & regions
ln French you always have to use the definite article in front of the names of countries, continents and regions.
- la Bretagne (Brittany)
- l'Europe (Europe)
- Je viens des États-Unis. (I come from the United States.)
3) Formal addresses
If you use an article in combination with madame or monsieur you have to put the article inbetween.
- Monsieur le Commissaire (Mister Police Inspector)
- Madame la Présidente (Miss President)
4) Use with names
The definite article in French is used before:
- family names in the plural form (les Duponts)
- proper names in the singular form (le jeune Dupont)
- titles (le docteur Knock)
5) Times & days
You use the definite article with dates, and also with the names of the days of the week and the seasons when you are talking about something that you do regularly or that is a habit
- Elle part le 7 mai. (She's leaving on the seventh of May.)
- Je vais chez ma grand-mère le dimanche. (I go to my grandmother's on Sundays.)
- Paris, le 14 juillet 1998. (Paris, on the 14. July 1998.)
Note that you do NOT use the definite article after en.
Practise with a private teacher on Skype!
- Private Skype lessons
- Learn any topic
- Flexible appointments
French, English & Dutch - All levels
I teach: Dutch, English, French
Hi! My name is Bart, I am 31 years old, live in Amsterdam and I'm an advanced English/French/Dutch speaker and teacher. Having lived in... several countries I know what it's like to learn a foreign language and how challenging this can be. During our lessons I will explain how to deal your language difficulties and simplify them for you.I offer teaching for:ENGLISH:- Levels/exams A1,A2,B1,B2,C1- English for high school and students - To improve your English for other reasons (ex: English family, to be more comfortable making conversation, practical/social English) FRENCH:- Levels/exams A1,A2,B1,B2,C1- French for high school and students - To improve your French for other reasons (ex: French family, to be more comfortable making conversation, practical/social French) DUTCH:- A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 levels/exams (including 'INBURGERINGSCURSUS')- Dutch for high school and students- Improving Dutch for OTHER REASONS(Dutch family, just to make conversation, to develop practical/sociallanguage skills etc.)How I teach:1 - Your level and objective(s)At the start we will discuss your level and objectives. This way I can efficiently give you the help that you need. 2 - Open communicationI have an open way of teaching in which I encourage students to keep telling me what their difficulties are or where they would like to improve. In my experience this saves a lot of time and also makes the lessons more fun.3 - Simplify instead of complicateI am good at listening and understanding why students are having difficulties with certain issues. This way I can simplify the issue and teach you Dutch in an easy and understandable way.4 - InvolvedI am involved with my students' objectives and am constantly looking for the best and most efficient way to make progress. I am a positive and optimistic person and this is also how I teach. I focus on how to do it right instead of wasting too much time on why something is wrong. I also prefer to simplify rather than to complicate issues. This creates a pleasant learning atmosphere and makes our lessons more productive and fun.At the same time I am also quite competitive. Once you share your goal(s) or expectations with me I will make sure that we do what it takes to achieve and hopefully exceed them.The reason why I like teaching so much is because I enjoy showing people what they are capable of and to help them achieve their goals. At the same time I am becoming a better teacher after every lesson so, in fact, you are also teaching me :) Read more
Professionnal French courses with a French native and certified teacher
I teach: French
Hello,Are you looking to learn or improve your French in a Fun and relaxed atmosphere?Look no further !My name is Anissa and I'm a French... native and certified teacher.Focusing on each student's individual level, interests, and goals, my online classes are effective to achieve impressive learning results in a shorter period of time. The courses will be based on your personal needs and during the class you will receive direct explanations, correction and feedback in order to instantly improve your language skills.Whether you want to learn French for your own pleasure or preparing for an exam, an upcoming interview or a presentation at work, I will be happy to assist you in reaching your goals.My online classes are available at any time! Choose a subject from my curriculum or request your own topic, date, time and start master your French!I look forward to meeting you,Anissa, your French (and nice) teacher :)*Please note that I'm not offering a free trial anymore* Read more
German lessons and learning materials included
I teach: German, English, French
My name is Christina and I provide fun German and French language lesson for children and adult beginners or intermediate who want to... strengthen their language skills, improve the grammar knowledge, enrich the vocabulary and get into the German culture! I can teach in English or French!I had experince in teaching German, English and French to foreign people so I do have a lot of useful learning material I can provide you to make it easier! Read more
This teacher is one of our premium members. A premium teacher is very motivated to provide an excellent learning experience.