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
German lessons and learning materials included
I teach: English, French, German
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.
Group lessons possible
Ready to take on the challenge to learn Bulgarian?
I teach: Bulgarian, English, French
Hello, My name is Zlatko. I believe that learning Bulgarian online with me gives you the best of both worlds: fast progress and enjoyment.Taking... on the challenge to learn a new language is impressive. The reasons might be different. Some people give it a go because they just like new things. Others need to learn a new language because they are moving to a country where the language is spoken. Remember that whatever your reason is, it is your motivation that is the key to successful learning. Who am I and why to pick me out: - online and face-to-face teaching experience: over 15 years helping hundreds of students achieve their language goals - flexibility: willing to tailor my techniques to both your interests and specific needs - patience and excellent listening skills - honesty and collaboration: let's build trust and consider our work as a partnership - native Bulgarian speaker with oustanding educational background - sence of humour In general, my teaching style includes, but is not limited to: - speaking practice through role-play activities - stotytelling and discussions - gap filling excercises - listening comprehension - vocabulary development - accent reduction How does that grab you? If interested, drop me a line and we will discuss your language goals and expectations. Hope to see you soon. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of every lesson: 1. Review what you covered in your previous lesson. 2. Focus on things you had difficulty with. I will definitely go over them. 3. It is always a great idea to take notes during your lessons. It helps you stay more focused on what you are learning. 4. Feel free to ask me if anything has come up since your last lesson that you want clarification on. Your questions do not have to be prior lesson related, maybe you are just curious about how to say something. 5. Be sure you have completed your homework assignments. If you were not able to complete them, make notes about what stumped you. Were the instructions not clear enough, was the vocabulary beyond your level of comprehension, were the grammar rules too overwhelming, was there too much homework for the time you had planned to spend on it, and so on. 6. Contact me prior to your next lesson if there are any issues or changes you would like to make me aware of so I can have a chance to make changes to your learning plan. Hope this helps. Read more
Group lessons possible
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
Group lessons possible