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French Definite Articles

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The French definite article corresponds to "the" in English. There are four forms of the French definite article:
  1. le   masculine singular
  2. la   feminine singular
  3. l'    m or f in front of a vowel or h muet
  4. les  m or f plural
Which definite article to use depends on three things: the noun's gender, number, and first letter:
  • If the noun is plural, use les
  • If it's a singular noun starting with a vowel or h muet, use l'
  • If it's singular and starts with a consonant or h aspiré, use le for a masculine noun and la for a feminine noun

Meaning and usage of the French definite article

The definite article indicates a specific noun.

   Je vais à la banque.
   I'm going to the bank.

   Voici le livre que j'ai lu.
   Here is the book I read.

The definite article is also used in French to indicate the general sense of a noun. This can be confusing, as definite articles are not used in this way in English.

   J'aime la glace.
   I like ice cream.

   C'est la vie !
   That's life!

More uses of the definite article


Definite article contractions

The definite article changes when preceded by the preposition à or de - the preposition and article contract into a single word: learn more


Introduction to French articles
French definite articles
French indefinite articles
French partitive articles
Choosing a French article
Quiz on French articles
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